Israeli lawmaker asks to join Gaza war crimes probe

TEL-AVIV, Israel — A member of Israel’s Knesset (Parliament), Dr. Afo Agbaria, from the left-wing Hadash coalition, wrote to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today, asking that he be allowed to assist the UN investigation on war crimes during the Israeli military Operation 'Cast Lead' in the Gaza Strip this past winter. International prosecutor Richard Goldstone and his team of investigators arrived in Gaza via Egypt two days ago to begin the probe.

Dr. Agbaria, a surgeon and a leading member of the Communist Party of Israel, wrote to Ban that he had seen with his own eyes the results of the brutal, merciless Israeli military operation. 'As a member of the Knesset, and as someone who worked in medicine for more than 30 years in leading medical establishments in Israel, I request that you let me take an active part in the UN's investigative delegation,' he wrote. 'I want to contribute my experience and medical understanding to the committee,' he added.

The lawmaker said that during his visit to the Gaza Strip following the December-January military operation, he saw 'not just the destruction that the Israeli army left behind, but also wounded Palestinians in Gaza hospitals with extraordinary burns.' He said the burns constituted 'a clear indication of the fact that Israel used prohibited weapons, under both international humanitarian law and international criminal law.'

Agbaria implored the committee not to obscure 'the war crimes and the horrors that Israel carried out during the military attack on Gaza,' and said he hoped the 'final result' of the investigation would 'bring Israeli war crimes to trial.'

'I strongly condemn the Israeli government's decision not to cooperate with the UN delegation,' Agbaria wrote.