Debatte zu Kriegsverbrechen
Goldstone-Bericht zum Überfall Israels auf Gaza vor Menschenrechtsrat in Genf
Von Karin Leukefeld *
Beim UN-Menschenrechtsrat in Genf wurde am Dienstag (29. Sept.) ausführlich über den Bericht der Untersuchungskommission
debattiert, die mögliche Kriegsverbrechen während des dreiwöchigen Gaza-Krieges untersucht hatte. Die Kommission war zu dem Ergebnis gekommen, daß sowohl auf israelischer, als auch auf palästinensischer Seite Kriegsverbrechen und Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit begangen worden seien, die aufgeklärt werden müßten.
Richter Richard Goldstone, ehemaliger Chefankläger der UN-Kriegsverbrechertribunale zu Jugoslawien und Ruanda, Christine Chinkin, Professorin für Völkerrecht, Hina Jilani, Anwältin am Obersten Gerichtshof Pakistans, und Oberst Desmond Travers, ehemaliger Offizier der irischen Armee, hatten fünf Monate lang die Auswirkungen des Gaza-Krieges untersucht und auf rund 500 Seiten zusammengefaßt. Israel boykottierte und diffamierte die Arbeit der Kommission von Anfang an, ließ weder Befragungen in Israel zu, noch genehmigte es die Durchreise durch Israel und die besetzten palästinensischen Gebiete nach Gaza. Unmittelbar, nachdem Kommissionsleiter Goldstone Mitte September die Ergebnisse veröffentlicht hatte, begann eine umfassende Diffamierungskampagne der israelischen Regierung, um den Bericht zu entwerten.
In Genf kritisierte der Vertreter Israels, daß der Bericht mit keinem Wort das israelische »Recht auf Selbstverteidigung« erwähnt habe. Sowohl die palästinensischen Zeugen als auch die untersuchten Fälle seien unglaubwürdig, da sie »im voraus ausgewählt« worden seien. Ibrahim Khraishi begrüßte für die palästinensische Seite, daß erstmals die Massaker an den Palästinensern dokumentiert worden seien. Er warnte davor, den Bericht in den Archiven versinken zu lassen, die Kriegsverbrecher dürften nicht unbestraft bleiben.
Sprecher der arabischen Staaten, der Blockfreienbewegung, islamische und afrikanische Staaten begrüßten einhellig den Bericht und forderten eine Bestrafung der Schuldigen in Israel, das »nicht über dem Gesetz« stehen dürfe. Ähnlich äußerten sich Redner aus Brasilien, Kuba, Chile und Mexiko. Der Vertreter der USA hingegen sprach von Einseitigkeit, mit der im UN-Menschenrechtsrat immer wieder Israel kritisiert werde. Viele Schlußfolgerungen des UN-Berichts seien fehlerhaft. Den »demokratischen Staat Israel« dürfe man nicht mit der Hamas gleichsetzen, »die die Einwohner des Gazastreifens terrorisiert«. Gleichwohl sollte Israel die Vorwürfe gegen sein Militär selbst neu überprüfen, so der US-Vertreter. Die Palästinenser sollten das bei den gegen sie gerichteten Vorwürfen ebenfalls tun. Wie mit dem Bericht weiter umgegangen wird, hängt nun von der Haltung des UN-Generalsekretärs Ban Ki-Moon ab. Die USA haben bereits erklärt, einer Behandlung des Berichts im UN-Sicherheitsrat nicht zuzustimmen, Ban Ki-Moon kann ihn dennoch auf die Tagesordnung setzen.
In London ist derweil der Versuch palästinensischer Menschenrechtsgruppen gescheitert, den israelischen Verteidigungsminister Ehud Barak in Großbritannien festnehmen zu lassen, der sich dort zu politischen Gesprächen aufhielt. Sie hatten Barak wegen Kriegsverbrechen im Gaza-Krieg angezeigt, doch die britische Justiz wies die Eingabe unter Verweis auf die Immunität Baraks zurück.
