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U.N. names panel to investigate alleged war crimes in Gaza

Reuters

The United Nations on Monday named three experts to an international commission of inquiry into possible human rights violations and war crimes committed by both sides during Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

William Schabas, a Canadian professor of international law, will head the panel whose other members are Doudou Diene, a veteran U.N. human rights expert from Senegal, and Amal Alamuddin, a British-Lebanese lawyer engaged to be married to Hollywood actor George Clooney.

The independent team will investigate “all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law … in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014,” the U.N. statement said.

A month of war, marked by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and rockets fired by Hamas militants into Israel, has killed 1,938 Palestinians and 67 Israelis while devastating wide tracts of densely populated Gaza.

The panel is due to report by March 2015 to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Israel has long accused the 47-member state forum of bias against it.

Navi Pillay, the top U.N. human rights official, said on July 31 she believed Israel was deliberately defying international law in its military offensive in Gaza and that world powers should hold it accountable for possible war crimes.

Israel has attacked homes, schools, hospitals, Gaza’s only power plant and U.N. premises in apparent violation of the Geneva Conventions, said Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge.

Hamas militants in Gaza have violated international humanitarian law by firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, Pillay said.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed indirect talks mediated by Egypt on Monday on ending the war, Egypt’s state news agency said, after a new 72-hour truce appeared to be holding.