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"Crimes committed on both sides" in Gaza conflict

The United Nations Human Rights Council has backed a report on the Gaza Strip, accusing both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas of committing war crimes.

In a special session in Geneva, 25 members voted in favour of the resolution that criticised Israel for failing to cooperate with the UN mission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

Another six voted against. Eleven abstained.

Both Israel and Hamas have rejected the charges in the 575-page Goldstone report, which is critical of Israel's actions in the December-January war.

The report calls for the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court if the Israelis and Palestinians fail to investigate the alleged abuses themselves.

Swiss ambassador Jürg Lauber asked the Council to request both Israel and Hamas "take the necessary measures, in a specified time frame, to begin independent inquiries that conform to international standards on serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights".

He added that the humanitarian situation and reconstruction had made no progress in Gaza.

Ambassador Lauber said that Israel was not sticking to international law on the occupied West Bank, and was continuing its settlements policy and destroying Palestinian homes.

He described the situation as "unstable and particularly explosive". and agencies


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