07:20 - Source: CNN
Head of U.N. inquiry on Gaza explains resignation

Story highlights

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says William Schabas "was biased against Israel"

Schabas was the head of a U.N. inquiry into alleged rights violations in Gaza last summer

Jerusalem CNN  — 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the resignation Tuesday of the head of a U.N. inquiry into alleged war crimes during last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.

Netanyahu said that Prof. William Schabas “was biased against Israel” and that the commission of inquiry’s as yet unpublished report was written at the behest of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the Prime Minister described as “an anti-Israel body.”

He said the report, due to be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March, should be shelved. “This is the same council that in 2014 made more decisions against Israel than against Iran, Syria and North Korea combined,” he added.

Netanyahu said that Israel acted in accordance with international law during Operation Protective Edge and that it was “Hamas, the other terrorist organizations and the terrorist regimes around us that need to be investigated, not Israel.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also accused Schabas of bias – saying his nomination was “like appointing Cain to investigate who murdered Abel” – and welcomed his resignation, describing it as “another achievement of Israeli diplomacy.”

Schabas, a Canadian-born professor of international law based in London, was appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council to head the three-person commission of inquiry in August.

The council said its task was “to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014.”

This includes looking at the activities of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including attacks on Israel, as well as the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the West Bank, it said.

The United Nations has said more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the conflict in Gaza. According to U.N. estimates, at least 70% of the Palestinians killed were civilians, but Israel reports a higher number of militants among the dead.

On the Israeli side, there were 68 casualties, 65 of them soldiers and three civilians.