Memorandum to the UN fact-finding mission
into the recent
conflict in Gaza
June 21, 2009
A missed opportunity to investigate Gilad Shalit’s incarceration
Incitement to genocide
Sadly, none of the reports of your
Gaza visit made mention of two very blatant human rights violations that should concern all persons sensitive to Human Rights.
I refer to the continuing incarceration of Gilad Shalit and the insidious incitement to genocide that continues on a daily
basis in Gaza, as dealt with more fully in Appendices A and B hereto.
International media have reported that Judge Goldstone had expressed admiration for the
Palestinians' attitudes toward the probe and that their cooperation would be noted in your report. However, the Palestinian
Ma’an news agency was more informative than most other media. On June 2 it reported
that while your mandate calls for investigating violations by all parties, including Palestinian fighters and the Hamas-led
government, it was unclear if authorities in Gaza would cooperate with that aspect of the inquiry. http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=38258
On June 9, Ma’an reported
that you were experiencing difficulties in collecting information because Hamas-allied security forces accompanied your 15-member
team, potentially inhibiting the ability of witnesses to speak freely, a factor that obviously needs to be taken into account
in assessing reports by witnesses who stated, for example, that no Hamas fighters or weapons were present in mosques, schools,
private houses or hospitals.
Nor did the mission enjoy the
complete freedom that had been hoped for to conduct an all-encompassing investigation. In the same issue Ma’an reported that your team refused to release details of its schedule and that reporters and
photographers were not permitted to travel with the group (http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=38420)
I sincerely hope that that you will find this memorandum to be useful and that the information
contained in it will be reflected in your final report?
Appendix A. The Continuing Incarceration of Gilad
Judge Goldstone has advised that the HRC mandate
has been widened from its original narrow wording, to include investigation of all violations that might have been committed
at any time in the context of the military operations conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January
2009, whether before, during or after.
Clearly, since the continued holding of Gilad
Shalit before, during and after the above period violates both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian
Law, it falls squarely under your mandate.
As the Human Rights Council was created by the
UN General Assembly with the main purpose of addressing human rights everywhere, it is very disappointing that your mission
missed the opportunity, during your Gaza visit, to address the violations of the rights of Gilad Shalit and his family. It
was hoped by many that you would at least try to obtain some tangible evidence of Shalit’s condition and whether or
not he is in fact alive.
With the backing of Judge Goldstone’s international
prestige and that of the UN in your access to the top Hamas leaders whom you praised for their cooperation, there has never
been a better opportunity to obtain even a small encouraging message for Gilad’s parents.
While the “Cast Lead” operation will
no doubt require a great deal of forensic investigation before arriving at a conclusion, the injustice of keeping this kidnapped
soldier incommunicado for 1,000 days is a blatant, deliberately cruel crime against humanity that cries out for the immediate
attention of your mission that was appointed by none other than the UN Human Rights Council.
While there may be some technical quibble about
Shalit’s status as a prisoner of war, the Third Geneva Convention provides for humane treatment and the right to unfettered
access to the Red Cross, as well as the right to send and receive monthly letters and cards. All of these rights are being
denied to Shalit. By its own admission, Hamas controls Shalit’s fate and as such, its leaders are undeniably guilty
of this appalling war crime. One cannot help but wonder what inhibited even a mention of the name Gilad Shalit by any member
of your Human Rights mission while you conversed amiably with the very persons who are holding him captive.
By way of contrast, Palestinian prisoners in
Israel enjoy visitation rights, including conjugal visits, access to telephones, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts,
lawyers' visits and even academic studies at state expense.
Denial of POW rights to Shalit is not
the only crime. The continued mental torture of Shalit’s family compounds the crime immeasurably. What greater torture
can there be than tormenting parents with 24/7 anxiety for three years about whether their son is dead, and if alive in what
Gilad’s family continue to live this horrendous
nightmare, not knowing if Gilad is dead or alive and fearing that he is possibly being tortured. To compound the heinous crime, Hamas recently held a public
rally during which a boy dressed in IDF uniform masqueraded as Gilad Shalit reading a letter in Hebrew, telling the jeering
crowd, how he misses his parents.
No human being with a conscience can refuse to
protest this diabolical cruelty.
