4 August 2010
Adalah Briefs Independent Experts Committee on Lack of Independent, Impartial Investigations by Israel into Gaza War following the Goldstone Report
(Amman, Jordan) On 29 July 2010, Adalah's General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen and Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-‘Ajou appeared before the Independent Experts Committee appointed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the wake of the UN Fact-Finding Mission report on the Gaza Conflict (“the Goldstone Report”). The committee is tasked with monitoring and assessing any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by Israel and the Palestinians in light of UN General Assembly resolution 64/254, including the independence, effectiveness, genuineness of these investigations and their conformity with international standards. As Israel refused to allow the Independent Expert Group to hold its sessions in Israel, Adalah's representatives appeared before the Committee in Amman, Jordan last week.
The members of the Independent Expert Group are: Professor Christian Tomuschat (Chair), Professor Emeritus at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany; Mr. Param Cumaraswamy, a renowned jurist and human rights expert from Malaysia; and Justice Mary McGowan Davis, who served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and as a federal prosecutor in New York City, USA.
It is Adalah's position that the Israeli military investigations into Operation Cast Lead, which took place between 28 December 2008 and 17 January 2009, are incompatible with international standards of independence, effectiveness, transparency and promptness.
In her presentation to the Committee, Adalah Attorney El-‘Ajou discussed the overall culture of impunity in cases involving the killing or injury of Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) by the Israeli military, as well as the Israeli Attorney General's Office's discriminatory indictment policy towards anti-war protestors. She also addressed the lack of access to effective civil remedies for Palestinians from the OPT within the Israeli legal system. Attorney El-Ajou provided comments on the Israeli investigations and the status of ten complaints filed by Adalah, Al Mezan and Al Haq into civilian killings and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. She also reviewed attempts to severely restrict the work of human rights organizations in Israel following the submission of the Goldstone report.
In his presentation to the Committee, Attorney Hassan Jabareen criticized Israeli Supreme Court jurisprudence after the Government of Israel's disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and its declaration of Gaza as an “enemy entity” in 2007, following the takeover by Hamas. Attorney Jabareen also addressed the implications of Israel's political and legal perception of all Gazans as “enemy aliens” and the Gaza Strip as a “hostile entity,” the state prosecution's decisions concerning investigations and indictments, and the discretion of the Supreme Court in reviewing the decisions of the state prosecution and the military authorities. Attorney Jabareen also analyzed the heavy political restraints placed on the Supreme Court, which prevent it from providing an effective remedy to Palestinian victims, after the court gave its legal approval to all aspects of the Israeli Government's policy of the siege on Gaza, which constitutes collective punishment.