Ban Ki-moon appoints board to probe Gaza war

The five-member independent board will be chaired by Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch major general

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U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday appointed a five-member panel to investigate Israeli attacks on U.N. shelters during the Gaza war and the discovery of Hamas weapons at U.N. sites, Agence France-Presse reported.

The five-member independent board will be chaired by Patrick Cammaert, a retired Dutch major general who previously served as Ban’s military advisor, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

“The secretary-general expects that the board will enjoy the full cooperation of all parties concerned,” Haq said.

The other members of the board are Maria Vicien-Milburn, general counsel of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; Lee O’Brien, a former Mideast expert in the U.N. Department of Political Affairs; Pierre Lemelin of Canada and K.C. Reddy of India.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, mainly civilians, in the 50 days of fighting that began July 8, according to U.N. and Palestinian estimates.

Seventy-two people were killed on the Israeli side.

Thousands of buildings were destroyed and at least 223 Gaza schools, either run by the U.N. refugee agency or the Hamas government, were hit in the fighting.

Weapons caches were found in several U.N. schools that weren’t being used at the time.

Meanwhile, Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor told reporters “we are now assessing” the announcement.

The Palestinian U.N. Mission said it will comment on Tuesday.

Ban announced plans to set up a probe during his visit to Gaza last month after describing Israeli shelling of U.N.-run schools as a “moral outrage”.

He said the destruction was “beyond description” and “much more serious” than what he witnessed in the Palestinian territory in 2009 in the aftermath of a previous Israel-Hamas war.

Ban said nothing more powerfully symbolized the “summer of suffering” than the Jabalia school where thousands of families had sought shelter from the fighting “under the U.N. flag.”

[With AP and AFP]