| January 9, 2009
SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER TO UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: INVESTIGATE HAMAS' DEPLOYING OF HUMAN SHIELDS
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging that any UN investigation into violations of international humanitarian law during the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip investigate Hamas' deploying of Human Shields.
"Any UN investigation of the current situation in Gaza must first focus on Hamas' use of human shields and the terrorist group's core strategy of systematically deploying rocket launchers and other military hardware in, under and around schools, mosques, homes and shopping areas," urged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish NGO. "These Hamas tactics mock the foundations and substance of all international humanitarian law and are the main cause of unintended civilian casualties," he added.
The Wiesenthal Center's statement came in response UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay call today in Geneva for an independent investigation of human rights violations in Gaza. "As a first step, credible, independent and transparent investigations must be carried out to identify violations and establish responsibilities," she told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The session was convened at the urging of Egypt, on behalf of the Arab Group and the African Group, Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Cuba, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement to address "the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression in the occupied Gaza Strip."
"The UN Human Rights chief was quoted as saying that violations of international humanitarian law may constitute war crimes 'for which individual criminal responsibility may be invoked,' In our view, Hamas leadership should be held accountable for targeting thousands of missiles and rockets against Israeli civilian communities and for systematically placing Gaza's civilian population in harm’s way by launching such attacks from within civilian homes, schools and religious institutions", Cooper concluded.
For more information, contact the Center's Public Relations department, 310.553.9036.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.