UN human rights investigators arrive in Gaza

UN human rights investigators arrive in Gaza

[JURIST] A team of investigators from the UN Human Rights Council [official website] arrived in Gaza Monday to begin examining alleged violations of international human rights law during December and January's fighting between Israel and Hamas. The team is headed by former South African Constitutional Court [official profile] judge Richard Goldstone, who was also the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official websites]. The team entered Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing after Israel announced [JURIST report] that it would not cooperate with the investigation because it doubted the mission's objectivity. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak [official profile] repeated the position [UPI report] Tuesday in a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile].

Goldstone was appointed to head the investigation [JURIST report] in April, amongst strong criticism [JURIST report] of the investigation from Israel. The probe follows a previous report [text, PDF; JURIST report], authored by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk [appointment release], which criticized Israel for failing to take adequate precautions to distinguish between civilians and combatants in their offensives in the region. Both Israel and the US criticized [DOS briefing] the report, calling the rapporteur's views "anything but fair." In April, an internal Israeli military investigation found that war crimes had not been committed [JURIST report] in the offensive despite individual reports by Israeli soldiers [Haaretz report]. Israel has already disputed [JURIST report] a previous report to the UNHRC that accused it of human rights violations.