UN: General Assembly Vote on Gaza War Crimes Report
UN: General Assembly Vote on Gaza War Crimes Report
Saturday, February 27,2010 12:56
By Bikya Masr Staff

On February 26, 2010, United Nations member states are scheduled to vote on a resolution that points the way to justice for victims of serious violations of the laws of war committed by Israel and Hamas during the Gaza conflict. The General Assembly should renew its call for both parties to undertake impartial investigations into those violations and request continued high-level UN monitoring of their responses, Human Rights Watch said.

The UN resolution adds to the international pressure on both sides to implement the key recommendation of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone report). European states have led global efforts to build mechanisms of accountability for serious violations of the laws of war and should support this resolution.

“Israel and Hamas have failed to conduct credible investigations thus far, so UN members need to ensure justice for civilian victims on all sides,” said Steve Crawshaw, UN advocate at Human Rights Watch. “All states that support justice should endorse the resolution and maintain pressure on the parties to hold perpetrators of war crimes to account.”

Israel and Hamas both submitted reports on their domestic investigations to the UN, but neither has taken meaningful steps to punish those responsible for serious violations. To date, Israel has not prosecuted any soldier for unlawful killings or other serious violations, or conducted credible investigations into military policies that may have contravened the laws of war or facilitated war crimes. Hamas has not disciplined or prosecuted any of its fighters or commanders for the thousands of unlawful rocket attacks into civilian areas in Israel before, during, and after the Gaza fighting.

The Goldstone report documents alleged war crimes and possible crimes against humanity by Israel and Hamas during 22 days of fighting in Gaza and southern Israel in December 2008 and January 2009. In November the General Assembly endorsed the report and called on Israel and the relevant Palestinian authorities to undertake independent investigations within three months. This resolution would extend that period for another five months.

“The issue is justice for the Palestinian and Israeli victims of the Gaza conflict,” Crawshaw said. “UN members should signal that double standards on justice aren’t acceptable with regard to war crimes.”