by Henry Hullah
The war between Israel and Hamas has left both sides accused of committing war crimes as Gaza lies shattered.
In less than two months a reported 17,000 homes were destroyed while tens of thousands have been left destitute and without a place to live.
On top of this, Israel is confiscating around 1,000 acres of Palestinian land near Bethlehem. Human rights expert Professor William Schabas is chairman of a U.N. inquiry in to the conflict.
He's received criticism in this role and the Commission of the Inquiry he is leading has been labelled a 'Kangaroo court' by the spokesperson for the Israeli foreign minister. Schabas seemed optimistic about the prospect of speaking with unenthusiastic officials.
"They can't prevent us doing an inquiry by refusing to give us access."
"I'm hopeful that we're going to convince Israel to cooperate with the inquiry. You know, five or six years ago, there was a controversial inquiry that was presided over by Richard Goldstone."
"He later said that if he had known things when the report was being prepared that he later learned, the report would have been different. I think that's a powerful lesson for Israel about the interest it has in actually coming forward and cooperating with the inquiry."
'There already has been some unpleasantness'
Previously, in the context of an attack on the Goldstone inquiry, Schabas didn't shy away from attacking the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that "If I had to choose an individual who would be the greatest threat to the survival of Israel, I'd probably choose Netanyahu."
But he told the program that this inquiry differs greatly to the one five years ago:
"The big difference this time, compared to what the inquiry that was done five years ago about Operation Cast Lead, is that the International Criminal Court is sitting in the wings. Palestine has not yet accepted the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. But it seems it's making signals to indicate that that's very likely."
"And so the report that this commission will carry out may, depending on its conclusions, provide material that would then go to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court."
"That's a pretty big stick if we come to the conclusion that there were war crimes that may have been committed."
A renowned expert in international human rights law, Professor Schabas has been at the forefront of human rights issues around the world for years.
Many admire his work but, just as the U.N.'s Former Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay told the program recently, this role comes with a price.
"There may be some backlash; there already has been some unpleasantness. I'm prepared for it."
"It goes with the territory of being a human rights investigator that you're going to get people angry at you. And I'll have to live with that."