The UN team headed by Judge Richard Goldstone is preparing to visit Gaza to investigate alleged war crimes of Israel Defense Forces troops and Hamas during the Gaza War (December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009). In a resolution adopted in January, the Human Rights Council gave the UN inquiry team a mandate to investigate the war crimes, as people around the world demanded that the alleged war crimes must be investigated. Several human rights organizations from around the world, including some from Israel, and many prominent people – including several Nobel Peace Prize laureates such as Bishop Desmond Tutu (1984), President Jimmy Carter (2002), and Mairead Maguire (1976) had called for an investigation.
Of particular concern is Israel’s use of white phosphorus bombs on civilians in densely populated areas of Gaza; the use of phosphorus bombs in densely populated areas is forbidden under War Laws.
Judge Richard Goldstone’s team includes Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani, and retired Irish colonel Desmond Travers, and British international law professor Christine Chinkin. The team held its first closed-door meetings in Geneva this week. Israel has said that it will not cooperate with the United Nations inquiry.
Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, and Reuters reported on May 09, 09 that Ms. Navi Pillay , the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that of special concern was an incident in which IDF bombed a house in Gaza, killing 30 Palestinian civilians.
This incident has been extensively covered by several newspapers, and the BBC and Aljazeera TV. Four days after the house was bombed, the International Red Cross found several toddlers lying amidst their dead mothers and several decaying corpses; the toddlers were hungry and starving, and too weak to walk because they were without food and water. The Israelis had prevented the rescue workers from entering the house to give the surviving children aid, and this, understandably, lead to demand from people shocked and horrified by the incident that such acts must be investigated to determine whether they constitute war crimes.
Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