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UN special rapporteur Gaza comments ‘hugely significant’

20 March, 2009

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brún has described as ‘hugely significant’ comments by Richard Falk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories about preliminary evidence of war crimes during the Israeli assault on Gaza from December 27 to January 18.


Ms de Brún, who recently returned from a cross-party MEP delegation visit to Gaza, said that the reported comments contained in the report from the U.N. special rapporteur, which he is to present to the Human Rights Council on Monday next, echoed much of the evidence she had seen and heard during her visit.


Ms de Brún said:  “Civil society representative told us of the importance that someone should be held accountable for what had happened to the civilian population and the basic infrastructure of Gaza during the recent assault in which over 1,300 Palestinians including hundreds of children were killed and many others were injured and maimed.


“They feared that if there was no mechanism for investigating the rights and wrongs of what had taken place during the Israeli air strikes and ground assault then the likelihood was that such action would be repeated.


“It is hugely significant that the UN special rapporteur Richard Falk has singled out for mention the issues which were highlighted to us, including the failure to distinguish civilian targets, the targeting of schools, ambulances and health facilities, and the nature of the attacks and the weapons used in a densely populated area where the civilians had no chance to flee because the border crossings were sealed.


“We must now ensure that there is an international investigation into evidence of war crimes” de Brún concluded. ENDS





In one the daily blogs written by Ms de Brún during her Palestine visit, she said:

“Young, committed, Israeli human rights campaigners talk to us from three different NGOs; B'tselem The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Gisha the Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement and the Director for the Occupied Palestinian Territories of Physicians for Human Rights. They underline many of the messages we have heard already, and it is good to see their commitment to international human rights standards.

They set out for us a number of the breaches of international humanitarian law in the last few weeks, and questions to be asked about the behaviour and policy of the Israeli forces, including the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians and the denial of emergency medical aid to the injured. They make clear their remit as Israeli organisations is to look at the actions of the Israeli forces. They stress that in most cases it is important to look at the policy and not just at the actions of individual soldiers. By now this list has become familiar to many of us but it shocking nonetheless to hear it re-iterated. And as always, just when I think I have started to grasp the enormity of it all I hear some new detail that horrifies me even more. Amnesty International has already released a report and Human Rights Watch is due to release a number of reports on Gaza. If these do not provoke an outcry then we have truly lost our ability to feel outrage at the wanton disregard of human rights.

The young Israeli human rights campaigners stop short of calling for Israel to be investigated for war crimes but the story they tell leaves me in no doubt that this needs to happen.”

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