UNHRC to Israel: Probe Gaza, start working on settler evacuations

Report recommends compensation for Gazan victims and punishment for human rights violators.

October 31, 2014 04:33
3 minute read.

A UN worker gestures after what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike outside a UN-run school in the Gaza Strip on August 3.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The United Nations Human Rights Committee called on Israel to probe its last three Gaza conflicts and to begin working toward evacuating West Bank settlements in its most recent written report published on Thursday.

The Human Rights Committee issued its call at the end of its 112th session in Geneva this month, in which it examined Israel’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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Israel, the committee said in a written report, “should ensure that all human rights violations committed during its military operations in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014 are thoroughly, effectively, independently and impartially investigated.”

It added, that those who committed human rights violations, “in particular persons in positions of command, are prosecuted and sanctioned in the manner commensurate with the gravity of the acts committed.”

The committee recommended that Gazan victims of human rights violations be compensated.

It asked for the lifting of all aspects of the Gaza blockade that impede civilian life, such as restrictions on the movement of people and goods.

The report also called for rerouting of the security barrier to the pre-1967 lines, halt settlement activity, stop expropriation of Palestinian land and look to evacuate citizens from the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Israel, it said, should “take measures aimed at the withdrawal of all settlers from those territories.”

Among its other requests was for the cessation of torture, home demolitions and excessive use of force by the IDF.

Israel first ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1991 and was one of the initial signatories to the treaty when the UN first adopted it in 1966.

Strenuous efforts have been made to show compliance to the Human Rights Committee, a body that is composed of 18 independent international human rights experts, including one from Israel.

Earlier this month a high level delegation traveled to Geneva to testify before the committee, which conducted its fourth periodic review of Israel’s actions to uphold the convention.

In advance of the meeting, it submitted a 72-page report on all human rights issues in areas of the country where Israeli law applies – territory within the Green Line, as well east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

But Israel has long argued before the committee that it is not obligated to uphold the covenant in the West Bank and in Gaza. It therefore, does not focus on these areas in its report, although it did verbally testify on the West Bank and Gaza earlier this month.

The committee has chastised Israel for this stance, both during the hearing it held earlier this month, and in the issued written report.

Human Rights Committee member Cees Flinterman, of the Netherlands spoke with reporters about this issue in Geneva on Thursday.

“Israel is one of the very few state parties that denies the extra territorial applicability of the covenant, which means that it denies that the covenant details obligations for Israel outside its territory,” he said.

But in spite of harsh words about the IDF’s conduct in the West Bank and Gaza, committee members said they appreciated the seriousness Israel displayed in dealing with the committee.

Its chairman, Sir Nigel Rodley, said that countries must report back within three to six years, depending on the gravity of the human rights violations.

He noted that Israel must next report to the committee within four years.

Israel’s human rights issues, he said, “are serious, but perhaps not necessarily the most serious.”

He noted this particular delegation that spoke with them in Geneva, “did not duck” questions, nor did they “filibuster.”

He added, “They tried to give us the information.” The dialogue, he said, “was constructive and positive.”

The Justice Ministry said it only received the committee’s report on Thursday and was working on a response.

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