Israel Agrees to Work With Gaza Probe Into Attacks on UN Facilities

After refusing to cooperate with a different UN committee, Jerusalem agrees to participate in another as long as a number of its conditions are met.

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A damaged classroom at a UN school in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014.
A damaged classroom at a UN school in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014.Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel has agreed to cooperate with the UN Headquarters Board of Inquiry established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to investigate the damage to UNRWA facilities during the Gaza war this summer.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, had submitted a letter on the issue to Ban on Tuesday. The official added that Israel had set conditions for its cooperation, but he declined to elaborate.

Last week Ban announced the formation of an “internal and independent” board that would probe the damage to UN installations. He said the board would also investigate cases in which weapons were found at UN facilities.

The board “will review and investigate a number of specific incidents in which death or injuries occurred at, and/or damage was done to United Nations premises,” the United Nations said. “The Board will also review and investigate incidents in which weapons were found to be present on United Nations premises. The Secretary-General expects that the Board will enjoy the full cooperation of all parties concerned.”

A similar UN headquarters board of inquiry investigated the Gaza war of the winter of 2008-09. In that case Israel cooperated with the investigation, and the board harshly criticized Israel for certain actions during the war. Israel’s disappointment with the results of that inquiry is presumably the reason it has set conditions this time around.

An investigative board established by the UN secretary-general is viewed as much more reliable and serious than investigative committees established by bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council, which has also set up a committee to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes during Operation Protective Edge.

Last week Israel announced that it would not cooperate with the UNHCR investigation headed by Canadian jurist William Schabas because it was “tendentious and one-sided.”

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