Israel Obstructing Access To Hamas Attack Victims — UN probe

Elishabawa 1 month ago 0 8

Israel is preventing UN investigators from speaking to witnesses and victims of the October 7 Hamas attack, former UN rights chief Navi Pillay, who is chairing a three-person probe, said Tuesday.

The unprecedented Commission of Inquiry was established by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2021 to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Navi Pillay expressed her dismay, stating, “I deplore the fact that people inside Israel who wish to speak to us are being denied that opportunity, because we cannot get access into Israel.”
The investigation briefed diplomats at the UN in Geneva on its work and said that since October 7, it had focused on the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas.

“So far as the government of Israel is concerned, we have faced not merely a lack of cooperation but active obstruction of our efforts to receive evidence from Israeli witnesses and victims to the events that occurred in southern Israel,” said Chris Sidoti, one of the three members of the inquiry.
The Gaza war began with Hamas’s October 7 attack against Israel which resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures.
The militants also took about 250 hostages, of whom Israel estimates 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,843 people in the Palestinian territory, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.Pillay, 82, a South African former High Court judge, said the commission was investigating alleged crimes during the Hamas attack as well as some allegedly committed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank.Sidoti, speaking via video-link, said the investigation had found it difficult to collect evidence from large numbers of witnesses.

He took the opportunity to appeal once more to the Israeli government to cooperate and urged victims and witnesses of the events in southern Israel to contact the commission of inquiry, emphasizing the importance of hearing their experiences.

Sidoti also mentioned that investigators started gathering digital evidence as early as October 7, some of which has since vanished from the internet. He emphasized that if it hadn’t been collected on that day, it would have been lost forever. Pillay, who has a background as a judge on the International Criminal Court and presided over the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, stated that the commission had provided over 5,000 documents to the ICC in The Hague, collected between October and December 2023. The commission is scheduled to present its initial findings to the Human Rights Council in June.

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