Israel leaves crucial questions unanswered as Goldstone report discussed at UN

The Israeli authorities must disclose details of the internal investigations they have carried out into the conduct of the Israeli armed forces, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The call coincides with UN Human Rights Council discussions that started on Tuesday on the Goldstone report on violations of international law committed in Gaza and southern Israel in late December and January.

Judge Goldstone’s report concludes that Israeli armed forces and Palestinian armed groups carried out serious violations of the laws of war, including war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, and criticizes the failure of both sides to investigate and hold the perpetrators to account.

Amnesty International has written to Israel’s Military Advocate General and Foreign Minister seeking full disclosure regarding investigations into “100 incidents” of alleged violations by Israeli forces.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last week – in a special newsletter issued to coincide with the publication of Judge Goldstone’s findings – that these incidents had been investigated by the Israeli authorities. The incidents are said to have included some that were reported by Amnesty International.

“It was surprising to learn about these investigations, as the Israeli authorities have previously failed to respond to our repeated requests for information about investigations into violations alleged to have been committed by their forces,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“What we need the Israeli authorities to tell us now is which incidents from among the numerous violations alleged have been investigated, and by whom and with what outcome.

“We need to know whether these investigations were in any sense independently conducted or whether they were merely a case of the military investigating itself. In particular, the Israeli authorities need to disclose what steps, if any, their investigators took to obtain evidence from eye-witnesses and victims in Gaza.”

Amnesty International has sent a long list of alleged violations requiring investigation to the Israeli authorities based on the organisation’s research in Gaza.

“But we have never received a response nor any request for further information,” said Malcolm Smart. “This is despite the fact that the Israeli embassy’s newsletter says that some of the ‘100 incidents’ investigated were ones reported by Amnesty International.”