UN demands Israel compensation for Gaza strikes

Ban Ki Moon Gaza

The UN chief on Tuesday accused Israel of lying about attacks on United Nations schools and other facilities during the Gaza military campaign, including one reported to have killed more than 40 people, and formally demanded compensation.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a UN investigation found conclusively that Israeli weaponry, some containing white phosphorus, was "the indisputed cause" of attacks on several schools, a health clinic and the world body's Gaza headquarters.

Israel denies that it intentionally struck the compounds, and says it was forced to act against militants using the buildings and other civilian areas for cover. Israel said the material its government presented to the UN was largely ignored in the final report.

Ban said he commissioned the investigation to look at "the nine most serious incidents" and appointed five board members in February, soon after the fighting ended.

The first of 11 recommendations calls for the UN to seek "formal acknowledgment by the government of Israel that its public statements alleging that Palestinians fired" from within the UN's school in Jabalia on January six and within the UN's field office compound on January 15 "were untrue and are regretted."

Another says the UN should "take appropriate action to seek accountability and pursue claims to secure reparation or reimbursement for all expenses incurred and payment made by the United Nations' because of deaths and injuries involving UN personnel and property.

In his presentation on Tuesday, Ban took pains to point out, however, that Israeli citizens in southern Israel "faced and continue to face indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups."

But Israel's deputy UN ambassador Daniel Carmon called the report "biased" and "one-sided".

Further, he said the commission was "betraying" Israel's confidence by going beyond the scope of what it was supposed to investigate.

"For us it was quite a shock to see the report. Not because we were surprised there was criticism – I mean, we were ready to receive criticism – but the scope and especially the issues that are tackled in this report," Carmon said.

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