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South African judge to head U.N. inquiry

April 04, 2009|Times Wire Reports

The United Nations appointed a widely respected South African judge who is a trustee of Hebrew University to lead a high-level mission to investigate allegations of war crimes by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

Israel did not say whether it would cooperate.

Richard Goldstone, the former U.N. chief prosecutor for war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, was named to head the investigation, ordered by the Human Rights Council in January. According to the mandate, the investigation should focus on Palestinian casualties in the three-week assault Israel launched against Hamas late last year.

Goldstone, a Jewish former judge of the South African constitutional court, said his team would investigate "all violations of international humanitarian law" before, during and after the conflict that ended Jan. 18.

Martin Uhomoibhi, the council president, explained the apparent contradiction by saying that the mission was always intended to evaluate the proportionality of Israel's response, which requires that acts of both warring parties be examined.

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