Ex-New York Judge Named to UN Panel Assessing War Crimes in Gaza

Mary McGowan Davis is third member of panel formed out of Palestinian resolution. She replaces attorney Amal Alamuddin.

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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (on screen) addresses the Security Council about the situation in Gaza on a video link from Ramallah, West Bank, July 22, 2014.Credit: AFP

A former New York judge has been appointed the third member of a United Nations panel looking into whether Israel has committed war crimes in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Mary McGowan Davis was named to the panel by the head of the UN Human Rights Council, Gabon Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella, the Associated Press reported.

The council launched the commission of inquiry on July 23 accepting a Palestinian-drafted resolution.

McGowan joins William Schabas and Doudou Diène on the committee, which is expected to deliver a report next March.

The Israeli government has condemned the UN council's decision to form the panel, saying that Hamas should be the subject of the inquiry. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement at the time that Hamas was "committing a double war crime by firing rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. "

Schabas, who chairs the panel, is a professor of international criminal law and human rights, the UN council said in an August 11 statement announcing the members.

Diène from 2002 to 2008 was the UN's "Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance," the statement said.

On the panel, McGowan replaces Amal Alamuddin, a U.K. attorney and the fiancé of the actor George Clooney. Alamuddin, who the UN said is a specialist in international law and human rights, decided not to serve on the panel, citing her current commitments.

Israel in 2009 faced a similar investigation from the Goldstone Committee, led by the South African judge Richard Goldstone. That panel's report, released in September 2009, harshly criticized Israel's conduct during its 2008 conflict with Hamas in Gaza.