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Indian named on UN probe panel on Gaza

November 11, 2014 10:19 IST

An eminent Indian official has been named on a United Nations inquiry panel set up by the world body's chief Ban Ki-moon to probe the presence of arms in UN premises in the Gaza strip and the damage to its facilities during the conflict between Israel and Palestinian factions.

K C Reddy, a former UN security advisor for Syria, has been named to the internal and independent United Nations Headquarters Board of Inquiry that will be chaired by Patrick Cammaert of The Netherlands.

The formation of the inquiry board by the UN Secretary-General is aimed at reviewing "certain incidents that occurred in the Gaza Strip between July 8 and August 26," Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters here yesterday.

The board would include Maria Vicien-Milburn of Argentina, Lee O'Brien of the United States and Pierre Lemelin of Canada.

The board would review and investigate a number of specific incidents in which death or injuries occurred at and damage was done to United Nations premises.

The board would also review and investigate incidents in which weapons were found to be present on UN premises.

"The Secretary-General expects that the Board will enjoy the full cooperation of all parties concerned," Haq said.

During his visit last month to the war-ravaged enclave, Ban had called for a thorough investigation into incidents where UN facilities -- including schools run by the UN agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) -- sustained hits resulting in the deaths of numerous innocent civilians and UN staff members.

The fighting -- which raged from July 8 to August 26 -- saw entire neighbourhoods in the Gaza strip flattened, and almost one-third of the area's population uprooted.

The violence killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, and more than 70 Israelis while also damaging or destroying over 100,000 homes.

In Gaza last month, Ban voiced horror at the extent of the destruction, stating that "nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed."

In July, Ban had expressed outrage over rockets being found in a UN-administered school in Gaza and had called for a full review of the incident.

Rockets found in the UNRWA school subsequently went missing.

Ban had demanded that militants groups, who were responsible must stop such actions and should be held accountable for endangering the lives of civilians.

The UN Chief had said that by placing weapons in schools, "those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children, UN employees working in such facilities and anyone using the UN schools as shelter."

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