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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

UN war crimes investigators to visit Occupied Palestine, Gaza

A team of U.N. war crimes investigators is preparing to visit conflict zones in Israel and Gaza, officials said Friday.

No dates for the trip have been announced, and Israel already has expressed reservations about the investigation ordered by the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council, which has a record of singling out the Jewish state for criticism.

The Israeli diplomatic mission in Geneva declined to say if Israel would allow the U.N. investigators into the country.

"All I can tell you is that the Human Rights Council is biased against Israel and that the legal basis of the mission is a one-sided resolution," said Karen Smadja, an official with the Israeli mission.

Justice Richard Goldstone said he was heading a team of investigators that would focus on whether international humanitarian law was upheld during the Israel-Hamas conflict in January, and whether the two sides complied with their responsibility to ensure the protection of civilians and noncombattants.

Goldstone _ a former member of the South African Constitutional Court who has close links to Israel and has been a chief prosecutors for war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda _ said the investigators would avoid "political considerations," according to a U.N. statement.