As mental torture is included in the UN ban on
torture, your mission cannot ignore the deliberate torture of Gilad’s family by Hamas. Clearly acts of torture are violations
of both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. Amnesty International describes every act of torture
as a crime under international law.
Article 1 of the UN “Convention Against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” defines torture as any act by which severe pain
or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person….” and a study by scientists
published on March 6, 2007 in “News in Science” describes mental torture as bad as physical.
It could be that you did raise the subject of
Shalit while in Gaza and that the media failed to report it. If that is the case, you are asked to please make a public statement
on the matter as soon as possible.
Appendix B. Incitement to genocide
Possibly because of lack of knowledge of Arabic and the fact that Hamas forces accompanied
your 15-member team in Gaza, your mission was evidently not exposed to the fundamental prime mover in the Arab Israel conflict. I refer to the prevalent insidious incitement to hate and genocide, propagated
on official PA State TV as well as in mosques and schools.
The frequently quoted concept of a cycle of physical
violence whereunder one side attacks, the other retaliates and so on is fallacious in that it omits the essential component
of the power of words. Hitler’s awful crimes against humanity all started with the kind of abuse of words echoed today
in schools, mosques and on State TV in Gaza.
While incitement is regarded by some as the inchoate
crime of preparing for another crime, others regard the crime as completed even if the person incited fails to commit the
act to which he or she has been incited. Either way, Article 3 of the Convention
on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, states clearly that direct and public incitement to commit genocide
are punishable acts.
to kill Jews starts in the schools. Even new schoolbooks written in 2001 by the PA Education Ministry, include passages from
the Koran, teaching that Jews should long for death, from Allah himself.
In these circumstances it would be surprising
if the present generation brought up on a diet of hate-the-Jew and the infidel were prepared to live peacefully with a Jewish
state as their neighbor. Without doubt, the root cause of the 8,000 rockets fired at Sderot and the subsequent Cast Lead operation
lies in this incitement.
The following excerpts from an article by Itamar
Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, on the History News Network, are evidence of the blatant unambiguous incitement
to genocide readily verifiable by your mission. (http://hnn.us/articles/743.html)
A member of the Palestinian Council of Religious
Edicts, spelled it out on PA TV: "Jews are Jews. [One] must slaughter them and
kill them, as per the word of Allah… Do not have mercy in your hearts for Jews anywhere, in any country. Fight them
wherever you are. Anywhere you meet them - kill them. Kill the Jews… Do not have mercy on the Jews. Kill them everywhere."
Just last month a PA religious leader explained
the inherently evil nature of the Jew, since the days of Muhammad: " He [Muhammad] battled them and expelled them from Arabia,
saying: 'There shall not be two religions in Arabia.' .. Say to the Jews:… 'Expect your graveyard. Expect the final
The obligation to kill Jews is presented not
only as a religious precept, but has been cited repeatedly as a historical necessity.. a senior religious leader, explained:
"The battle with the Jews will continue, because the Prophet has decreed it... 'The
Day of Resurrection will not come until the Muslims make war against the Jews and kill them, and until the Jew hides behind
a rock and tree, and the rock and tree says: 'Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, a Jew is behind me, come and kill him!'…"
In Judge Goldstone’s recent in-depth interview
on Al Jazeera he was asked what brings a country to commit horrific acts like genocide. He replied that dehumanization of
the other is the primary factor.
Since dehumanization of infidels, especially
Jews, is a regular feature of Palestinian incitement, this fundamental contributor to the
Arab Israel conflict in general and to the Cast Lead operation in particular, cannot be ignored if your mission is to arrive
at a meaningful conclusion that can contribute towards a peaceful solution.
It is perfectly obvious that the Palestinian
Authority leadership as well as Hamas are promoting genocide of the Jewish People, with haunting echoes of Nazi ideology.
Jews are repeatedly dehumanized in words and
cartoons as animals - monkeys, pigs, donkeys, rats, worms, scorpions, spiders and octopuses.
A political cartoon in the official Palestinian
daily defined the Jew as "the disease of the century."
Because the incitement is in Arabic, I recommend
that your mission avail itself of the valuable services provided by two organizations that translate Arabic programs to English.