The U.N. Relief and Works Agency says a process of accountability must take place to achieve justice for all the death and destruction that occurred as a consequence of the Israeli military incursion into Gaza.  UNRWA says the process must be credible and must address the legitimate allegations of both the Israelis and Palestinians. 

UNRWA director of operations in Gaza, John Ging, says the devastation inflicted upon the Gaza Strip and the hardship endured by the population after 18 months of blockade is overwhelming.

In a briefing to journalists in Geneva from Gaza, Ging says the United Nations is focused on helping the people cope with their grief and their loss.

"They are still quite shell-shocked, but there is more and more anger growing.  That is why we have been, all of us on the international side, been urgently focusing attention on the necessity for accountability, an incredible mechanism for accountability because we need to channel this emotion to confidence in the rule of law," Ging said.

Ging says there are more extremists now, at the end of the conflict, than there were at the start.  He says the Palestinians do not believe they will get justice, they do not believe the rule of law applies to them.  He says the international community must prove them wrong.

He says the United Nations wants justice for the Palestinians and justice for the Israelis, who also have suffered.  That, he says, is why it is important to have an independent, objective, and credible investigation.

Ging says the ordinary people of Gaza are paying the price of the 18-month siege.  He says there is no prospect of recovery unless all crossing points from Israel are opened.

"The ordinary people here in Gaza need to be restored to a dignified existence and that cannot occur unless the crossing points are open, every single one of them for the free movement of goods.  Not just a trickle of food and medicine and so-called humanitarian assistance, but a full restoration to a normal life here in terms of commercial trade and all the supplies that are needed for one-and-one half million people.  And, also to restore the freedom of movement, so that they can come and go from the Gaza Strip as they need to do,"  he said.

On a related issue, Ging says as an Irishman, he is delighted at the appointment by the Obama administration of former senator George Mitchell as Middle East envoy.  He says Mitchell contributed a lot to bringing peace to his country.

And, this, he says, not only gives him hope, but also a cause for optimism that real progress will be made toward peace.