* Aus: junge Welt, 1. Oktober 2009
Statement by Richard Goldstone on behalf of the Members of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict before the Human Rights Council
Human Rights Council 12th Session – 29 September 2009
(Madame High Commissioner)
members of the Council,
ladies and gentlemen
My colleagues and I are here today to present to the Council the final report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
Since the release of the advance version of the report two weeks ago, we have witnessed many attestations of support, but also a barrage of criticism towards our findings as well as public attacks against the Members of the Mission.
We will not address these attacks as we believe that the answers to those who have criticised us are in the findings of the report.
I have, however, to strongly reject one major accusation levelled against the Mission; the one that portrays our efforts as being politically motivated.
Let me repeat before this Council what I have already stated on many occasions:
We accepted this Mission because we believe deeply in the rule of law, humanitarian law, human rights, and the principle that in armed conflict civilians should to the greatest extent possible be protected from harm.
We accepted with the conviction that pursuing justice is essential and that no state or armed group should be above the law. Failing to pursue justice for serious violations during any conflict will have a deeply corrosive effect on international justice.
We accepted out of a deep concern for the hundreds of civilians who needlessly died and those who suffered injury and dislocation of their lives.
We accepted because we believe that the perpetrators of serious violations must be held to account.
We do not claim to be immune from error. After the release of the report we have received a number of comments from people who are sincerely interested in the truth.
We have considered them and where relevant redressed inaccuracies in the final version of the report which is today before you.
We regret that the response to date of the Government of Israel avoids dealing with the substance of the report.
As you all know, the Mission was established in April of this year with the 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 from 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009, whether before during or after”.
Ambassador Uhomoibhi and I announced the establishment of the team at a press conference in April and he brought the mandate of the Mission before this Council in June.
The mandate of the mission was to look at all parties: Israel; the Palestinian Authority; Hamas, which governs Gaza; and armed Palestinian groups.
Soon after its establishment the Mission was faced with one of its major challenges: the decision of the Government of Israel not to cooperate with it and its implicit refusal to give us access to Gaza, the West Bank and to southern Israel.
We decided not to allow this lack of cooperation to prevent the Mission from discharging its mandate.
The Mission is grateful to the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for having facilitated its entry into Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
The Mission also wishes to express its gratitude to many, without whose assistance its task would have been impossible to fulfil.
It would be difficult to name all of them here. We attempt to do so in the acknowledgement section of the report.
We wish, however, to pay our respect to the many civil society organisations, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Israel and elsewhere, which – often under difficult and challenging circumstances – continue to play a crucial role in upholding the universal principles of human rights.
We would respectfully suggest that this Council should recognize and support these organizations.
The first field visit by the Mission Members was conducted in the Gaza Strip from 1-5 June 2009, during which we held meetings, conducted interviews with victims and witnesses and visited the sites of incidents.
The Members of the Mission were in Gaza again from 26 June to 1 July, during which time we continued our investigations and held the Mission’s first round of public hearings. Mission staff maintained a presence in Gaza until early July.
Members of the Mission also travelled to Amman, Jordan, from 1 to 4 July to interview witnesses and meet with people and organizations from Israel and the West Bank.
As part of its investigation process, the Mission held a second set of public hearings. In the two rounds of public hearings, 38 witnesses, victims and experts gave testimony.
The aim of holding the hearings publicly was to give a voice to those who had direct experiences and expertise that related to the mandate of the Mission.
The Mission reviewed reports produced by various organizations and institutions as well as submissions on matters of fact and law relevant to its inquiry.
The Mission consulted with a wide range of interlocutors. They included 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, authorities and other sources of reliable information relevant to the Mission’s mandate. These interlocutors were both within and outside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Mission conducted 188 individual interviews, reviewed over 10 000 pages of documentation and viewed some 1200 photographs, including satellite imagery and video-tapes.
The Mission was supported by an outstanding Secretariat provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). We are grateful to the High Commissioner for providing this support, without which the Mission could not have carried out its mandate.
