Some good news first: On 3 April 2009 the UN Human Rights Council appointed Justice Richard Goldstone to lead an independent international fact-finding mission into abuses of international humanitarian law that occurred during 22 days of military activities. This follows the Human Rights Council’s resolution of 12 January 2009 that decided to dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip during the military operations. This mandate was dismissed as biased by some governments, human rights organizations and international bodies. Justice Goldstone and the President of the Human Rights Council clarified that the mission would talk to victims on both sides of the conflict, stating that the mandate of the mission could only be credibly fulfilled if the abuses committed by all parties were investigated. Amnesty International has lent its full support to the investigation on these terms.
Now the bad news: Israel has indicated that it will not cooperate with the mission, while the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza has said that it will give the mission the access and the information it requires. Israel’s cooperation is crucial: without it the investigators will not have access to Israel and will be restricted to research in the Gaza Strip. If this happens the mission’s credibility will be undermined and its report will be dismissed as one-sided.
Unfortunately, despite the positive steps, no government has explicitly given its support to the Goldstone-led mission. However, recently the UN Secretary-General has signalled that all parties, including Israel, should cooperate. Without a diplomatic push, the Israeli government may persist in its unwillingness to cooperate and these important initiatives are in danger of remaining unrealized.
Justice Goldstone and his colleagues are traveling this weekend (29 May 09) to the Gaza Strip through Egypt. They are still waiting for a sign of cooperation from Israel. They have only one month for the fieldwork, and that month is June 2009: starting Monday. It's now or never to take action for their work to proceed effectively.
WRITE TO YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS & PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ASK YOUR GOVERNMENT TO PRESS ISRAEL TO COOPERATE:
Express strong support for the fact-finding mission led by Justice Goldstone and disappointment at your government’s lack of explicit endorsement of it. State that, notwithstanding the Israeli authorities’ denials, more and more evidence is coming to light of violations of international law committed during the 22 days of military action in December and January, thanks to the work of the UN Board of Inquiry and human rights researchers. Such developments highlight the need for the full truth about what happened to be revealed. Most importantly, the victims of violations of international law, and particularly of war crimes, deserve to see justice done.
Call your Representative at (202) 224-3121 or (866) 338-1015. To find out who your Representative is go to http://www.house.gov
Call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 or (866) 338-1015. To find out who your Senators are go to http://www.senate.gov
Contact President Obama:
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President, United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500