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UN Investigator Denounces Disproportionate Use Of Force by Israel

  • Lisa Schlein

UN Investigator Denounces Disproportionate Use Of Force by Israel

UN Investigator Denounces Disproportionate Use Of Force by Israel

The special U.N. investigator on the Occupied Palestinian Territories is denouncing what he calls, Israel's disproportionate use of force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the name of security.

U.N. special investigator Richard Falk is criticizing Israel for not allowing him to enter Gaza to conduct his human-rights investigations. But he says he plans to go to Gaza soon and will bypass Israeli authorities by entering from Egypt.

He praises the controversial Goldstone report and calls for its implementation. One of the report's recommendations calls for an independent international investigation into the events surrounding the three-week war in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.

Falk believes the Goldstone report should be followed. But notes the report has had the inadvertent effect of diverting attention from other issues of occupation that raise serious human-rights concerns.

"First of all with respect to Gaza, especially overlooked was the degree to which the unlawful blockade of the Gaza strip both preceded the Israeli attacks and continued after Israel withdrew its military forces until this very day," said Richard Falk.

Falk says the persistence of the blockade is in violation of several provisions of the fourth Geneva Convention. This includes the duty of the occupier to protect and refrain from the collective punishment of the civilian population.

"Significantly, recently the May 31st incident with the freedom flotilla achieved what neither governments nor the United Nations could accomplish, namely effective attention being given to the blockade and the pressure to finally lift this blockade," he said.

Israeli U.N. Ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar voices his dismay with, what he calls, the obsessive, one-sided actions of the U.N. Human Rights Council against Israel.

He says Israel deeply regrets the loss of life, but will continue to defend itself from rocket attacks and attempts of terrorists to enter Israel to kill its citizens.

Political Counselor to the U.S. Mission in Geneva, Mark Cassayre, says Washington regrets the unbalanced mandate of the Special Investigator, which only allows him to monitor the situation in Israel. He says the investigator also should be allowed to examine what is happening in the Palestinian territories.

"The report's conclusions and recommendations are seriously flawed," said Mark Cassayre. "The special rapporteur fails to adequately address the responsibility of Hamas in the lead-up to the Gaza conflict. And, indeed, seeks to minimize that responsibility. Mr. Falk also fails to address the real and serious abuses and violations of international law by Hamas in Gaza as it seeks to promote its radical agenda and entrench itself in power."

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has appointed a committee of three independent experts. Its mandate is to monitor Israeli and Palestinian investigations into the serious violations of international humanitarian and human-rights law reported by the U.N. Fact Finding Mission, led by Justice Richard Goldstone.

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