11/10/2009

Rafah: NGOs representatives, clans committees, legal and media practitioners demanded that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) do the utmost effort to restore the Goldstone Report to the table of discussion in the United Nations Council of Human Rights (UNCHR) in Geneva; they further demanded that the PNA resume the national dialogue in order to accomplish the national reconciliation, and elevate the case of Jerusalem over any other considerations. Moreover, the participants demanded that the international double-balance policy in dealing with the  human rights issues in the developing countries be disclosed. They stressed on the importance of dealing with allies from the international human rights organizations in order to form committees of international lobbying and advocacy forces in the remit of consolidating with the human rights cases in Palestine and following up the work of the committee the PNA has formed to investigate in the postponement of the Goldstone Report.  These demands were the outcome of a conference entitled “Ways of the Legal Pursuit of the Israeli War Criminals before the International Courts” organized by the National Society for Democracy and Law (NSDL) in cooperation with the German Friedrich Ebert Stifung (FES). The conference was held today morning in the Rafah governorate in the context of the activities of the Civil Society Institutions Network for Defending Human Rights in the Southern Governorates.

The opening speech in the conference was by the journalist Muhammad Al-Jamal, who talked about the repercussions of the Goldstone Report on the Palestinian Cause and the impact of its delay on the victims of the Israeli ‘Cast Lead’ military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Moammar said that this conference is being held while the Palestinian cause is living hard circumstances due to the persistence of the political divide and the widening gap caused by deferring the Goldstone Report that held Israel responsible for perpetrating war crimes against the Palestinian civilians during its recent offensive on the Gaza Strip from December 12, 2008 to January 18, 2009, during which hideous crimes against humanity were perpetrated, violating the human rights agreements and the International Humanitarian Law.  Israel had deployed extravagantly its military might inside densely-populated areas without justification. Whole families had been killed or wounded. All this happened while the Gaza Strip had been living under a tight siege  for three years.

Moammer highlighted the role of the international human rights organizations in disclosing the Israeli war crimes. The United Nations formed a fact-finding mission, which had been known as the Goldstone Mission in the remit of investigating the Israeli war crimes. The Mission concluded its report by holding Israel responsible for perpetrating crimes against humanity. The report had been submitted to the UNCHR. Moammer added that the Palestinian people was greatly shocked when the report had been deferred for six months, causing widespread reaction by Palestinian public and political forces, civil society institutions and human rights organizations.

On his part, Shaqura came across the efforts being exerted by the human rights organizations and the civil society institutions to disclose the Israeli practices against the Palestinian people before the international circles on the basis of the Fourth Geneva convention, of which Israel is one of the contracting parties. Shaqura talked about the justice systems offered before the Palestinians. Shaqura stated that the Israeli justice system is an unlikely option to the inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territories; for the Israeli justice system will convert in this case to a means of covering and defending the Israeli war crimes, the fact of which had been evident in hundreds of similar cases filed before the Israeli Justice.

Shaqura came across the international justice system, stating that this system is likely to be fair concerning the Palestinian people and the war crimes that had been perpetrated against it. Shaqura validated hid view by cases that had been previously filed before courts in Britain, Spain and Sweden by human rights institutions; in some cases of which these courts gave rulings against the Israelis who evade these rulings by leakages in the executive apparatuses of the state in order not to fall into political criticalness or by hindering the trials proceedings through political measures.  Shaqura concluded by stating that the Arab contracting states of the Fourth Geneva Convention bears great share in the responsibility of helping the Palestinian victims to file cases before the Arab courts in order to take legal measures against Israelis who participated in crimes against civilians.

On his part, Younis talked about the human rights institutions and the documentation of the what had occurred in the Gaza Strip before the international investigation committee that had been formed by a resolution of the UNCHR headed by Justice Goldstone, whom Israel had tried by every means to impede his task and deny his access the Occupied Palestinian Territories, obliging thus his mission to enter the Gaza Strip through the Egyptian lands. The mission adopted many tools represented in the site investigations of destroyed places and establishments; meetings with the afflicted families, victims and the injured; meetings with legal and specialized institutions; in addition to the public hearing sessions. These measures have given moral support to the war victims, whose case the Mission hadn’t dealt with just in the form of numbers and statistics, but also through delivering their voices of suffering through the media and a report submitted to the UNCHR. Younis added that the Report concluded that Israel had perpetrated war crimes in the Gaza Strip. Delaying the Goldstone Report did cause great harm to the victims and impeded a legal action that seeks justice.

Younis came across certain recommendations of the Report, including that the report be submitted to the International Criminal Court and the UN General Assembly, and that a damages committee be formed so that the state that had caused the damage i.e. Israel pay compensations to the civilians who has been damaged in the recent war; in addition to calling upon the high contracting parties to convene to decide on the Israeli war crimes; thus, all the states become responsible for protecting the civilians.

Younis concluded that the Report 95% incriminates Israel  for committing war crimes against civilians. likewise, the Palestinian party is found innocent of what the Israeli propaganda had trumpeted of using civilians as human shields and the public facilities, like hospitals, for military purposes. Younis called upon the PNA to resubmit the Goldstone report to endorsement in the UNCHR in Geneva during the irregular session the PNA is to request.