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Middle East crisis

UN commission accuses Israel of obstructing 7 October probe

UN commission accuses Israel of obstructing 7 October probe
Placards of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas hang in destroyed house prior a press conference, as Families Of Be'eri Hostages visit Kibbutz Beeri near the border with Gaza on December 20, 2023 in Be'eri, Israel. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

GENEVA, April 16 (Reuters) - A U.N.-mandated commission of inquiry that probes violations of international human rights law on Tuesday accused Israel of obstructing its efforts to collect evidence from the victims of the attack by Hamas in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

“So far as the government of Israel is concerned, we have not only seen a lack of cooperation, but active obstruction of our efforts to receive evidence from Israeli witnesses and victims to the events that occurred in southern Israel,” said Chris Sidoti, one of three members of a commission of inquiry into abuses committed in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“We have contact with many, but we would like to have contact with more.”

Sidoti appealed to the government of Israel, as well as victims and witnesses of the attack, to aid the commission in conducting its probe.

In response to Sidoti’s comments, the Israeli diplomatic mission in Geneva said it had been carrying out its own investigation into the crimes, and that representatives of the United Nations and other institutions had been to Israel and met with survivors and victims.

Victims would “never get any justice or the dignified treatment they deserve from the Commission of Inquiry and its members”, it said, describing the commission as having “a track record of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements”.

Israel began its campaign against Hamas after the Palestinian militant group attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The U.N. commission of inquiry, set up in 2021 by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, is mandated to collect evidence and identify perpetrators of international crimes.

The evidence gathered by such U.N. bodies has formed the basis for war crimes prosecutions and the International Criminal Court.

Earlier this month, the Commission was mandated to probe two additional lines of inquiry: violent settlers and settler groups, and arms transfer to Israel. Those findings will be presented at the U.N. Human Rights Council in June next year.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber)

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