Human Rights Council
Agenda item 7
Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories
The present document contains the detailed finding of the independent commission of inquiry established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-21/1. The commission’s principal findings and recommendations are provided in document A/HRC/29/52.
1. On 23 July 2014, the Human Rights Council, in its resolution S-21/1, decided to “urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after, to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways and means to protect civilians against any further assaults, and to report to the Council at its twenty-eighth session.” Pursuant to resolution S-21/1, the President of the Council appointed three experts to the commission: William Schabas (Chair), Mary McGowan Davis and Doudou Diène.
2. The members of the commission formally began their work on 16 September 2014.
Following the resignation of Professor Schabas on 2 February 2015, the President of the Council designated Justice Davis as the Chair. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) established a secretariat to support the commission. Notwithstanding the urgency expressed by the Council to dispatch the commission, the secretariat was not fully constituted until the end of November 2014.
3. The commission repeatedly requested Israel to cooperate, including by granting it access to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Regrettably, Israel did not respond to these requests. Subsequently, the commission learned from a press release that no such cooperation would be forthcoming. The Government of Egypt, when requested to facilitate entry into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, responded that it was not possible owing to the prevailing security situation. The commission wishes to thank the Government of Jordan for facilitating its two visits to Amman.
4. The commission received full cooperation from the State of Palestine, including the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva. It met with representatives of Palestinian ministries in Amman, who provided a range of documents. The commission also spoke to members of the authorities in Gaza, who submitted several written reports to the commission.
5. The commission addressed to the Government of Israel and the Government of the State of Palestine a list of questions relating to specific incidents and legal and policy issues. A comparable list of questions was also sent to Hamas. Only the State of Palestine responded to the requests.