U.N. rights chief urges Israel works with Gaza probe
GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Israel Monday to cooperate with a U.N. team looking into whether war crimes were committed during its assault on Gaza at the turn of the year.
Pillay was speaking to the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council, which in March decided to send a fact-finding mission under South African jurist Richard Goldstone to investigate what happened in the Hamas-ruled territory during the fighting.
"All parties concerned, as well as states and the international community as a whole, should extend (to the mission) full support and cooperation," declared Pillay in a clear reference to Israel which has refused to meet the group.
Israel invaded Gaza on December 27, 2008 and fighting continued until January 18, 2009, leaving more than 1,000 people dead.
Pillay said the team's purpose was to investigate "all allegations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations" during the three-week Israeli action, which Israel said was launched to halt rocket attacks from Gaza.
But Islamic and other developing countries, who hold a built-in majority on the Council, insist the mission is to look into what they say were Israeli war crimes. Western countries say the investigation should be impartial and balanced.
The mission made its first visit to Gaza from June 1-5, crossing from Egypt because Israel declined to allow the team to enter its territory. Israel argues that the mission was told to find it guilty in advance.
In Gaza, Goldstone's team held meetings and interviews and visited sites where Hamas and other Palestinian groups say Israeli forces killed civilians, including some sheltering in U.N. offices.
The mission is drafting a report on its findings, and plans to return to the territory at the end of this month, Council officials said. It will also be holding public hearings in Geneva, where the Rights Council sits.
According to one Palestinian rights group, a total of 1,417 people including 926 civilians were killed during the Israeli assault on the coastal enclave of 1.5 million people.
Israel says 1,166 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, 295 of them civilians and the rest Hamas fighters and other militants. It lost 10 soldiers during the action, and says 3 civilians died during Hamas rocket fire into Israeli territory.
In her Monday speech, Pillay also called on Israel to end its economic blockade of Gaza, saying this was driving the people of the territory deeper into extreme poverty. Israel says it is allowing essential humanitarian supplies into Gaza.
Refer to an earlier post of mine about Richard Goldstone,
in which I examined in depth who he really is, and showed you that he is a Jew by name only , as he is professionally connected FOR LIFE to the KNIGHTS TEMPLAR, A CRUSADER ORDER. Therefore do not expect ANY objectivity on his part.
The only purpose for his visit is to fulfill the UN' s agenda, which is TO FIND ISRAEL GUILTY, and to create MASSIVE, WORLDWIDE ANTISEMITISM, as a very public and noteworthy sequel to the infamous WEEK FOR PALESTINE. The goal is to continuously weaken the Jewish people and Israel to the point of destruction, and this is one more step in the same direction.
BUT YOU SHOULD KNOW, AND I AM TELLING THEM, AND I AM TELLING YOU: THEY WILL FAIL!!
- GENEVA — The United Nations on Friday appointed a widely respected South African judge who is a trustee of Hebrew University to lead a high-level mission to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Str
Israel refused to say if it would cooperate.
Richard Goldstone, the former U.N. chief prosecutor for war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, was named to head the investigation ordered by the Human Rights Council in January.
According to the mandate, the investigation should focus on Palestinian victims of the three-week war between Israel and Hamas earlier this year.
But Goldstone, a Jewish former judge of the South African constitutional court, said his team would investigate "all violations of international humanitarian law" before, during and after the conflict that ended Jan. 18.
"It's in the interest of the victims. It brings acknowledgment of what happened to them. It can assist the healing process," he told reporters in Geneva. "I would hope it's in the interests of all the political actors, too."
Martin Uhomoibhi, the council president, explained the apparent contradiction by saying the mission always intended to evaluate the proportionality of Israel's response, which requires that acts of both warring parties be examined.
Israel has rejected any participation in previous council investigations, including one led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, calling them biased.
It would not say Friday if it would cooperate with the delegation, which also includes British professor of international law Christine Chinkin, Pakistani lawyer Hina Jilani and retired Irish Army Col. Desmond Travers.
"This committee is instructed not to seek out the truth but to single out Israel for alleged crimes," said Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. He called the 47-nation body "discredited" and said it has no "practically credibility at all."
Goldstone said he was "shocked, as a Jew," to be invited to head the mission.
"It adds an additional dimension," said Gladstone, who is on the board of governors at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "I've taken a deep interest in what happens in Israel. I'm associated with organizations that have worked in Israel. And I believe I can approach the daunting task that I have accepted in an evenhanded and impartial manner."
Finally, a pleading letter by an Israeli ,which will of course fall onto deaf ears.
An open letter to Judge Richard Goldstone,
I am encouraged by your statement, quoted in The Forward of April 9, 2009, that you believe you can approach the daunting task of heading the UN inquiry into alleged war crimes in Gaza in an evenhanded and impartial manner.
While the "Cast Lead" operation will no doubt require a great deal of forensic investigation before arriving at a conclusion, there is one blatant deliberately cruel crime against humanity that cries out for your immediate attention. Not only your reputation as a humanitarian, but your declared evenhanded and impartial approach demand an immediate protest about the injustice of keeping kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit incommunicado for almost 1,000 days.
While there is much debate in the media on the evils of torture, one may ask if mental torture is exempt from censure. Else why is the deliberate torture of Gilad's family by Hamas ignored? What greater torture can there be than tormenting parents with 24/7 anxiety for three years about whether their son is dead, and if alive in what condition? In your opinion Sir, is this not as egregious as the short-term incidents of waterboarding we read so much about, reprehensible as they are?
And to add an appearance of horrific sadism, Hamas recently held a public rally during which a boy dressed in IDF uniform masqueraded as Gilad Shalit reading a letter in Hebrew, telling how badly he misses his parents, to the evident pleasure of the cheering crowd..
As you know, better than I, the Third Geneva Convention provides for humane treatment and the right of POW's to unfettered access to the Red Cross, as well as their right to send and receive monthly letters and cards. All of these rights are being denied to Shalit. While there may be some technical quibble about his status as a prisoner of war, I hope you will agree that the overriding motivation of international humanitarian law relating to warfare, is to protect all persons who become prisoners as a result of war, whether conducted by regular armies or militias. By its own admission, Hamas controls Shalit's fate. And as such, they are undeniably guilty of this appalling war crime.
By way of contrast, Palestinian prisoners in Israel enjoy visitation rights, including conjugal visits, access to telephones, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, lawyers' visits and even academic studies at state expense.
Gilad's family have been living this horrendous nightmare for 3 years, not knowing if he is dead or alive and fearing that he is possibly being tortured. I am sure you will agree that no human being with a conscience can fail to acknowledge and protest this diabolical cruelty.
Consequently, Sir, in the same manner as your conscience motivated you to support an appeal to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to open an investigation into violations of international humanitarian law in the Cast Lead operation, I appeal to you to similarly lend your prestige and influence in support of a humanitarian call on the US government to put pressure on Hamas by conditioning its pledge of $300 million for rebuilding Gaza, on the release of Gilad Shalit.
A considered reply would be very much appreciated and will be circulated as is this one.