Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict Mary McGowan Davis.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s probe into the Gaza war will look beyond alleged Israeli human rights violations and also examine those supposedly committed by armed Palestinian groups.
The commission of inquiry’s new chairwoman Mary McGowan Davis publicly clarified the matter on Monday.
The commission was tasked with investigating human rights violations that occurred in Gaza, east Jerusalem and the West Bank from June 13, 2014 until the end of Operation Protective Edge.
But it was assumed that the probe’s overwhelming focus would be on Israeli actions, as in past UNHRC reports.
“The commission has interpreted its mandate as including investigation of the activities of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza; including attacks on Israel, as well as the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip and Israeli actions in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem,” McGowan Davis said during a UNHRC meeting in Geneva.
She said that the commission was looking at a broad range of alleged violations committed by all parties and was considering the impact of the conflict on all human rights including; economic, social and cultural rights.
The commission had initially been scheduled to deliver its report on Monday but asked for a delay until June so it could have more time to weigh the evidence it collected.
It explained the matter to the UNHRC in a brief statement. “The commission would like to reassure the victims and witnesses who have testified before the commission that we remain committed to this process and intend to do justice to their submissions,” McGowan Davis said.
She told the UNHRC, however, that it had not been able to actually visit Gaza. Egypt refused access to the Strip through the Rafah Crossing for security reasons. Israel did not grant passage through the Erez Crossing, because it has refused to cooperate with the commission.
Israel has refused to cooperate with the commission of inquiry. It has likened the probe to a kangaroo court whose conclusions were determined even before the investigation began. It was particularly concerned because the commission’s former chairman William Schabas had said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be in the dock before the International Criminal Court.
Now that Schabas has resigned and McGowan Davis has replaced him, there is some speculation that the report’s tone might be more balanced.
McGowan Davis’s statement to the UNHRC on Monday, however, did not immediately assuage Israel.
Sources in Jerusalem said they were still skeptical and that, “Only with the final report will we be able to know if there has been some positive change or not.”