The United Nations Human Rights Council, or UNHRC, in a statement released Monday, announced the appointment of three experts to an international commission of inquiry that will investigate allegations of war crimes and violations of “international humanitarian and human rights laws” during the Israeli military’s assault on the Gaza Strip.
The council’s president, Baudelaire Ndong Ella, said that the commission will “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.”
William Schabas, a Canadian professor of international criminal law and human rights, will head the panel. Doudou Diene, a Senegalese U.N. human rights expert and Amal Alamuddin, a British-Lebanese human rights lawyer, were also named as members of the panel.
Alamuddin later declined to serve as a member of the commission, citing “existing commitments,” The Guardian reported Monday.
The international commission of inquiry, which was launched on July 23 after 29 countries voted in its favor, is slated to submit its report by March 2015.
Israel, responding to Monday’s announcement, reiterated its earlier stance and denounced the UNHRC panel as a “kangaroo court,” Al Jazeera reported.
“The report has already been written and the only question is who signs it,” an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post, adding that Israel would not cooperate with the investigation.
Hamas, on the other hand, said that the formation of the commission was an important step forward.
“Hamas welcomes the decision to form an investigation committee into the war crimes committed by the occupation against Gaza and it urges that it begin work as soon as possible." Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas spokesperson, told Al Jazeera.
The UNHRC announcement came on the second day of a 72-hour cease-fire between Hamas and Israel during which the two sides have resumed indirect talks in Cairo, mediated by Egypt.