4 May 2009 – The independent team of investigators tasked by the United Nations with examining alleged human rights abuses and violations of international law during the recent conflict in Gaza began a week-long meeting in Geneva today to prepare for a fact-finding mission to the region.
The UN Human Rights Council established the fact-finding mission into Israel’s three-week long military offensive in Gaza, which had the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks on its territory and left at least 1,300 Palestinians dead and some 5,300 injured.
The heavy bombardment and fighting also reduced homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble.
The four-person team, led by the former prosecutor for International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Richard Goldstone of South Africa, will hold discussions this week with representatives of Israel and Palestine, as well as other relevant Member States, civil society, and UN agencies.
The other members of the team include Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science at 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 Colonel (retired from the Irish Armed Forces) Desmond Travers, member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).
This fact-finding mission is separate from the UN Board of Inquiry, led by Ian Martin of the United Kingdom, which is probing incidents involving death and damage at the world body’s premises in Gaza during Israel’s military operation.