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Israel's Investigations of Gaza Conflict Inadequate, Say UN Experts

A United Nations committee has accused Israel of failing to investigate abuses allegedly committed during its offensive in Gaza nearly two years ago, raising the prospect of International Criminal Court indictments.

by Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem

Both Israel and Hamas were instructed to conduct internal inquiries after the UN Human Rights Commission adopted a report by Richard Goldstone, a retired South African judge, accusing both of war crimes during the three-week conflict.

White phosphorus from an Israeli shell rains down over the Gaza Strip as seen from Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp on January 9, 2009. (Photo: AFP) More than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in the war after Israel launched a military operation in Gaza in what it said was an attempt to halt Hamas rocket fire on its towns near Gaza.

The UN investigation accused Israel of deliberately attacking civilians, firing white phospohrous shells and carring out torture during the offensive.

"The Israeli operations were carefully planned in all their phases as a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise the civilian population," the report found.

After the report was published, Israel refused to cooperate, although it carried out investigations into individual incidents.

As Israel is no longer a signatory of the statute creating the international criminal court, there is little chance of Israeli officials standing trial before it. The Jewish state has been vehemently critical of the Goldstone investigation.

Hamas was also accused of failing to mount a credible investigation of the allegations.

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