Unofficial Israeli delegation testifies at U.N. Gaza inquiry despite government absence

The  United Nations Human Rights Council logo. Credit: UNHRC.

( While the Israeli government is officially boycotting the William Schabas-led United Nations investigation into last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, several Israelis reportedly gave the Jewish state a voice at a hearing for the probe in Geneva on Wednesday.

Gadi Yarkoni—the economic coordinator of Kibbutz Nirim, who lost his legs after being hit by a mortar shell—and Eshkol Regional Council Chairman Haim Yellin gave their testimony as part of a larger unofficial delegation of residents from the western Negev that was assembled by the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.

The Israeli government approved the delegation’s travel to Geneva and their testimony, but made it clear that the witnesses were not considered official Israeli representatives.

The Schabas Commission said that it heard the testimony of "many witnesses both from Israel and from the occupied Palestinian territories," but did not reveal the identity of the witnesses in order to "protect” them.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government continues to express its disapproval with Schabas's investigation. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Tuesday that "the Schabas Commission was born in sin, and its continuing activity is a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies."

"The commission was appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, a body known for its vilification of and hatred for Israel," said Nahshon, Yedioth Achronoth reported. "The commission's mandate is twisted, and its chair is committing a fundamentally unjust sin by already expressing his opinion on Israel, and determined in advance that Israel committed war crimes. If Schabas were a decent person, he would have had to resign a long time ago. Nevertheless, Israel will not prevent any Israeli citizen from having their say before international bodies and institutions.” 

Posted on January 14, 2015 .