Israel bars U.N. investigators of Gaza operation


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel denied entry to members of a commission appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate possible war crimes committed during Israel’s Gaza operation this summer.

Israel on Wednesday did not permit the so-called Schabas Commission to enter Israel from Jordan, then announced it would not cooperate with the investigation.

In July, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the council for choosing to investigate Israel rather than nearby crisis zones such as Iraq or Syria, and implied he would not cooperate with U.N. investigators. The operation was ongoing at the time.

The Human Rights Council moved that month to establish a commission of inquiry “to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” while Operation Protective Edge was still going on.

The commission is named for William Schabas, a Canadian-born professor of international law at Middlesex University in London. Schabas said in an Aug. 12 interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that it would be “inappropriate” to assert that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Last year, Schabas said that Netanyahu would be his “favorite” leader to see tried by the International Criminal Court.

Following the end of the last Gaza conflict, in early 2009, Israel refused to cooperate with a U.N. investigation led by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone. The probe, dubbed the Goldstone Report, alleged that Israel had intentionally targeted civilians, though Goldstone later personally retracted the allegation. Israel rejected the original report as inaccurate and biased.

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