Victims of Israel's Gaza invasion give evidence to UN mission

Harrowing testimony by bereaved victims of Israel's military onslaught on Gaza was heard yesterday in the first public session in Gaza City of a UN factfinding mission led by a prominent South African judge.

Israel has refused to co-operate with the enquiry, and Judge Richard Goldstone's team was obliged to enter Gaza through the Egyptian border post in Rafah. It had also hoped to travel to southern Israel to hear testimony from Israeli victims of rocket attacks from Gaza but says it will now do so in Geneva next month. Israeli witnesses may be flown to Geneva to give evidence at UN expense as the team is barred from Israel.

Judge Goldstone, a Jew and an eminent lawyer on the board of Human Rights Watch, is also a former governor of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He said: "The purpose of the public hearings in Gaza and Geneva is to show the faces and broadcast the voices of victims – all of the victims."

He told witnesses at the start of the hearing that the judges knew "it is not easy, and how painful it is" to tell their stories.

Moteeh Silawi, an imam from Jablaya, graphically described leading his blind father, aged 91, across scattered body parts after 17 worshippers were killed by flying shrapnel from an explosion just outside its door during evening prayers on 3 January. Mr Silawi, who lost three brothers and two nephews, including a four year old, said: "I saw bloodshed in the mosque. Can you imagine such a shock? I never thought it would be possible [for] a house of God, a house of worship, to be targeted by missiles."

The team heard evidence from the Deeb family which lost 11 of its members, including five children, in the same series of mortar rounds that killed up to 40 people on 6 January near al-Fakhoura UN School in Jabalya, which was being used as a shelter. They also heard from Wael Samouni who survived an attack that killed 29 of his extended family on 5 January after they had taken shelter in his warehouse in Zeitoun.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back