On 18 May 2018, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to appoint an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate suspected violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in the wake of the Israeli military’s response to the large-scale civilian protests that began on March 30, 2018, near the Gaza perimeter fence (known as the March of Return) (Resolution S-28/1). Jurists Ms.Sara Hossain (Bangladesh), Ms. Kaari Betty Murungi (Kenya) and Chair Mr. Santiago Canton (Argentina) were appointed as Commissioners.
The Commission issued a call to individuals, groups and organizations, including Yesh Din, to submit information and documents that are relevant to its investigation and to give testimony.
In November 2018, Yesh Din submitted a document based on its work, with information and data that are relevant to the committee’s investigation. The document contains two sections: The first section focuses on the legality of the open-fire regulations followed by Israeli snipers stationed at the Israel-Gaza border during the March of Return protests and the legal scheme used by Israel as a justification, as it was presented in the High Court of Justice; The second section presents Yesh Din’s data on the investigation and prosecution of soldiers suspected of harming Palestinians and their property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the aim of providing a wider context regarding how the military justice system operates and functions.
On December 3, 2018, Yesh Din’s legal advisor, Adv. Michael Sfard, testified before the Commission. Adv. Sfard’s testimony was based on the submission and the information it included.
As any human rights organization, Yesh Din works to end human rights violations using both legal means (which is why we petitioned the High Court of Justice with other organizations to challenge some of the open fire regulations that permitted use of lethal measures against Palestinians who do not pose an imminent threat to others’ lives) and by disseminating the information we have in Israel and around the world.
When it comes to the harm inflicted on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where millions of people live without civil rights under Israeli occupation and/or siege, Yesh Din believes the international community has a unique responsibility and obligation to use the diplomatic tools at its disposal to ensure Israel obeys the law and Palestinians’ rights are respected. Yesh Din hopes that presenting the UN commission of inquiry with all the data in its possession will contribute to reducing human rights abuses in our region.
The information relayed to the Commission in both writing and via oral testimony is based on a High Court petition filed by Yesh Din together with The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gisha and HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual in which the Court was asked to declare that parts of the open-fire regulations used by the military in the Gaza demonstration breach the rules for use of force embodied in international law, as well as on our March 2018 Data Sheet on law enforcement on soldiers suspected of harming Palestinians or their property (Most of the information included in the data sheet relies on official figures provided to Yesh Din by the IDF Spokesperson). The petition and the data sheet have been published and are available on our website, as is the full document delivered to the Commission [the petition is available only in Hebrew].