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Video Memorandum from Maurice Ostroff to the UN Human Rights Council Fact-finding Mission

28 June 2009

 

Judge Goldstone's and Mr. Ostroff's replies to the above video memorandum:

 

Re Maurice Ostroff's  video memorandum  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx-CW3UKoIg
 
At 06-07-09 20:13, you wrote:
Dear Mr. Ostroiff,
I have now watched this well done submission. We heard evidence today from Noam Bedein and other Israeli witnesses who briefed us on many of the issues raised by you. What I cannot understand and is most frustrating is that some in the Israeli press is already calling the Mission biased even without waiting for its report.
Best wishes,
Richard Goldstone
 
 
My response
Dear Judge Goldstone,
Thank you for your email. I can well understand your frustration at the evident pre-judgment of the mission as biased by some in the Israel media.
 
It is with some reticence that I offer the following possible explanations for the negative attitude to which you refer.  As you have stated, the original HRC resolution was so blatantly biased that you refused to undertake the task until you were assured that the mandate had been widened. Yet the original resolution has not been amended and the Human Rights Council continues to remain focused on Israel while ignoring disastrous situations around the world. This perception of the HRCs bias is illustrated for example by the fact that in September 2008 it praised Sudan while censuring Israel for the 20th time in two years. In June 2006, the Council resolved to place Israel's alleged violations of human rights as a permanent item on the Council's agenda at a time when major humanitarian crises were taking place in many countries, let alone Darfur.
 
You have been reported as having said that Hamas and Palestinians' attitudes toward the probe had been admirable and their cooperation would be noted in your report, including that of the Hamas-run government. Yet many find this inconsistent with the report that your team was inhibited in speaking freely to witnesses because of the presence of Hamas security forces. (Maan June 9, 2009). Consequently many believe that while you will be heavily influenced by reports about casualties, witnesses are afraid to verify claims that the reason civilians were harmed was because it was often impossible to distinguish between them and Hamas fighters and because fighters and rocket launchers used mosques, schools, private houses and hospitals.
 
The perception of bias may also lie partially in the failure of your team, while you had the opportunity to do so during your amicable discussions with Hamas leaders in Gaza, to raise the questions of Gilad Shalit, incitement to genocide and the unambiguous intention of Hamas to destroy Israel as declared openly in its covenant.
 
Incidentally the web site of the UN office in Geneva reported that you noted that there were several people who would have liked to speak at the public hearings but who had declined because they felt there was too high a risk in doing so. In this report the cause of their fear was not stated.
 
However. the Armenian News Service reported that you said the potential witnesses backtracked because of fear of security risks by the Israeli occupation against them. If in fact, Israel has made threats against witnesses, this would be a very serious matter and I would appreciate it if you would kindly clarify whether this report is  accurate. ( http://groong.usc.edu/world/me/msg11502.html ).
 
Having said the above, I confirm my confidence in your personal integrity, my understanding of the extremely onerous task you have undertaken and my hope that your report will not be a mere call for retribution, but will make a positive contribution to a peaceful solution that will alleviate the suffering on both sides.
 
Sincerely
Maurice Ostroff

 


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