An Israeli boy runs up the stairs in a public bomb shelter..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict chairwoman Mary McGowan Davis responded positively to an invitation from Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin to visit southern Israel and meet with its residents.
Jelin released the letter on Thursday, hours after terrorists shot a rocket from Gaza, saying that, “[it’s] a year after the Protective Edge war and our deterrence has expired. Hamas is committing war crimes, terrorist organizations are shooting at civilian towns and [the] IDF has to defend the state’s citizens.”
The Yesh Atid MK called on the government to make sure the army works at full force, while engaging in diplomacy and standing strong before the world to explain that Israel has the right to defend itself.
Last month, Jelin wrote to McGowan Davis following rocket fire from Gaza: “Last night, for the sixth time since the end of Operation Protective Edge, citizens of Israel, innocent men, women and children, experienced another night of sirens.... [Terrorists] were firing at innocent citizens who have done nothing to them.”
Jelin criticized McGowan Davis for not calling those who shoot rockets at Israel terrorist organizations in her report on the 2014 operation and the UN for not acting to support the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.
“The committee expressed concern about Israel’s use of force during the operation, but has no such concern about a terrorist organization routinely shooting at innocent civilians in Israel,” he stated.
The Yesh Atid MK and former head of the Eshkol Regional Council, near the Gaza Strip, recounted his experience, giving testimony before the UN commission in Geneva last year.
“I was asked by you and others questions which could only have stemmed from total unfamiliarity or a grave misunderstanding of the situation,” he wrote.
“How could the rocket which exploded in Israel tonight, near a city, be anything other than a war crime? Would you define it as fire at military targets? Do you still stand behind the de facto comparison between a sovereign democratic state and a terrorist organization?” According to Jelin, the next commission of inquiry must begin directly, as terrorist organizations in Gaza are firing at Israelis and forcing the IDF to act to protect civilians.
Jelin invited McGowan Davis to the South to meet with residents “who educate their children to protect the innocent, people who seek a horizon of hope and peace.”
McGowan Davis responded that if she has the opportunity, she would be honored to meet with Israelis and Palestinians, though she would have preferred to be able to do so before preparing the report.
“I would welcome the opportunity to exchange our respective perspectives on the Commission’s mission and the report that we produced,” she wrote, not addressing any of Jelin’s specific comments.
McGowan Davis thanked Jelin for making the trip to Geneva to testify to the committee and congratulated him on his election to the Knesset.