News Release

UN Investigator Expelled by Israel


Reuters reports: “UN human rights chief Navi Pillay accused Israel on Tuesday of ‘unprecedented and deeply regrettable’ treatment of a U.N. investigator it deported after barring him from crossing Israel to get to Palestinian areas. Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, was stopped at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday and denied entry to Israel and held separately from two accompanying U.N. staff.”

Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and currently visiting professor at Chapman Law School. He is the author of dozens of books including The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order after Iraq. He said today: “My detention and denial of entry is part of a broader pattern (‘politics of opaqueness’) designed to obscure the realities of the occupation by keeping qualified observers from getting out (e.g. Raji Sourani) and from getting in (e.g. Archbishop Tutu, journalists).

“Israel has been playing a mind game with respect to me (and others), shifting attention as much as possible to the observer, and away from what is observed; the same is true more generally in relation to the UN; the main point is not ‘balance’ but ‘truth’; it is the rendering what is true in Gaza that gives the appearance of ‘imbalance’; to play this mind game Israel has distorted my views: I have consistently condemned Hamas’ use of rockets against civilian targets; I never compared the crimes against humanity in Gaza to the Nazi atrocities; I never asserted that the holocaust waiting to happen in Gaza was comparable or similar to the Nazi Holocaust, but only that reliance on collective punishment on such a scale had a disturbing resemblance to Nazi practices.

“Finally, it shouldn’t be about me, it should be on the one side about reporting on the massive and persisting collective punishment inflicted on the whole of Gazan society with no genuine link to Israeli security, and on the other side, about respect for the authority and responsibility of the UN in relation to a people undergoing a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Last week, Falk wrote in the piece “Gaza: Silence is not an Option“: “In recent days the desperate plight of the civilian population of Gaza has been acknowledged by such respected international figures as the Secretary General of the United Nations, the President of the General Assembly, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. …

“And still Israel maintains its Gaza siege in its full fury, allowing only barely enough food and fuel to enter to stave off mass famine and disease. Such a policy of collective punishment, initiated by Israel to punish Gazans for political developments within the Gaza strip, constitutes a continuing flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. …

“Protective action must be taken immediately to offset the persisting and wide-ranging violations of the fundamental human right to life, and in view of the emergency situation that is producing a humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding day by day. However difficult politically, it is time to act. At the very least, an urgent effort should be made at the United Nations to implement the agreed norm of a ‘responsibility to protect’ a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a crime against humanity. …

“The recent upsurge of violence occurred after an Israeli incursion that killed several alleged Palestinian militants within Gaza. It is a criminal violation of international law for elements of Hamas or anyone else to fire rockets at Israeli towns regardless of provocation, but such Palestinian behavior does not legalize Israel’s imposition of a collective punishment of a life- and health-threatening character on the people of Gaza, and should not distract the UN or international society from discharging their fundamental moral and legal duty to render protection to the Palestinian people.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167