Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Israel rejects UN report approval

Richard Goldstone (c)
Mr Goldstone called on both sides to carry out investigations

Israel has rejected a UN resolution calling on it to independently investigate suspected war crimes during its military offensive in Gaza.

An Israeli foreign ministry statement called the UN endorsement "completely detached from realities on the ground".

It also said the 18 votes against the resolution, including the US, and the 44 abstentions, including many European countries, were the "moral majority".

The resolution passed on Thursday with 60% of the assembly voting in favour.

Human shields

The resolution's wording asks Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to report on its implementation to the General Assembly within three months, "with a view to considering further action, if necessary, by the relevant United Nations organs and bodies", and to send the report to the Security Council.

The endorsement came after a two-day debate on a report by former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, which condemned the conduct of both sides during the war in Gaza last December and January.

Children in Gaza Strip
The Goldstone report accuses Israel of deliberately targeting civilians

The Goldstone report concluded that Israel had "committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity" by using disproportionate force, deliberately targeting civilians, using Palestinians as human shields and destroying civilian infrastructure during its Gaza offensive.

It also found there was evidence that Palestinian militant groups - including Hamas, which controls Gaza - had committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, in their repeated rocket and mortars attacks on southern Israel.

The Palestinians backed the report but Israel rejected it from the outset, claiming it was biased and did not promote peace.

Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding and correspondents say the Security Council would be unlikely to take any action if the case were ever referred to it.

Palestinians and rights groups say more than 1,400 Gazans died in the 22-day conflict, but Israel puts the figure at 1,166. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were killed.

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