Head of UN inquiry investigating Gaza conflict resigns

Head of UN inquiry investigating Gaza conflict resigns

[JURIST] William Schabas [academic profile], leader of a three-member UN committee investigating possible war crimes committed in Gaza last summer, resigned Monday after Israelis accused him of bias due to his previous work as a consultant for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) [UN backgrounder]. Schabas claimed that the opinion he wrote for the PLO was no different than any legal advice he gave to other governments and organizations. Regardless, he chose to step down immediately after the UN Human Rights Council [official website] requested the UN headquarter’s legal opinion, so as to not overshadow the committee’s findings and report. On Tuesday Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu [BBC profiler], called for the investigation to end [Guardian report], referring to it as an “anti-Israeli body” that has nothing to do with human rights. The UN commission is due to issue its report next month.

2014 proved to be one of the most intense periods of violence for the Israel-Palestine conflict [HRW backgrounder]. In November the Human Rights Committee urged Israel to investigate [JURIST report] alleged violations committed by its forces during the recent conflict in Gaza. The 2014 conflict lasted from July 8 to August 26, resulting in more than 100,000 buildings damaged and nearly 2,200 deaths, with a high quantity of civilian casualties. In September Human Rights Watch accused the Israeli military of committing war crimes [JURIST report] by attacking schools where hundreds of displaced Palestinians sought shelter. Also in September the Shurat HaDin of the Israel Law Center asked the International Criminal Court to open an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged war crimes committed by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.