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PCHR Testifies before UN Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Strip


Ref: 31/2009

Date: 07 July 2009




PCHR Testifies before UN Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Strip


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) testified again before the United Nations Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Strip, which held meetings in Jordan between 1-3 of July 2009.


On Thursday, 02 July 2009, Mr. Sameeh Mohsen, coordinator of PCHR’s West Bank office, presented a 75-minute testimony on behalf of PCHR before the Fact-Finding Mission.  At the beginning of the hearing, Justice Richard Goldstone, head of the mission, welcomed PCHR’s testimony and stated that he had met with a number of PCHR’s staff members during the Mission’s visit to the Gaza Strip. He expressed his appreciation for PCHR’s efforts in gathering information, affidavits and documents on the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip.  He also thanked PCHR for the documents and information it had provided to the Mission.


Mr. Mohsen began his testimony by welcoming the establishment of the Mission and conveying apologies from PCHR’s director who was unable to attend the session as he was unable to travel out of the Gaza Strip.  Mr. Mohsen asserted that the Palestinian people are expecting the Mission to disclose the reality of what happened in the Gaza Strip in the period 27 December 2008-18 January 2009. He then highlighted the outcome of the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, including PCHR’s statistics with regard to deaths and their classification, destruction of civilian facilities, and the impact of the offensive and the continued closures imposed on the Gaza Strip on all aspects of civilian Palestinian life.


Members of the Mission asked a number of questions about the standards PCHR used when not categorizing police officers as combatants; continued attacks against fishermen, interrogation of patients who travel through Erez crossing; the environmental impacts of the Israeli offensive; the kinds of food allowed into the Gaza Strip by Israel; protests by Palestinians in the West Bank against the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip and the responses of Israeli forces, and the Palestinian National Authority; and concerns of Palestinians living in the West Bank of a possible similar offensive against the territory.


It is worth noting that during its visit to Gaza, PCHR had provided the Mission with detailed testimonies and legal documents.  PCHR’s lawyers briefed members of the Mission on all serious human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli forces during and after the offensive on the Gaza Strip during a hearing session held at UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza.  Members of the Mission also visited PCHR’s offices and met with PCHR’s director, Mr. Raji Sourani, and other PCHR staff. Mr. Sourani had been intending to testify before the Mission in Amman, but he was unable to travel out of the Gaza Strip despite repeated attempts.


The United Nations Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Strip is headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, chief prosecutor for the war crimes tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.  The Mission includes also Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Ms. Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders; and Colonel Desmond Travers, a former officer in the Irish Armed Forces and member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations.

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