WASHINGTON - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday made an effort to soften the anti-Israel tone of the report issued by the organization's board of inquiry on its findings regarding the IDF's recent offensive in Gaza.
In his statement to the Security Council Ban said that while "the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza is reflected in the report", the council "should keep in mind that Israeli civilians in southern Israel faced and continue to face indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups".
The board presented its findings in a 184 page report, which was summarized in 27 pages. According to the findings, nine UN structures were hit by IDF fire and in seven of these cases Israel was to blame.
The board also reported that both Israel and Hamas were guilty or "war crimes", and called for an international and independent investigation against both sides.
It also announced that any harm done to UN facilities, whether justified or not, is illegal. This announcement has not been approved by UN legal sources.
The report also recommends Israel be forced to retract statements saying the Palestinians had fired from within UN facilities and pay damages to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for the harm it had done to their facilities.
Also, the State should announce ahead of time any military activity taking place near a UN structure, and if Israel finds Hamas is using the UN structures for military purposes it must notify the UN and leave the case in their charge, the report demands.
Ban's response diplomatically denounces each of the board's recommendations. He also rejected the demand for further inquiry in the matter of the UN facilities harmed during the offensive.
As to those matters that did not fall within the Board’s terms of reference, it is not my intention to establish any further Inquiry. I intend to address any other incidents relating to UN personnel on a case by case basis, and through dialogue with the Government of Israel.
Israeli officials expressed satisfaction with Ban's objectivity, but the fear exists that other UN officials will attempt to take advantage of the report to conduct a smear campaign against Israel in the future.
Israel's great disappointment with the report was largely due to its sincere cooperation with the board of inquiry. "When we saw the summary of the report we were appalled," one official told Ynet. "It was written as if they didn't listen, didn't understand, maybe didn't want to understand."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to the report by stating, "We have the most moral army in the world. Responsibility lies solely with Hamas. Over the last eight years Hamas has fired 4,000 rockets and mortar shells towards southern Israel. After eight years, we said enough. We are a peace-seeking people, but we must do what we must to restore calm to the lives of Israeli citizens."