5) UN Human Rights Council Investigates Israel’s Actions in Assault on Gaza

By: Michelle Sherger, Pace International Law Review, Case Note and Comment Editor

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched an assault on Gaza.  The assault, which lasted 22 days, killed over 1,300 Gaza residents, wounded over 5,000 other residents, and wreaked havoc on Gaza’s infrastructure.  According to Israeli authorities, the purpose of the assault was to prevent Hamas from firing rockets into southern Israel from Gaza.
On April 3, 2009, the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council established an international fact-finding group to investigate whether Israel’s actions during the Gaza War violated international human rights laws.  Richard Goldstone, a South African jurist who was once the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, was appointed to lead the group.  The fifteen investigators in Goldstone’s group headed for Gaza on June 1, 2009, intending to spend their time speaking with victims, witnesses, Palestinian, Israeli, and international NGOs, and other experts.  Facing resistance from Israeli authorities, the group entered Gaza through Egypt rather than Israel.

The Israeli military maintains that it did not violate international law during the three-week war in Gaza. During its internal investigations, it said, it had not found a single case of an Israeli soldier deliberately hurting innocent Palestinian civilians.  The military also indicated that it used white phosphorus only to create smokescreens.  Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, however, maintain that Israel violated international law during its three-week assault on Gaza by using weapons that contained white phosphorus in civilian areas.  According to the Geneva Conventions, phosphorus bombs can be used to create smokescreens but cannot be used as weapons in civilian areas.
Hamas, unlike Israel, has pledged to fully cooperate with the UN investigators.  The investigators were expected to conclude the first portion of the investigation on June 5, 2009.

One comment

  1. To Michelle Sherger. Your post is anything but evenhanded. Here are the fundamentals, few seem to comprehend.

    Israel was born out of the Nazi holocaust WWII. Its military might is driven by an intense sense of survival commensurate with a non-repetition of this form of atrocity. Its positioning in a continuing hostile neighborhood environment exacerbates its obsession with its self defense. Despite the propaganda to the contrary, it has NO expansionist charter. It is a tired and reluctant participant in wars that are thrust upon IT.

    In summing up, peace in the region can only come about by the genuine renuncification of its edict of the destruction of the state of Israel by its hostile neighbors – which won’t happen. America and the UN fail to comprehend this. A barrage of other confusing details and obstructions are brought up to complicate this situation but the basics are these.

    “Were Israel to lay down its arms, that would herald the end of Israel.
    Were the Arabs to lay down their arms, that would herald the commencement of peace.”

    Believe it or not, the impetus has to come ONLY from WITHIN the militant extremist Muslim groups, AND NOWHERE ELSE. And when’s that likely to occur?

    Hope this helps clear some misconceptions.

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