In making findings of fact, we relied primarily on our own evaluation of the people who spoke to us and from what we saw with our own eyes.
We relied on reports from others where they corroborated the views we had formed.
The exception to that approach was in respect of some facts relating to the West Bank and to Israel in light of the refusal by the Israeli Government to allow us into Israel or to visit the West Bank.
On 15 September the Mission released an advance version of its report.
Members of the Council
Our report is before this Council for its consideration. Allow us, however, to focus the Council’s attention on a number of points.
Let me immediately say that the report reflects the unanimous views of all four of its members.
For practical reasons, the Mission decided for the most part to restrict its fact finding to the period from 16 June 2008 to 31 July 2009. The 16th June 2008 was the date on which a cease fire between Israel and Hamas came into effect.
The Report contains an analysis of 36 specific incidents in Gaza as well as a number on the West Bank and in Israel.
In Chapter XI of the Report, for example we detail a number of specific incidents in which Israeli forces launched direct attacks against civilians with lethal consequences. These were, with only one exception, where the facts establish that there was no military objective or advantage that could justify the attacks.
You will find details of the other 35 incidents in the Report. Some of them relate to the use by the Israel Defense Forces of human shields in violation of an earlier ruling by the Israel Supreme Court outlawing such conduct.
The Mission investigated in some detail the effects on the civilian population in Southern Israel of the sustained rocket and mortar attacks from Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. We detail the suffering of victims and the highly prejudicial effects of these acts on the towns and cities that fall within the range of the rockets and mortars.
The Mission decided that in order to understand the effect of the Israeli military operations on the infrastructure and economy of Gaza, and especially its food supplies, it was necessary to have regard to the effects of the blockade that Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip for some years and has been tightened since Hamas became the controlling authority of Gaza.
The Mission found that the attack on the only remaining flour producing factory, the destruction of a large part of the Gaza egg production, the bulldozing of huge tracts of agricultural land, and the bombing of some two hundred industrial facilities, could not on any basis be justified on military grounds. Those attacks had nothing whatever to do with the firing of rockets and mortars at Israel.
The Mission looked closely and sets out in the Report statements made by Israeli political and military leaders in which they stated in clear terms that they would hit at the “Hamas infrastructure”.
If “infrastructure” were to be understood in that way and become a justifiable military objective, it would completely subvert the whole purpose of IHL built up over the last 100 years and more. It would make civilians and civilian buildings justifiable targets.
These attacks amounted to reprisals and collective punishment and constitute war crimes.
The Government of Israel has a duty to protect its citizens. That in no way justifies a policy of collective punishment of a people under effective occupation, destroying their means to live a dignified life and the trauma caused by the kind of military intervention the Israeli Government called Operation Cast Lead. This contributes to a situation where young people grow up in a culture of hatred and violence, with little hope for change in the future.
Finally, the teaching of hate and dehumanization by each side against the other contributes to the destabilization of the whole region.
Members of the Council
Let me come to some of the recommendations.
The Mission debated long and hard on whether this was a case, like Darfur, where the Security Council should consider referring the situation both in Israel and Gaza to the International Criminal Court.
The Mission is highly critical of the pusillanimous efforts by Israel to investigate alleged violations of international law and the complete failure by the Gaza authorities to do so in respect of the armed groups. That notwithstanding the Mission came to the conclusion that both Israel and the Gaza Authorities have the ability to conduct open and transparent investigations and launch appropriate prosecutions if they decide to do so.
We therefore recommended that the Security Council should require Israel to report to it within six months, on the investigations and prosecutions it is carrying out with regard to the violations referred to in this Report and any others that may come to its attention.
The Mission recommends further that the Security Council should set up a body of independent experts to report to it on the progress of the Israeli investigations and prosecutions. The committee of experts should similarly report on investigations and prosecutions undertaken by the relevant authorities in Gaza with regard to crimes committed by the Palestinian armed groups.
