Former Pentagon Official to Head UN Gaza Violence Probe

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Paramedics carry away a Palestinian youth who was injurred during clashes near the border with Israel east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018
Paramedics carry away a Palestinian youth who was injurred during clashes near the border with Israel east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on July 20, 2018Credit: AFP

American jurist Prof. David Crane has been appointed to head a special commission established by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the violence on the Gaza Strip border in recent months.

The panel will also include attorneys Sara Hossein from Bangladesh and Betty Murungi from Kenya.

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Crane, an expert in international law and a past deputy inspector general at the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Intelligence Review. He is currently a professor of international law at Syracuse University. He was also a prosecutor in the international court in Sierra Leone.

Hossein worked with the United Nations investigating human rights in North Korea. Murungi was an adviser to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

According to a decision in May, the commission will investigate the status of human rights in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Twenty-nine members of the Human Rights Council voted for the decision, including Spain and Belgium. The United States and Australia voted against it, and Hungary, Britain, Germany Slovakia and Croatia abstained.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel rejected the vote by what he called an “automatic anti-Israel majority, whose results were known in advance.” According to Netanyahu, the decision proved that “there is nothing new under the sun. The organization that calls itself the Human Rights Council has once again proved that it is a hypocritical and biased body whose goal is to harm Israel and to back terrorism, but it has mostly proved to be irrelevant.”

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Netanyahu said Israel would “continue to protect its citizens and soldiers as its right to self-defense grants it.”

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said: “In complete opposition to the claims of the council, most of those killed on the Palestinian side were Hamas activists, as the leaders of the terror organization said themselves.” The statement went on to say that the justice system in Israel “has begun examining events in Gaza, as is customary, and it rejects any attempt to impose an outside mechanism created out of improper political motives.

After the 2014 Gaza war the Human Rights Council voted to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate claims of war crimes supposedly committed by Israel during the fighting in Gaza.

Following Operation Cast Lead in 2009, a commission of inquiry established by the council and headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone accused Israel of committing war crimes and made its recommendations to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

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