A U.N. inquiry accused Israel on Tuesday 5 May of gross negligence and recklessness in attacks on U.N. property in the Gaza strip during fighting between the Jewish state and Palestinian militants in January (see the article of Patrick Worsnip in Reuters).

An article of the Guardian by Ed Pilkington (New York) and Rory McCarthy in (Jerusalem) at Tuesday 5 May 2009 reports that: "The summary of the UN report, commissioned by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, censured the Israeli government for causing death, injuries and damage to UN property in seven incidents involving action by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).
It said: "The board concluded that IDF actions involved varying degrees of negligence or recklessness with regard to United Nations premises and to the safety of United Nations staff and other civilians within those premises, with consequent deaths, injuries, and extensive physical damage and loss of property."(....) The summary emphasised that UN premises are inviolable, and that inviolability cannot be set aside by the demands of military expediency.

The U.N. inquiry led by Briton Ian Martin, a former head of rights group Amnesty International who later joined the United Nations, investigated nine incidents of damage to U.N. property and faulted Israel in seven of them. It blamed Hamas in one case and could not establish responsibility in another.

Haaretz' correspondent Barak Ravid emphasises in his article that "The Foreign Ministry noted that immediately upon the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead, the codename for the operation, Israel carried out independent inquiries into the damage caused to the UN installations." He opens the article with "United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said a damning UN report on Israel's conduct in its recent offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip was not legally binding.(.....) Ban made the comments in a letter he agreed to attach to the report at the request of Foreign Ministry director-general Yossi Gal, who traveled to New York on Monday for meetings with Ban's aides on the matter. In the letter, the UN chief condemned Hamas cross-border rocket fire on Israeli civilians, attacks that sparked the conflict and, according to the Israeli paper, were ignored by the UN committee in its report.

At 5 May 2009 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent to the Security Council a summary of the report. Today Ban Ki-moon and Israeli President Shimon Peres discussed the report.

The article in the Guardian mentions also that "International human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Israel's military and Palestinian militant groups of serious violations of international law and possible war crimes during the conflict.
The UN board of inquiry report has limited scope: it is confined to investigating death or injuries or damage at UN buildings or during UN operations. The UN human rights council is also to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Gaza, but Israel has already suggested it will not co-operate, saying the council is biased."

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