The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) recently forwarded a U.N. notice to its list-serve, soliciting testimonies from Palestinians injured due to the last round of hostilities in Gaza. The notice appears here and is reproduced at the bottom of this post, with portions of text highlighted for emphasis.
The U.N. notice is ostensibly directed to everyone–including Israelis– affected by the Gaza hostilities last summer. It is unclear how many Israelis are currently aware of the U.N. solicitation, and all efforts should be made to broaden awareness of it to among the Israeli public, so that people can respond.
The stated mandate of the Commission is: “to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after.” (Emphasis added.) It is not clear whether this means the Commission is supposed to investigate violations which originate in what the Commission deems “occupied territory” (like Hamas missiles fired from Gaza and landing in Sderot) or violations that affect people living in “occupied territory” (which might preclude people harmed when rockets targeted Ashdod, Ashkelon West Jerusalem or Tel Aviv). However, if the Commission is to conduct a meaningful assessment of the violations in the context of the Gaza war, it should clearly be looking at both.
Although the Israeli government has chosen to ignore the Commission, due to its suspected bias against Israel, a grass-roots effort to keep the UN Commission of Inquiry in the 2014 Gaza Conflict true to its mission to investigate the conduct of both sides – and and reveal the direct results of the Palestinian leadership’s campaign to target Israeli civilians with violent “resistance” activity in the context of “the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after” Operation Protective Edge – is important.
Families with children traumatized by Palestinian rocket fire, or individuals who suffered due to any of the other “resistance“ activities encouraged, abetted and praised by the Palestinian leadership surrounding Operation Protective Edge might want to weigh in. The U.N. Commission should receive testimony from any Israelis traumatized as a result Palestinian- violence sourced in the last round of Gaza-related violence.
The e-mail address for submission of testimony is in the U.N. notice, reproduced below.
Anyone traumatized last summer as a result of the activities of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, and affecting full range of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights can and should present the UN with testimony. This should be done as soon as possible, because the deadline for submission of testimony has been extended from January 31st to February 15, 2015. Submissions can just be a page or two.
The U.N Commission on Human Rights site’s Call for Submissions has the notice in English, Arabic and Hebrew. It should be translated also to the official U.N. languages of Russian, French and Spanish – and probably to Dutch, Yiddish and Amharic, to invite Israelis who are native speakers of those languages to easily submit their testimony. For now, though, the Commission has limited submissions to English, Arabic, Hebrew or any UN official language.
UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza hears moving testimony, seeks access
United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict
GENEVA ( 23 December 2014) – The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, (established under Resolution A/HRC/RES/S-21/1) continues to do its utmost to obtain access to the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and access to Israel, in order to fulfil its mandate. The Commission has repeatedly sought the cooperation of the Government of Israel to facilitate access so the Commissioners can meet face to face a wide range of victims of alleged violations and also the relevant authorities. In the absence of a response from Israel, the Commission of Inquiry is still actively seeking the cooperation of the Government of Egypt, which has indicated it is ready to facilitate the Commissioners’ travel to Gaza as soon as the security situation permits travel there.
In the meantime, the Commission of Inquiry is in the process of interviewing a wide spectrum of witnesses and victims in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory using technology to overcome the physical distance. The testimony heard so far has been very moving and the Commissioners are deeply conscious of the enormous responsibility the victims have placed on them by trusting them with accounts of very intimate and traumatic experiences.
The Commissioners’ mandate from the Human Rights Council is, “to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after”. The Commissioners wish to make it clear that they interpret this mandate to include investigations of the activities of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including attacks on Israel as well as the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip and Israeli actions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. The Commission of Inquiry is looking at a broad range of alleged violations committed by all parties, and is considering the full range of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.
The Commissioners personally wish to reassure all those who have suffered so intensely as a result of this conflict that they will do their utmost to fulfil their mandate to the best of their abilities. The three Commissioners have travelled to the region and plan follow-up trips in early 2015. They invite members of the public to make submissions to the Commission in English, Arabic, Hebrew or any UN official language, by post or email. Details of how to do this are given below.
Procedure for submissions:
Submissions may be sent:
By email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
By post to: The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, Palais de Nations, CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland.
Please indicate whether the submission, or any part of it, should be treated confidentially.
Submissions should be sent no later than 15 February 2015 in a written form and must include the contact details for the author(s) of the submission;