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February 3, 2015 2:52 pm

Former NY Judge Replaces William Schabas as UN Gaza Inquiry Head

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Mary McGowan Davis will lead a UN inquiry in alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the summer 2014 war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Photo: UN Watch.

US Judge Mary McGowan Davis replaced William Schabas as head of a United Nations inquiry in the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, a UN source told FRANCE 24 on Tuesday.

McGowan Davis spent a 24-year career in the New York City criminal justice system as state Supreme Court judge and federal prosecutor.  The head of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed her last year to join Schabas, and former UN racism investigator Doudou Diene, on a panel set up to look into alleged war crimes during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

McGowan Davis served as a consultant to the international tribunal on Rwanda and to the International Criminal Court, The New York Times reported. The UN Gaza probe is not her first time investigating Israeli conduct. In 2010 and 2011 she led a committee formed to follow up on the Goldstone report on the 2008-2009 Israeli military invasion of Gaza. The report found evidence of potential war crimes by Israel and Hamas, including evidence that Israeli troops deliberately targeted civilians.

Schabas resigned as head of the UN investigation on Tuesday because of a conflict of interest involving consultancy work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). His decision to step down sparked immediate calls from the Israeli government and pro-Israel groups for the commission to be investigated for bias.

Schabas was appointed last August by the head of the UNHRC to lead a three-member group investigating alleged war crimes during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. In a letter to the commission announcing his resignation, a copy of which was seen by the Reuters news agency on Monday, Schabas said he would step down to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.

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