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UN chief urges Israel to cooperate with Gaza human rights probe
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10:16, June 03, 2009

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UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has renewed his call for Israel's cooperation with the team mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council to probe alleged rights abuses and violations of international law during the conflict in Gaza ended on Jan. 18, his spokesperson said here on Tuesday.

Ban discussed the issue of UN Gaza human rights probe with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a meeting on Monday in New York, Michele Montas told reporters. "The Secretary-general renewed his call for cooperation from Israel," she said.

The 15-member team, led by South African Justice Richard Goldstone, is currently on a week-long trip to the area, the first of its planned field visits. The team arrived in Gaza on Monday.

Montas said Ban and Barak discussed access and movement issues relating to Gaza, the importance of the peace process, Lebanon, and the upcoming report on Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hizbollah.

The two also exchanged views about the four-member UN Board of Inquiry, led by Ian Martin from Britain, which examined incidents involving death and damage at the world body's premises in Gaza during Israel's military operation.

Montas said Ban is following up on cases covered by the Board's report, a summary of which he forwarded to the Security Council in early May.

In response to the compensation that the UN has asked from Israel, Montas said that none of the 11 million U.S. dollars in assessed damages to the UN's Gaza facilities had been received yet.

On Monday, Barak told reporters after his meeting with Ban that his country will not cooperate with the UN inquiry panel, adding the panel will not be able to ensure an "unbiased conclusion."

According to deposed Hamas' ministry of health, more than 1,450Palestinians were killed during the three-week military offensive, most of them women and children, and less than one third of those killed were militants.


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