A group of Jewish lawyers in Australia has urged a United Nations committee not to submit to the “lynch mob mentality towards Israel.”
In its 16-page submission to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is conducting an inquiry into Israel’s offensive in Gaza last January, the group of 20 lawyers -- including the current president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and two past presidents -- say they were driven to act because most of the 47 member states of the council have a “long record of implacable hostility to Israel’s very existence,” which is “in direct contravention” of the U.N. charter.
The inquiry, led by Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa, was ordered to investigate violations of human rights during Israel's military offensive against Hamas in Gaza.
A second round of public hearings ended this week.
The June 30 submission by the Australian lawyers, which also includes Mark Dreyfus, a Jewish member of Parliament in the Labor government, argues that Israel was not responsible for the outbreak of hostilities on Dec. 27, 2008 and that its actions were proportionate to the threat posed by Hamas rockets.
“Israel was lawfully entitled to use whatever force was needed to remove the danger of Hamas rockets and mortars and prevent a recurrence of the attacks on its civilians,” the lawyers wrote.
They added that they were “appalled” that the mandate of the inquiry did not include any consideration of the case of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas in Gaza for more than three years.
“The omission from your mandate and the refusal of the NGO community to demand Red Cross access to Gilad Shalit represent a significant moral failure,” they wrote.
The final report is scheduled to be finalized next month and is expected to be presented to the Human Rights Council in September.