UN: Former war crimes prosecutor to investigate Gaza protest killings

By Simon Albaugh- GENEVA/PNN/

The United Nations announced on Wednesday that David Crane, an American former prosecutor for war crimes in Sierra Leone, will hold an investigation on the killings by Israeli Forces of protestors in Gaza.

The announcement came after the United Nations voted on 18 Mar. to investigate what a majority of the body considered a “disproportionate response” to the protests at the Gaza-Israeli border.

American efforts in Israel and Palestine have been scrutinized by the international community for ignoring Israel’s documented human-rights abuses as well as revoking $300 million in aid to Palestinian relief efforts, effectively removing many functions necessary for people in the area.

According to meetings coverage for the United Nations, most efforts to hold Israel accountable have been decried as an “anti-Israel bias in the United Nations” by United States delegate Nikki Haley.

As a lawyer who formerly worked in United States Government positions, Crane may need to confront his potential for a career within the US government before proceeding with the investigation. Especially because he has held governmental positions in national security before moving to international criminal law.

However, this interest could be balanced by his record as a prosecutor against war crimes in West Africa.

Crane established himself as an important contributor to the international human rights law community when he became the first American to be chief prosecutor of an international war crimes tribunal.

His prosecutorial work from 2002 to 2005 focused on the indictment of war criminals in West Africa following the Sierra Leone Civil War in the 1990s. Crane’s investigation in the area also led to the indictment of Liberian President Charles Taylor in 2012 for crimes against humanity.

Crane has expressed an interest in diplomatic and political responses to atrocities, rather than legal means. In his speech on the 20th Century’s efforts to bring justice for victims of crimes against humanity, he talked about political measures being the most effective in ending tragedies.

This may affect the outcome since Israel’s major trading partner, the United States, has shown it may not entirely subscribe to decisions made by the United Nations against Israel’s human rights abuses.

By establishing a clear consensus on whether Israel holds responsibility for war crimes, the UN  may push the United States even further away from its mission for peace in the area.

Human rights expert Michael Lynk also expressed a need for diplomatic measures against Israel’s human rights abuses in a statement this week.

“To be effective,” Lynk said. “The international community must be prepared to hold Israeli decision-makers legally and diplomatically responsible.”

The decision to appoint David Crane seems to have the first goal of having an investigator who will equally represent both Israel’s denial of criminal acts as well as the Palestinian people’s need for justice.

Crane’s complex career makes the nonpartisan opinion especially clear, dissolving any predictions on whether a United Nations independent investigation will hold Israel accountable or not.

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