In both cases, if within the six month period there are no good faith investigations conforming to international standards, the Security Council should refer the situation or situations to the ICC Prosecutor.
The Mission was concerned at the use made by the Israeli army of certain munitions and especially white phosphorous, flechettes and certain heavy metals such as tungsten. Their use is not presently banned by international law.
The Mission has recommended that the General Assembly should promote an urgent discussion on the future legality of the use of these munitions.
As appears from the Report the manner in which those munitions were used in Gaza caused unacceptable and unnecessary human suffering as well as environmental damage – not only in Gaza but probably also in southern Israel. The situations arising from the latter should be monitored by the United Nations.
Since the issue of the advance copy of the Report it has been rejected in vehement terms by the Government of Israel. The call for transparent investigations has been rejected. The Government of Israel wishes to restrict its investigations to secret inquiries by the Military investigating itself. That would clearly not satisfy the legitimate expectations of the many victims of the Israeli military operations.
A word about accountability. It has been my experience in many regions of the world, including my own country, South Africa, that peace and reconciliation depend, to a great extent, upon public acknowledgement of what victims suffer. That applies no less in the Middle East. It is a pre-requisite to the beginning of the healing and meaningful peace process.
The truth and accountability are also essential to prevent ascribing collective guilt to a people. Many people in Gaza deplore the firing of thousands of rockets at civilians in Southern Israel and the terror that it has caused to innocent children, women and men. And many in Israel, Jews and Palestinians, deplore the actions by the Israel Defense Force that caused unjustifiable civilian deaths and injuries on a very large scale. They do not approve of the damage to the food and commercial infrastructure of Gaza that will take many years to repair.
Support for many of the recommendations contained in the Report has come from Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.
People of the region should not be demonized. Rather their common humanity should be emphasized.
It is for this reason that the Mission came to the conclusion that it is accountability above all that is called for in the aftermath of the regrettable violence that has caused so much misery for so many.
The Mission calls upon the HRC to accept the Report and adopt its recommendations.
Now is the time for action.
A culture of impunity in the region has existed for too long.
The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point; the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence. Time and again, experience has taught us that overlooking justice only leads to increased conflict and violence.
In conclusion, may I say that the Mission hopes that the substance of this report will be used to strengthen initiatives for peace in the region. The mission is convinced that the international community must confront the realities highlighted in this report and that by doing so find a meaningful basis for the pursuit of peace and security for all the people of the region. Only in that way will the human dignity and security of these people be realised.
By appointing this Fact Finding Mission, the Human Rights Council raised expectations for action and for justice: we call on the Council and on the international community as a whole to take up our recommendations so those expectations will not have been raised in vain.
Geneva, 29 September 2009
Quelle: UN Human Rights Council; www2.ohchr.org
Israels UN-Botschafter in Genf kritisiert Goldstone-Bericht
Israels Botschafter bei den Vereinten Nationen in Genf, Aharon Leshno Yaar, hat in einer Sitzung des UN-Menschenrechtsrats zu dem Bericht der Goldstone-Kommission Stellung genommen, der Israel einseitig wegen seiner Militäroperation im Gaza-Streifen anprangert.
„Dies ist ein Bericht – von 575 Seiten -, in dem das Recht auf Selbstverteidigung nicht erwähnt wird, in dem der Waffenschmuggel nach Gaza durch Hunderte von Tunneln mit keinem Wort erwähnt wird.
Ein Bericht, der auf vorweg gefilterte palästinensische Zeugen basiert, von denen nicht einer über die terroristischen Aktivitäten der Hamas oder den Missbrauch von Zivilisten, Krankenhäusern und Moscheen für terroristische Angriffe befragt worden ist.
