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UN Report Finds Israel Responsible for Deaths and Damage to UN Gaza Facilities


A report from a U.N. board of inquiry has found Israel responsible for six serious attacks that caused deaths, injuries and damage to U.N. property during its three-week long incursion against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip that began in late December. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that he would seek compensation from Israel.

In a summary released Tuesday of its 184-page report, the independent board of inquiry found that in six of the nine incidents investigated, Israeli military actions, munitions or soldiers were responsible for deaths, injuries and damage that occurred on U.N. property.

Those incidents included attacks on three U.N.-run schools that were sheltering Palestinians fleeing the conflict, as well as a U.N. health center and office.

In a seventh, less serious incident, the board concluded that damage to a U.N. vehicle was caused by gunfire from Israeli troops. No one was injured in that episode.

During a news conference Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did not criticize Israel over the board's findings, saying only that he would seek compensation.

"I intend to seek reparation or reimbursement of loss and damage incurred by the United Nations," said Ban Ki-moon.

Mr. Ban did not comment on the substance of the board's findings or recommendations, saying only that he did not consider it necessary to initiate any further formal inquiry. He said he would address any other incidents relating to U.N. personnel on a case-by-case basis and through talks with the Israeli government.

"The government of Israel has informed me that it has reservations and objections to elements of the [report's] summary," he said. "At the same time, I am pleased that the Israeli government has agreed to meet U.N. officials to address some of the board's recommendations, in so far as it relates to
Israel."

In a statement, Israel's foreign ministry said it rejects the criticism in the summary of the board's report, and determines that it is patently biased, and ignores the facts presented to the committee. It also accuses the panel of misleading the world by believing claims from Hamas.

But the board of inquiry did find in one instance that Palestinian militants, most likely associated with Hamas, were responsible for damage to a U.N. warehouse that sustained rocket fire.

While in another incident, the panel was unable to reach any conclusion as to the source of fire which killed one U.N. employee and injured another at the U.N. school in Khan Younis.

The secretary-general rejected media reports that he had downplayed details of the board of inquiry's findings, saying it is an independent panel and he has no authority to alter or change any of their recommendations or conclusions.

The 5-member board was appointed by the secretary-general, but worked independently. It is not a judicial body and cannot make legal findings or consider questions of legal liability.

More than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died during the three-week long offensive in the Gaza Strip.


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