Human rights leaders call for investigation into Gaza conflict

[JURIST] A group of 16 human rights investigators and judges “shocked to the core” by the events during the most recent Gaza conflict [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] have called for a full investigation of possible violations of the Geneva Conventions [link to texts] in an open letter [text] addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile; JURIST news archive] and all members of the UN Security Council. The signatories to the Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] supported letter include Archbishop Desmond Tutu [Nobel profile; JURIST news archive], former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson [official profile; JURIST news archive] and South African Justice Richard Goldstone [official profile]. They said:

As individuals with direct experience of international justice and reconciliation of conflict, we believe there is an important case to be made for an international investigation of gross violations of the laws of war, committed by all parties to the Gaza conflict. Without setting the record straight in a credible and impartial manner, it will be difficult for those communities that have borne the heavy cost of violence to move beyond the terrible aftermath of conflict and help build a better peace.

AI called for an arms embargo on Israel and Hamas following the release of a UN report detailing the use by both parties of foreign-made weapons. Several other investigations into the Gaza conflict are pending. Earlier in March, Iran announced that it would seek INTERPOL arrest warrants [JURIST report] for Israeli war crimes suspects. In January, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an independent investigation [statement text; JURIST report] of possible war crimes and human rights violations in Gaza. International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is also attempting to gain jurisdiction over Israel [JURIST report] to investigate its actions in Gaza for alleged war crimes. Israel has already begun to consider defenses against possible war crimes charges, partly based on accusations [JURIST reports] that it used white phosphorus in a civilian area.