UN Gaza mission meeting in Geneva

Israel objects to UNHRC organized council but respects mission leader Richard Goldstone.

Judge Goldstone 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
Judge Goldstone 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
A four-person United Nations fact-finding mission to investigate human rights abuses during Israel's 22-day January operation in Gaza is meeting this week in Geneva. Israel has objected to the one-sided nature of the mission - which was organized at the Human Rights Council's request - even though it respects mission leader Richard Goldstone of South Africa, who was a prosecutor for international criminal tribunals on Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It's unclear when the group intends to come to the region. Israel has said it will not cooperate with the mission and is unlikely to grant its members visas. Goldstone's mission bears no connection to Ian Martin's UN report, publicized Tuesday, regarding Israeli attacks on UN facilities during the Gaza operation. In contrast, Goldstone's mission is charged with examining human rights abuses and violations that occurred throughout the entire operation. Other team members include Christine Chinkin from the London School of Economics and the University of London; Hina Jilani, advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former special representative of the secretary-general on human rights defenders; and retired Irish Col. Desmond Travers, a member of the board of directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI). At the start of April, Goldstone told reporters he planned to equally explore human rights violations by both Israelis and Palestinians. "I should make it very clear that as far as I am concerned, the invitation I received from the [Human Rights Council] president makes it very clear this is to be an independent, evenhanded and unbiased investigation," he said. But Israel, in objecting to the mission, has said that what is relevant is the one-sided mandate Goldstone received from the council, and not his own personal plans to expand the scope of the investigation.