SOUTH LEBANON: Israeli Refusal to Cooperate With United Nations Investigation Represents an Attempt to Shield Alleged War Criminals from Justice
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Israeli Refusal to Cooperate With United Nations Investigation Represents an Attempt to Shield Alleged War Criminals from Justice
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned at recent Israeli statements implying that the State of Israel will not cooperate with the independent investigation established by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The investigation is led by Justice Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Both tribunals were established by the United Nations Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The independent fact finding mission is mandated to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law, related to the recent 23 day Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The offensive claimed the lives of 1,417 Palestinians, 1,181 (83%) of whom were non-combatants: the protected persons of IHL. 13 Israelis also died, including 3 civilians. Civilian property in the Gaza Strip was extensively destroyed, initial investigations indicate that 21,000 houses were completely or partially destroyed, 6,636 dunums of agricultural land were razed, and approximately 1,500 factories and workshops were completely destroyed.
The excessively disproportionate civilian death toll and the extensive destruction of Gaza’s property and infrastructure demand judicial review. Many of the cases documented by PCHR amount to war crimes, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.