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[Statement] Gaza: Time to take concrete steps toward the realization of international justice

One year has passed since the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict released a report (the Goldstone Report) on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law which were perpetrated during the Gaza Conflict which lasted from December 2008 to January 2009. The report called for both sides to conduct good faith investigations and recommended that the U.N. Security Council should consider the situation and, in the case where good faith investigations were not conducted, refer the situation in Gaza to the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, individual accountability for violations has still not been brought to light.  

The Committee of Independent Experts was appointed to monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other investigative proceedings undertaken by both parties of the conflict, in accordance with the U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution which was adopted in March this year. On September 21, the Committee released its report, and on September 27 formally submitted it to the Human Rights Council.

According to the report, it is clear that both Israeli and the Palestinian sides have not implemented investigations in conformity with international standards on violations of international law, including the cases reported by the Goldstone Report as violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The report also pointed out that Israel has consistently declined to cooperate with the Committee. Further, Israel has carried out only four prosecutions of IDF Soldiers, and only one of which led to a conviction for a credit card theft.

Israel has not investigated those responsible for planning, ordering and overseeing the military offensive, "Operation Cast Lead". The Israeli organization in charge of the investigations has little independence, and its working methods do not meet international standards of impartiality and transparency. On the other hand, the Palestinian side has also failed to prosecute any members of the armed groups involved.

On September 23, the international Fact-Finding Mission mandated by the Human Rights Council released a report on the Israeli attacks against civilians on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The Mission concluded that "[t]he conduct of the Israeli military...towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence", and that "there is clear evidence to support prosecutions of wilful killing, torture or inhumane treatment, and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health", and that such conduct constituted grave violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Mission also pointed out that the blockade of the Gaza Strip was unlawful.

It is unacceptable for the international community to allow a situation wherein grave human rights violations remain uninvestigated and the realization of justice is delayed. The tolerance of the situation of impunity may lead to the perpetration of similar human rights abuses.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has deepened, despite the resolutions that the U.N. General Assembly adopted last November and this February on the Gaza conflict, which called for investigations that conform with international standards. The long-standing blockade imposed on Gaza has also contributed to the deteriorating situation.

The Human Rights Council, as the primary institution on human rights in the U.N., should display initiative and find a way to resolve this situation. Now is the time for us to resort to measures that will realize international justice.


Human Rights Now (HRN) requests to the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution including the following:

1.       To acknowledge that failure of the investigations carried out by both Israeli and Palestinian sides in accordance with the international standards; 

2.        To request the U.N. Secretary-General to submit a report of the implementation status of the Goldstone report, together with the report of the Committee of Independent Experts and the report of the International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla incident to the Security Council;

3.        To request the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the     United Nations Charter, to ensure accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the Gaza conflict and the attacks on the Freedom Flotilla, through legal measures including referral of the situation to the ICC; and

4.        To reiterate the demand for Israel to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip so that human rights may once again have effect.