Ein Bericht, der auf sorgsam ausgewählten Vorfällen basiert, die für den politischen Effekt handverlesen wurden. Wie Richter Goldstone in einem öffentlichen Schriftwechsel offenbarte: ‚Wir haben uns nicht mit den Problemen der Durchführung von Militäroperationen in bewohnten Gebieten befasst. Wir haben dies bei den von uns untersuchten Vorfällen zu vermeiden beschlossen.’“
„Anders als die Hamas-Terroristen, die sich über jeden zivilen Todesfall freuen, betrachtet Israel jeden zivilen Todesfall als Tragödie, fühlt sich Israel verpflichtet, jedem Vorwurf eines Fehlverhaltens voll nachzugehen. Nicht wegen, sondern trotz des Berichts.
Damit kein Zweifel besteht. Dieser Bericht wird das Leben der Einwohner von Sderot und Gaza-Stadt, von Kiryat Shmona und Jenin in keiner Weise erleichtern. Indem er terroristische Taktiken unterstützt und rechtfertigt, ist er ein Verrat an Israel und den gemäßigten Palästinensern gleichermaßen.“
Quelle: Außenministerium des Staates Israel, 29.09.09
Die Rede des israelischen Botschafters bei den Vereinten Nationen in Genf im Wortlaut (Transcript)
Aharon Leshno Yaar:
Yesterday, on Yom Kippur, Jews all over the world - in Jerusalem, Sderot, here in Geneva - commemorated Yom Kippur, the most holy day of the Jewish calendar. It is the day when, according to Jewish tradition, our fate is determined for the coming year: "Who will live and who will die, who will be raised up and who brought low". Not only for individuals but also for States, this is a decisive time. In the words of our prayers: "Which for war and which for peace, which for famine and which for plenty".
For the States in this Council this is indeed a fateful time. Today's debate is a real test of the integrity and purpose of this body. But more than that, the response to the challenge presented today will have a clear effect on our ability - collectively and individually - to face some of the greatest challenges in the year ahead.
Five years ago, in a remarkable gesture reaching out for peace, Israel removed every one of its soldiers and over 8000 civilians from the Gaza Strip. We withdrew hospitals and kindergartens, synagogues and cemeteries, leaving only the greenhouses we had struggled to build in the hope that these would be the start of a productive Palestinian society. And you, the States of this Council, applauded this unprecedented measure. You told us in no uncertain terms that in the nightmare scenario that terror would take root, you would back us in our inherent right to self-defense.
Five years later, the greenhouses had been ransacked by Hamas thugs, over 8000 rockets and mortars had been fired on schools and kindergartens in Sderot and other Israeli towns, and an unceasing supply of weaponry was being smuggled through tunnels into Gaza from terror-sponsoring states like Iran. Israel's urgent appeals to the international community were to no avail, and our attempts to extend a fragile cease-fire were met with new, increased barrages of missiles from Hamas. And all the while the range of the attacks was increasing. Now Ashkelon and Beer Sheva were within reach. One million Israeli children, women and men had to live every moment of their lives within seconds of a bomb shelter.
The decision to launch a military operation is never an easy one. It is even more challenging when we have to face an enemy that intentionally deploys its forces in densely populated areas, stores its explosives in private homes, and launches rockets from crowded school yards and mosques. These are new and horrendous challenges, and we sought to deal with them responsibly and with humanity. Yet when we dropped millions of leaflets and made tens of thousands of phone calls to warn civilians in advance of operations, we were witness to the callous and deliberate Hamas tactic of sending women and children onto the roofs of terrorist headquarters and weapons factories. In such cases, again and again missions were aborted, letting the Hamas terrorists escape, Israel protected Palestinian civilians that Hamas had put at risk.
In grappling with these dilemmas we seek the guidance of other states. We may not have all the right answers but we struggle to ask the right questions. And in discussions between officials charged with securing the lives of their civilians we hear genuine admiration for our restraint. For example, when Colonel Richard Kemp, Commander of British forces in Afghanistan was asked about Israel's conduct in Gaza, he replied: "I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF in Gaza."
