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Israel and Hamas urged to co-operate with UN committee on Gaza conflict

Amnesty International on Friday called on the Israeli government and Hamas to co-operate fully with the committee of independent experts which the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish on 25 March.The committee's task will involve monitoring domestic investigations into war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law alleged to have occurred during the 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009. "The committee's assessment of the Israeli and Palestinian investigations should be made available to the UN Human Rights Council, General Assembly and Security Council in the coming months," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "A comprehensive assessment of the domestic investigations could provide a solid basis for decisions on further action necessary to secure accountability for both sides, including an eventual referral of the situation in Gaza by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court."A report on the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released on 17 March concluded that impunity for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law remains widespread.  The report found that investigations launched by the Israeli government into alleged violations related to its military operations in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 remain "inadequate" while there is "no indication of credible investigations having taken place with regard to allegations of violations by Palestinian armed groups". The Human Rights Council also asked the High Commissioner on Thursday to look into establishing a fund to provide reparations to Palestinians who suffered loss and damage due to violations attributable to Israel during the conflict."The Israeli government has an obligation to ensure Palestinian victims have immediate access to an effective remedy for violations by Israeli forces, including full and effective reparations," said Philip Luther. "Hamas must likewise provide reparations to victims of violations committed by their forces or other Palestinian armed groups during the conflict."