GFFM/O-59/090619FM Geneva, 19 June 2009
Dear Mr. Bedein,
I write on behalf of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. As you may know, the Mission has been requested to conduct an independent investigation of alleged violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law that may have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, whether before during or after. The Mission is investigating alleged violations occurring after the start of the 6 month ceasefire, that is, from 18 June 2008 to the end of the Mission’s mandate in early August 2009. I have attached a paper on the work of the mission as well as our Call for Submissions made on 5 June 2009.
As part of our work the Mission would like to hear from people in Israel who have been affected by rocket and mortar fire from Gaza or groups representing those affected. Additionally we are seeking to hear from those who are dealing with the psycho-social effects of the rocket and mortar fire on adults and children living in southern Israel.
As you may be aware, the Government of Israel is not currently cooperating with the Mission. Consequently, we are not able to enter Israel to conduct interviews and collect in person information on actions by Palestinian armed groups directly and indirectly affecting the Israeli community.
We understand that your organisation works with those communities affected by the rocket and mortar fire and may be uniquely placed to speak both about the direct consequences of the rocket and mortar launches themselves and the wider psycho-social and economic effects on the communities in southern Israel and we hope you may be able to assist the Mission in its work. We would like to arrange a time to contact you with a view to organising a telephone interview or a video conference
- Noam Bedein
- Sderot Media Center
- Histadrut 1
- Sderot, Israel 80100
I would be grateful if you could contact Ms. Sareta Ashraph, researcher in the Fact Finding Mission Secretariat, on +41-22-928 9255 or via email on ‘[email protected]’. Ms. Ashraph will be available to answer any questions you may have.
- Francesca Marotta
- Head of the Secretariat
- United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
PUBLIC ADVANCE NOTICE
This note seeks to inform the public concerning the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. It describes the Mission’s composition, mandate and methods of work and provides practical information on how to contact the Mission. It announces its first field visit.
ESTABLISHMENT, MANDATE AND FOCUS
On 3 April 2009, following resolution S-9/1 of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), adopted on 12 January 2009 at the conclusion of the 9th Special Session of the Council, the President of the Human Rights Council established an International Independent Fact Finding Mission with a mandate to “investigate all violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”
In accordance with its mandate, the Mission will focus on relevant violations by all parties in the entire occupied Palestinian territory, including Gaza and the West Bank, and Israel.
The Mission officially started its work on 4 May 2009 and is required to submit its report within three months.
The Mission is headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, former member of the South African Constitutional Court and former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The three other mission members are Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, who was a member of the High Level Fact Finding Mission to Beit Hanoun (2008); Ms. Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders, who was a member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (2004); 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 (NCI). As requested by the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has appointed a Secretariat to support and facilitate the work and proceedings of the Fact-Finding Mission.
The Mission intends to visit affected areas of the occupied Palestinian territory, including Gaza and the West Bank, and Southern Israel, and has requested the cooperation of the Government of Israel in this regard. The Mission will conduct its first visit to Gazabetween 1 and 5 June 2009. Pending reply from the Government of Israel, the Mission is relying on the cooperation of the Government of Egypt to facilitate entrance to Gaza through Rafah. Subsequent field visits will be announced in due time.
METHODS OF WORK
The Mission’s investigation will be based on an independent and impartial analysis of compliance of the parties with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law in the context of the recent conflict in Gaza, and on international investigative standards developed by the United Nations.
The Mission intends to consult with a wide range of interlocutors who will include victims and witnesses, Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs, United Nations and other international organizations, community organizations, human rights defenders, medical and other professionals, legal and military experts, and other sources of reliable information relevant to its mandate, within and outside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The Mission will also seek consultations with relevant authorities.
In the course of its work, the Mission will review reports produced by various organizations and institutions, and will be requesting submissions on matters of fact and law relevant to its inquiry. A separate notice will be issued to call for submissions. The Mission is also planning to hold public hearings on particular issues of concern related to its mandate.
CONTACTING THE MISSION
Anyone wishing to make contact with the Mission on any matter relevant to its mandate should do so through the Secretariat, either by email to [email protected] or by regular mail at the following address in Geneva:
- United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
- c/o UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Avenue G. Motta 48
- UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
- Anyone wishing to make contact with the Mission during its visit to Gaza may contact the Mission by telephone at:
- (+970) 0597 444 158 (+970) 0597 444 159
PROTECTION OF INFORMATION
Measures are being taken to ensure the careful and safe handling, communication and preservation of the Mission’s records and files. The information collected by the Mission is, and will remain, the property of the United Nations. Wherever necessary, the Mission will take precautionary measures necessary to ensure the safety or protection of victims, witnesses, sources and any other persons cooperating with the Mission.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Pursuant to Resolution S-9/1 of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), adopted on 12 January 2009 at the conclusion of the 9th Special Session of the Council, the President of the Human Rights Council established, on 3 April 2009, an International Independent Fact Finding Mission mandated “to investigate all violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 whether before during or after”.
The President of the Council, Ambassador Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, appointed the following as members of the Fact Finding Mission: Justice Richard J. Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and current Spinoza Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanity and Social Sciences; Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London; Ms. 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).
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict is pleased to invite all interested persons and organizations to submit relevant information and documentation that will assist in the implementation of the Mission’s mandate.
Submissions should focus on events and conduct that occurred in the context of the armed conflict that took place between 27 December 2008 and 19 January 2009. The Mission considers that, for the purposes of its mandate, events sinceJune 2008 are particularly relevant to the conflict.
The Mission would be grateful if submissions were presented as concisely as possible.
Due to time constraints the Mission would be grateful to receive submissions in English, but will also accept submissions in Arabic or Hebrew.
Unless otherwise indicated by the author, the Mission will assume that submissions can be made public. Please indicate whether you wish parts or whole submissions to be treated as confidential.
Any information submitted to the Mission in writing should be sent to the Secretariat of the Fact-Finding Mission c/o OHCHR, G. Motta 48, Geneva, or at the email: [email protected] , no later than 30 June 2009.
8 June 2009