Ashkelon rocket victim livid report ignored her plight

Ashkelon rocket victim l

Mirela Siderer's face is still scarred from injuries she sustained when a Gazan rocket hit an Ashkelon mall in May 2008, as she treated a patient in a clinic there. Since that fateful day, the gynecologist, a 53-year-old mother of two, has undergone seven operations for her wound, and she is in need of an eighth. Although the clinic reopened after three months, she has not been well enough to work. On Saturday night, she left Israel for Geneva to address the UN Human Rights Council, which on Tuesday debated the 429-page report on Operation Cast Lead compiled by a four-person investigatory team led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. While the government chose not to cooperate with the Goldstone mission, Siderer agreed to testify for their report. On Tuesday, she told the council how upset she was to discover that her story had been reduced to one line, in which the document states that she was one of three people seriously wounded in the rocket attack. "Judge Goldstone, in a 500-page report, why did you completely ignore my story? My name appears only in passing, in brackets, in a technical context," said Siderer, who spoke on behalf of the Geneva-based UN Watch NGO. "I feel humiliated," she told the council. "Why are there only two pages about Israeli victims like me, who suffered thousands of rockets over eight years?" She later told The Jerusalem Post by telephone that back in 2008, she was examining a woman in her early 20s when the rocket struck. One moment she was standing, and the next, she was under the examining table. She immediately called her husband, Moshe. "I said, 'There was an attack. I'm injured. Save me," Siderer recalled. At the hearing on Tuesday, she said, "Judge Goldstone, I told you all of this, in detail. I testified in good faith. You sent me this letter, saying, "Your testimony is an essential part of the mission's fact-finding activities." As she spoke, Siderer held up a copy of that letter. As a doctor, she treated everyone who came into her clinic equally, including women from Gaza, Siderer said. But the Goldstone Commission did not treat her or her country with the same sense of fairness. It was misleading for the commission to examine only the 13 months from June 2008 to July 2009, she said. Palestinians in Gaza had fired rockets into Israel for eight years. Siderer asked Goldstone, who was in the room, "Why did you choose to focus on the period of my country's response, but not on that of the attacks that caused it?" Goldstone responded, "I am truly upset that she feels humiliated by the report." He added that she was referenced in the same manner as the other victims. "She was referred to in the report as one of the people that was injured in a rocket attack," he said. Goldstone said the testimony of those who spoke with the commission can be found on the Web site of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. But Siderer told the Post that during the summer, Goldstone had e-mailed her to say that her testimony was "very influential. But when I saw the report, I did not see how my testimony had influenced anything." It was difficult to address the council and so she left after her making her statement and did not hear Goldstone's response, she said.