Ban sends report of UN probe into Gaza incidents to Security Council

UNRWA’s warehouses burning in Gaza

5 May 2009 – Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today sent to the Security Council a summary of the report by the United Nations Board of Inquiry into incidents affecting the world body’s personnel, premises and operations during the recent conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.

“My purpose in establishing this Board was to develop a clear record of the facts surrounding these serious incidents and their causes, and to determine where responsibility might lie, bearing in mind the complexities of the overall situation,” Mr. Ban told a news conference in New York today.

The four-member Board of Inquiry, led by Ian Martin of the United Kingdom, was tasked with reviewing and investigating several 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, UN premises.

Mr. Ban emphasized the independent nature of the Board and its work, adding that it is not a judicial body or court of law. “It does not make legal findings and does not consider questions of legal liability,” he noted.

“As to those matters that did not fall within the Board’s terms of reference, it is not my intention to establish any further inquiry,” the Secretary-General stated. “I intend to address any other incidents relating to UN personnel on a case by case basis, and through dialogue with the Government of Israel.”

He added that the Israeli Government has informed him that it has reservations and objections to elements of the summary – which he described as “a faithful and objective reflection” of the Board’s full report. “At the same time, I am pleased that the Israeli Government has agreed to meet United Nations officials to address some of the Board’s recommendations, in so far as it relates to Israel.”

He said the report reflects the ongoing plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, while pointing out that Israeli civilians in southern Israel continue to face indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups.

“In a larger sense, the report reminds us that there has still been no progress on the critical elements that would secure long-term peace for the people of the region,” said Mr. Ban. “We need a durable ceasefire, which includes an end to arms smuggling, the opening of the crossings, recovery and reconstruction in Gaza, and steps toward Palestinian reconciliation.

“More importantly, we need to give new momentum to the search for a resolution of the conflict in the Middle East. For this, direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must resume, and the international community must engage,” he added.


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