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UN Gaza probe looking for Israeli testimonies
Schabas Committee investigating war crimes in Gaza conflict calls on Israelis and Palestinians to submit claims by end of January.

Though Israel is officially boycotting the Schabas Commission, which is investigating alleged war crimes during Operation Protective Edge, the committee is not boycotting Israel and is now requesting Israelis come forward if they feel they are victims of the conflict.

 

 

The Schabas Committee called on Israelis and Palestinians who consider themselves victims of the campaign or who have important evidence to forward information and documents.

 

Committee Chairman Wililam Schabas
Committee Chairman Wililam Schabas

 

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The request for testimony further stated that submissions should be completed by January 31 in writing and should include contact details.

 

It also promised to handle the information confidentially, and that it was possible to call on the witness or victim through video conference or face to face talks, if possible.

 

Those seeking to submit a claim were to contact the following e-mail address: coigaza@ohchr.org.

 

The announcement followed the appearances of Gadi Yarkoni, who lost his legs on the final day of the fighting, and Gila Tregerman, whose 4-year-old son was killed, before the committee in Geneva. Haim Yelin, the head of Eshkol Regional Council, also gave emotional testimony in Geneva.

 

Gadi Yarkoni (Photo: Yuval Hen)
Gadi Yarkoni (Photo: Yuval Hen)

 

Canadian professor William Schabas, who teaches international law and is an expert on human rights, chairs the commission. Schabas formerly served as president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and has spoken out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

His fellow committee members are Doudou Diène, a human rights expert from Senegal, and Mary McGowan Davis, a former Justice of the Supreme Court of New York and federal prosecutor.

 

Damage from a rocket in Ashkelon. (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
Damage from a rocket in Ashkelon. (Photo: EPA)

 

Last week committee members visited the Jordanian capital Amman for the second time since it formed and held private talks with witnesses and victims from Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

 

While the Israeli government is boycotting the Schabas Committee and refused to allow its members to enter the country, its members have continued to hope the security situation will allow them to enter Gaza from Egypt.

 

"Victims and many witnesses told us about the traumatic events they went through," said the committee's statement. "The committee emphasizes how grateful it is to those who gave it their trust, both the victims and the witness, as well as the organizers who helped them."

 

Members of Israel's government have argued that despite statements to the contrary, the Schabas Committee is biased.

 

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said earlier this month that "the Schabas Commission was born in sin, and its continuing activity is a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies. The commission was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, a body known for its vilification of and hatred for Israel.

 

"The commission's mandate is twisted, and its chair is committing a fundamentally unjust sin by already expressing his opinion on Israel, and determined in advance that Israel committed war crimes."

 

Schabas told Ynet last August that he was not anti-Israel and that he has visited Israel "many times."

 

 


First published: 01.26.15, 00:05
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