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Monday, March 16, 2009

Justice experts urge prompt Gaza War probe

Mon, 16 Mar 2009 02:55:11 GMT | PressTV

The world's leading judges and justice experts have sent a letter to the UN chief, urging a prompt and impartial probe into the Gaza war.

In an open letter supported by Amnesty International, the 16 signatories stressed the need for an investigation into 'all serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties of the conflict'.

The letter argues that the UN investigation 'should not be limited only to attacks on UN facilities'.

The distinguished signatories -- who have led investigations of crimes committed in former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Darfur, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, East Timor, Lebanon and Peru -- say they were 'shocked to the core' by the events in Gaza.

"Allegations of serious violations of the laws of war have emerged throughout the latest Gaza conflict, relating to conduct and actions by both the Israeli military and by the Palestinian armed groups," said the letter distributed by Amnesty International.

"A prompt, independent and impartial investigation would provide a public record of gross violations of international humanitarian law committed and provide recommendations on how those responsible for crimes should be held to account."

They also reached out for world leaders, calling for 'an unfaltering signal that the targeting of civilians during conflict is unacceptable by any party on any count'.

The signatories include Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and Antonio Cassese, the first president of the International Criminal Tribunal and head of the UN Inquiry on Darfur.

On December 27, Israel launched a full-scale 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, in a bid to oust its archenemy, the Islamic Hamas movement, which controls the coastal sliver. The onslaught left more than 1,340 Palestinians killed and some 5,450 others wounded, devastating hundreds of homes and buildings.

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