In complex urban warfare, though, civilian casualties are tragically inevitable. There also may have been incidents in which soldiers did not always maintain the standards that we expected of them. The true test of a genuine democracy is how it deals with such cases, and how it examines its own failings. Following the Gaza Operation, Israel has opened over 100 separate investigations into fundamental operational questions, like damage to UN centers and medical facilities, as well as specific allegations of misconduct. Of these investigations 23 have already resulted in criminal proceedings. And this process continues. Any decision regarding whether to open criminal proceedings can be appealed by any Israeli or Palestinian to Israel's Supreme Court - a court which has been cited with respect and admiration throughout the democratic world.
Israel struggles to deal with these tough questions, raised by terrorists acting within civilian centers. Sadly, these are questions which also occupy many other democratic countries and which they and we will have to continue to grapple with.
But these questions, apparently, do not occupy the authors of the shameful Report which has been presented to this Council.
Like many of the States in this Council, we could not support a resolution which only addressed one side of the conflict, and which established four separate mechanisms to condemn Israel and not even one to examine Hamas.
Like many of the distinguished individuals who rejected invitations to head the fact finding mission with its one-sided mandate, we objected to a mission which, in the words of Mary Robinson, was "guided by politics not human rights". While Israel has cooperated with dozens of inquiries and investigations from international organizations and NGO's into the events in Gaza it refused to cooperate with this Mission. And the Report presented today fully justifies that decision.
Even prior to the start of any investigation one member of the Mission went on public record stating that Israel's defense of its civilians against Hamas' attacks was "aggression not self-defense". The document submitted today simply reiterates that prejudice.
This is a report - 575 pages - in which the right of self defense is not mentioned, in which the smuggling of weapons into Gaza through hundreds of tunnels deserves not a word.
A report based on pre-screened Palestinian witnesses, not one of whom was asked about Hamas terrorist activity or the abuse of civilians, hospitals and mosques for terrorist attacks.
A report which is based on carefully selected incidents, cherry picked for political effect. As Justice Goldstone revealed in an open correspondence: "We did not deal with the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas. We avoided having to do so in the incidents we decided to investigate."
A report which gives credibility to every allegation or hearsay against Israel, and none to even direct admissions of guilt by Hamas leaders. Indeed which sometimes accepts the same source as authoritative as against Israel, but somehow unreliable vis-à-vis Hamas.
The authors of this "Fact-finding Report" had little concern with finding facts. The Report was instigated as part of a political campaign, and it represents a political assault directed against Israel and against every state forced to confront terrorist threats. Its recommendations are fully in line with its one-sided agenda and seek to harness the Security Council, the General Assembly the International Criminal Court, the Human Rights Council, and the entire international community in its political campaign. In so doing it seeks to inject these bodies with the same political poison that has so undermined the integrity of this Council.
Unlike the Hamas terrorists who rejoice with every civilian death, Israel regards every civilian casualty as a tragedy, Israel is committed to fully examining every allegation of wrongdoing. Not because of this Report but despite it.
For let there be no doubt. This Report will do nothing to ease the lives of those in Sderot and Gaza City, Kiryat Shemona and Jenin. In providing support and vindication for terrorist tactics, it is a betrayal of Israelis and moderate Paelstinians alike.
In the final analysis, the true test of such a Report can only be whether in future armed conflicts it will have the effect of increasing or decreasing respect for the rule of law by the parties. Regrettably this one-sided report, claiming to represent international law but in fact perverting it to serve a political agenda, can only weaken the standing of international law in future conflicts. This report broadcasts a troubling - and legally unfounded - message to States everywhere confronting terrorist threats, that international law has no effective response to offer them, and so serves to undermine willingness to comply with its provisions. At the same time, it signals an even more troubling message to terrorist groups, wherever they are, that the cynical tactics of seeking to exploit civilian suffering for political ends actually pays dividends.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we want to find a way to live in peace with our neighbors. This is the ultimate question that Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the General Assembly in New York last week:
"The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us ... of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense? [...] Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists? Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace."
Thank you very much.
Quelle: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 Sep 2009; www.mfa.gov.il
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