[JURIST] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] on Friday strongly criticized [AFP report] the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] investigation into possible war crimes that were committed during recent fighting in the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder]. In an interview with a reporter, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the probe is an attempt to demonize Israel and that it has no moral ground. Palmor also condemned the UNHRC as unreliable and having the worst history of all the organizations within the UN. The criticism came the same day that the UNHRC announced the appointment [press release; JURIST report] of South African judge Richard Goldstone to head the fact-finding mission. Israel has not said if it will cooperate with the probe, which was originally approved [AFP report] by the UNHCR in January.
The probe follows a previous report [text, PDF; JURIST report], authored by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk [appointment release], which criticized Israel for failing to take adequate precautions to distinguish between civilians and combatants in their offensives in the region. Both Israel and the US criticized the report, calling the rapporteur's views "anything but fair." An internal Israeli military investigation found earlier this week that war crimes had not been committed [JURIST report] in the offensive despite individual reports by Israeli soldiers. Israel has already disputed [JURIST report] a previous report to the UNHRC that accused it of human rights violations. In January, the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] said that it lacked standing [JURIST report] to investigate possible war crimes in Gaza.