UN Should Do More for Gaza

February 16, 2009

On February 12, 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced that a UN Board of Inquiry had begun its work “to review and investigate a number of specific incidents that occurred in the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 19 January 2009 and in which death or injuries occurred at, and/or damage was done to, United Nations premises or in the course of United Nations operations.”

While the UN has legitimate reason to be concerned about attacks on UN sites–including the Israeli attack on a UN school, the UN should expand its investigation to examine a broader range of possible war crimes, not just those directed at UN facilities or staff.

In other news, the fighting eslcalated again, with fresh Israel attacks on tunnels in Gaza that Israel says Palestinians use to smuggle weapons. Palestinians insist that the tunnels are the only way to permit food and supplies to enter, given the harsh blockades by Israel even on humanitarian assistance into Gaza. The BBC also reports that Israel “claimed” 425 acres of West Bank land, a possible indication of pro-settler policies by the new Israeli government.

The BBC reports:

…a leading Israeli newspaper says the Israeli civil administration in the West Bank has designated an area of 172 hectares (425 acres) as state land.

Haaretz says the decision could pave the way for some 2,500 new settlement homes to be built.

However, several steps of government approval are required for building work to begin, which the newspaper says means construction is still a long way off.

Israeli has pledged to freeze settlement activity on occupied land, but it has continued to expand existing settlements, built in defiance of international law since 1967.

Right-wing parties which fared well in Israeli elections on 10 February are strong supporters of the settlement movement, which is seen as a major obstacle to the two-state solution supported by the US.