Eight months after the end of the last round of hostilities last winter in Gaza and southern Israel, both the Israeli and Palestinian sides have completely failed to investigate well-documented violations of international law, including war crimes that were committed by their forces.
UN investigators, led by the internationally respected Justice Richard Goldstone, have now concluded their report on the Gaza conflict. Ensuring the implementation of the Goldstone report recommendations is the best hope for justice and accountability and a crucial step towards obtaining reparations for the victims. If those responsible are brought to justice others will be deterred from committing violations of international law in the future.
As you are aware, the independent Fact-Finding Mission, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, has published its findings on the 22-day Gaza conflict in December 2008-January 2009. The carefully argued report, which is consistent with the findings of Amnesty International, concludes that both the Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups committed grave violations of international law including war crimes and, possibly, crimes against humanity. The President of the Human Rights Council, which mandated the UN Mission, has emphasized that it was "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law" during the conflict.
In carrying out that broad mandate, Justice Goldstone has gone to great lengths to ensure that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides were heard, and that alleged violations of international law by both sides are comprehensively addressed in his report. We appreciate that the government is reviewing this major report, and hope that you will welcome the report and its recommendations.
It is of crucial importance that the report's pertinent recommendations to UN bodies to establish accountability for these grave crimes are acted upon. Amnesty International is convinced that ending prolonged impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the Israeli and the Palestinian side is essential: not only for human rights and justice, but also if long term peace and security is to be achieved in the Middle East. As President of the Security Council and as a member of the Human Rights Council, I seek your support to make that happen by ensuring that Justice Goldstone's recommendations are acted upon. Simply put, they offer the best hope for justice and accountability in the Middle East conflict.
I urge you to spare no efforts to ensure that effective action is taken to address accountability and undertake the following:
• As a member of the Human Rights Council, endorse the recommendations of the UN Fact-Finding Mission, to review their implementation regularly and to request the UN Secretary-General to convey the UN report to the UN Security Council as soon as possible;
• As a member of the Security Council, consider the Fact Finding Mission's report as soon as possible, to promptly establish a committee of experts to monitor and assess any domestic proceedings instituted by Israel and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza, and refer the situation to the ICC Prosecutor if credible investigations in conformity with international standards have NOT been carried out by Israel and the Palestinian side within a set time period.
I greatly appreciate your consideration of these concerns.
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