Middle East

Gaza conflict: UN appoints new inquiry chair

Israeli tank near Sderot at the start of the offensive on Gaza, 18 July 2014
Image caption An Israeli tank on the border to Gaza at the start of the war in July 2014

The UN has appointed Mary McGowan Davis as the new chair of the commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict.

Ms McGowan Davis, an American who is already a member of the commission, will replace William Schabas.

The Canadian had resigned on Tuesday amid accusations of anti-Israel bias.

The commission, which is looking into possible human rights violations in the conflict, is due to present its findings on 23 March.

The president of the UN Human Rights Council, Ambassador Joachim Ruecker, announced the appointment just one day after Mr Schabas had acknowledged he had previously done work for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Israel had accused Mr Schabas of "clear and documented" bias and, when he resigned, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the whole investigation should be scrapped.

He described the Human Rights Council as "an anti-Israel body" which in 2014 had made "more decisions against Israel than against Iran, Syria and North Korea combined".

Israel refuses to co-operate with the inquiry which will now continue its work under Ms McGowan Davis with Senegalese investigator Doudou Diene as its only other member.

Palestinians and Israelis accuse each other of committing war crimes during the 2014 conflict.

The war left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, the majority civilians, according to the UN. Tens of thousands of homes in Gaza were also destroyed or badly damaged.

On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed by militant attacks, which also caused damage to homes and other buildings.

The 50-day war began in July and ended with a ceasefire in August.