Archive for UN Human Rights Council

Reaction out of Gaza to yet another resolution

Posted in Fatah, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, International community, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Peace process, Pictures, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , on 17/10/2009 by 3071km

Written by Ayman Mohyeldin

Date published: 16th October 2009

Source: The Middle East Blog

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The Goldstone vote at the UN Human Rights Council is being described as a victory for the Palestinian people. But for Palestinians, UN resolutions – at any level – have become a bittersweet experience that represent the duality of both international impotence and bias.

It’s being described as a victory for the Palestinian people and the political factions in Gaza were quick to embrace the Goldstone vote at the UN Human Rights Council.

The deposed government and Hamas both welcomed the outcome and immediately called for the international community to begin taking up the recommendations of the report by bringing charges against alleged Israeli war criminals responsible for the war on Gaza.

Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk said the Islamic movement would set up a committee to look into any “indications” of wrong doing in the Goldstone report against Hamas.

Reacting to the report and what possible implications it means for Hamas, Dr. Mahmoud Zahar rejected the notion that Hamas had committed any war crimes during the war. He also said Hamas would help in collecting and presenting evidence that could help lead to criminal cases against Israeli officials.

Litigation

Many here want to see prominent international jurists, international organizations and human rights group pursue cases against Israeli political and military leaders on behalf of Palestinian victims. In recent years, European courts have allowed for Palestinian victims represented by European lawyers and organizations to introduce cases in individual countries against Israeli officials, so far without much success. But Israeli officials are increasingly worried about traveling to European countries that have pending cases working their way through the legal system out of fear of being arrested.

That may be wishful for thinking for some on the streets of Gaza, who for the time being don’t draw a direct correlation between Friday’s vote in Geneva and the likely execution of justice for the victims and their families.

For Palestinians, UN resolutions – at any level – have become a bittersweet experience that represent the duality of both international impotence and bias. When the international community endorses a resolution that favors Palestinians, it usually lacks any traction and suffers from the looming threat of a US veto, which is always dangling overhead, meaning it is unlikely to pass. US-backed resolutions are seen as either watered-down or pro-Israeli.

When the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas caved in to international pressure and supported the deferral of the vote on the Goldstone report at the previous UNHCR session, he came under intense domestic criticism.

Hamas launched scathing attacks calling him a “traitor” and said he was no longer fit to represent the Palestinian people. Many in Gaza shared those sentiments. Palestinian factions, civil society and organizations condemned the decision. Palestinians were outraged that their leader would take an action widely seen as directly contravening the interests of his own people.

But there is a silver lining in all of this – in some ways, this was a victory for the Palestinian people. A spokesperson for the PFLP-GC (one of the dozens of Palestinian factions) summed up the vote by calling it a victory and an example of collective Palestinian action and unity.

Indeed thats what many will now uphold as the Goldstone example. When Palestinian leaders, under pressure and facing public accountability from civil society and ordinary people act in the interest of their people, results can be achieved.

Now, if Hamas and Fatah can just sign a national reconciliation pact and agree on national political unity, what a week it would be for the Palestinians!

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UN body debates Gaza war report

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, International community, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Peace process, Pictures, USA foreign policy, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , , , on 15/10/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 15th October 2009

Source: BBC News

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Navi Pillay in Geneva, 15 Oct

Pillay says punishing war criminals is vital for building peace

Members of the UN Human Rights Council are debating whether to endorse a report into the Israeli offensive in Gaza last winter.

The report by veteran South African judge Richard Goldstone accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes.

Israel rejects the Goldstone report as biased. Its UN envoy says endorsing it would be a setback for peace hopes.

The UN human rights chief has backed the report and called on both sides to investigate the alleged crimes.

“A culture of impunity continues to prevail in the occupied territories and in Israel,” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at the opening of the special meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

She called for “impartial, independent, prompt and effective investigations into reported violations of human rights and humanitarian law.”

‘Setback for peace’

Israel has already come under pressure from its allies – including the US, UK and France – to investigate the UN allegations.

But Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aharon Leshno Yaar, said the resolution threatened to “set back hopes for peace”.

The text of the draft resolution says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should monitor Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the report.

It also contains a condemnation of Israel’s policies in East Jerusalem, another issue likely to divide the Council.

A vote is expected on Friday.

At its first debate two weeks ago, the Council decided to delay its response for six months.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at first agreed to this under pressure from the US aimed at getting the Middle East peace process back on track.

But after much public criticism at home, he demanded that the debate be reopened.

Report findings

The Goldstone report accuses Israel of using disproportionate force and deliberately harming civilians during the 22-day conflict which began on 27 December 2008.

Palestinian Hamas militants are accused of indiscriminate rocket fire at Israeli civilians.

The report urges the Security Council to refer allegations to the International Criminal Court if either side fails to investigate suspects within six months.

Israel has rejected the evidence, saying it has already investigated its troops’ conduct, clearing most of the subjects of wrongdoing. Hamas has also denied committing war crimes.

Israeli military action destroyed thousands of homes, hundreds of factories and 80 official buildings in Gaza.

Palestinians and human rights groups say more than 1,400 people were killed in the violence between 27 December 2008 and 16 January 2009, more than half of them civilians.

Israel puts the number of deaths at 1,166 – fewer than 300 of them civilians. Three Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli soldiers were also killed.

Israel says Gaza war was ‘necessary’ and ‘proportionate’

Posted in Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, Israel, Operation Cast Lead, War crimes with tags , , on 01/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 31st July 2009

Source: BBC News

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An Israeli government report has said that the Israeli military campaign in Gaza earlier this year was “necessary and proportionate”.

The war and its conduct have been widely criticised, with Israel and Hamas accused of war crimes.

Palestinian sources say about 1,400 Gazans died in the conflict. Thirteen Israeli died.

The report said 100 inquiries had been launched into the conduct of soldiers and 14 criminal investigations opened.

According to the United Nations, the Israeli military campaign left more than 50,000 homes, 800 industrial properties and 200 schools damaged or destroyed, as well as 39 mosques and two churches.

The UN Human Rights Council has appointed former South African judge Richard Goldstone to investigate whether war crimes were committed during the conflict.

Israel has declined to co-operate, accusing the UN Human Rights Council of bias against it.

Allegations persist against the Israeli military about killings of unarmed civilians, the use of civilians as human shields and indiscriminate destruction of property.

Israeli officials insist troops went to great lengths to protect civilians, that Hamas endangered non-combatants by firing from civilian areas and that homes and buildings were destroyed only when there was a specific military need to do so.

The conflict lasted for 22 days, ending on 18 January.

‘Incessant’ rockets

“Israel had both a right and an obligation to take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas’ almost incessant rocket and mortar attacks,” the report, issued on Thursday, said.

It says 12,000 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel between 2000 and 2008 – nearly 3,000 in 2008 alone.

The report explains that damage caused to UN facilities by Israeli strikes should be blamed on Hamas, which Israel says set up rocket launchers nearby.

Allegations that dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed or wounded by white phosphorus shells are dismissed.

The report detailed steps aimed at limiting civilian casualties. It says 2.5 million leaflets were dropped and 165,000 phone calls made warning civilians to leave areas that would be targeted.

It also says that humanitarian aid was allowed into Gaza throughout the conflict.

Palestinians have said it was not safe to leave their homes to try to escape fighting and shelling, that they were unable to access the humanitarian aid.