US Judge Mary McGowan Davis, head of the UN Human Rights Council investigation into the last Israeli aggression in Gaza, said that the most important message that the committee wanted to send to Israel in its report published two days ago was the obligation to end its use of military force.
Davis said in an interview with the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz today that the Israeli operation had caused unprecedented destruction in Gaza and had resulted in the deaths of over 1500 innocent people (Israeli records state that approximately 1000 of the dead were Hamas fighters).
She also referred to the heavy shelling of residential areas, saying that “we wanted to make a strong stand that the whole use of explosive weapons in densely populated neighborhoods is problematic and that the policy needs to change”.
Israel decided not to cooperate in the compilation of the report and instead boycotted the committee, barring its members from entering the Gaza Strip and the Israeli communities surrounding Gaza, reported Forward.
Davis admitted that the committee had therefore worked under limited conditions and had not always been able to gain first-hand knowledge of the destruction and of both Israeli and Palestinian victims in the conflict. It had however, received evidence from ‘many people who were there’ and Davis said that she believed the report gives a ‘good picture to the world on what went on last summer in Gaza’.
According to Forward, Davis went on to criticize, albeit diplomatically, the Israeli internal investigation of the killing of 4 boys by Israeli naval forces on a beach in Gaza July 16 2014. She stated that the committee knew of ‘a lot of witnesses there who were never interviewed [by the Israeli investigation]’, and called the decision to close the file ‘troubling’.
She said that Palestinians harmed should be able to give their version of events but that she was ‘not sure the citizens of Gaza feel this was done, and we understand where they are coming from because it is hard to know how effective the investigations were’.
In a move that President of the Israeli leftist opposition Meretz party, MP Zahava Gal-on, called a ‘despicable trick designed to intimidate and silence the voices that don’t align with the government’s position’, the Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel presented plans to halt funding for Israeli NGOs whose names appeared in the UN report on Gaza.
Ariel concluded his plan by saying: “We will not fund organizations like these no matter what legal acrobatics were done until now to make this bug kosher”.