- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday he would seek reparations from Israel for its bombardment of U.N. facilities during its January incursion into Gaza.

An independent panel, appointed by Mr. Ban, assessed damages to nine clinics, schools and offices at about $10.4 million.

“I intend to seek reparation or reimbursement of loss and damage incurred by the United Nations,” Mr. Ban told reporters.

The panel’s full report has not been circulated out of fears for the safety of people who cooperated, including U.N. staff.

However, Security Council members received a 27-page summary of key findings.

The report blames Israeli Defense Forces for “not implementing sufficient efforts and precautions to fulfill its responsibilities to protect United Nations personnel and civilians sheltering within United Nations premises and to protect United Nations premises and property.”

The authors also refute many of the Israeli government’s claims that it was returning fire from Hamas soldiers who were in or near U.N. facilities.

An official at the Israeli mission to the United Nations said the panel had rejected any input from Israel.

“We were shocked when we saw a report that doesn’t reflect anything we shared during the inquiry,” said the official, who asked for anonymity so he could speak freely. “Even if Israel had not cooperated at all, it would have been the same report.”

The official did not rule out reimbursing the United Nations for damages. “This is something that still needs to be addressed between us and the United Nations,” he said.

The U.N.-appointed team was led by veteran diplomat Ian Martin. The report has no legal weight, and its recommendations are not binding.

“The board recommended that the United Nations should take appropriate action to seek accountability and pursue claims to secure reparations or reimbursement for all expenses incurred,” said the redacted version.

The claims should include death or injury of U.N. staff as well as damaged buildings.

As many as 1,400 Gazans were killed during the invasion, including civilians and militants. Israel says the toll was much lower and that most of those killed were militants.

Thirteen Israelis also died: some soldiers, others the result of Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

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