Sunday, February 22, 2009

Human Rights Watch to Israel: End Ban on HR Monitors

Human Rights Watch, Press Release, February 22, 2009 - Israel continues to obstruct independent investigations into allegations of laws of war violations by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas military forces in Gaza by preventing independent human rights monitors from entering Gaza, Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem said today. After submitting applications for permission to enter via the Erez crossing in January 2009, the groups faced continued delays from the IDF unit reviewing the applications. In February, the IDF told Human Rights Watch that it had rejected its application. The Israeli military denied B'Tselem's first request to enter Gaza and has failed to respond to a second.

"Israel's refusal to allow human rights groups access to Gaza raises a strong suspicion that there are things it doesn't want us to see or the world to know about its military operation there," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "If Israel has nothing to hide, why is it refusing to allow us in?"....

See also the new al-Jazeera program, Focus on Gaza, which this week returned to the village of Khoza'a to learn more about possible war crimes that occurred there. Ayman Mohyeldin, al-Jazeera English correspondent in Gaza, reports. Al-Jazeera English TV, February 20, 2009 - A photograph of her recent pilgrimage to Mecca is now all that remains of Rawhiyya al Najar.

The mother was a Gaza native who had lived her entire life through conflict before it was to end on January 13, aged 37, by what was estimated to be a single shot to the head.

Testimony from eyewitnesses, friends, neighbours and human rights experts about the incident tell the story of how a woman carrying a baby and white flag was shot in broad daylight by an Israeli soldier.

Nasser al Najar, Rawhiyya's husband, still has the bloodstained white flag he says his wife was carrying when she was killed.....

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