7 July 2009 The United Nations Human Rights Council’s fact-finding probe into rights violations committed during the recent Gaza conflict heard from victims, witnesses and experts from southern Israel and the West Bank over two days of public hearings which wrapped up in Geneva today.
“The aim of holding these public hearings…was to show the human side of the suffering, to give a voice to the victims so that they are not lost among statistics,” Justice Richard Goldstone, who leads the four-member mission, told journalists.
Mr. Goldstone said his team had listened to “moving stories” that were “very difficult to hear” concerning the impact of the fighting that took place between 27 December and 18 January, many from victims who had lost members of their families and their livelihoods.
“No written words can by themselves convey human stories the way people can do it in their own voice and words,” he said.
With the conclusion of the hearings in Geneva, as well as those held last week in Gaza City, the mission is moving towards the end of its investigative phase, Mr. Goldstone said.
In addition to their investigations on the ground in Gaza, the team had also travelled to Amman, Jordan, to hear from Israelis and people from the West Bank. Mr. Goldstone said that he would be sending questions soon to authorities from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, asking for input on areas where his team had been unable to gather sufficient information.
The mission’s final report is due to be completed early next month and will be presented in September to the Human Rights Council.
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