A UN human rights mission investigating possible war crimes in the Gaza Strip has resumed its public hearings with the victims of Israel’s deadly offensive.
The two-day session at the UN’s human rights headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, which follows a first set of hearings in Gaza nearly 10 days ago, aims at giving a chance to those who were not able to travel to Gaza to present their testimony.
In Gaza, Palestinians who were trapped in the three-week onslaught detailed the gory killing of their relatives to the fact-finding mission one after another.
The15-member team interviewed some 70 witnesses and relatives of victims and visited about 40 sites destroyed during the war.
In one of the most heartbreaking cases, a university student described how an Israeli shell struck in the courtyard of his family home in Jabaliya, killing 11 of his relatives and putting him on wheelchair for life.
The survivors of deadly Israeli attacks, who have slipped into grief-stricken madness following the tragic events, told the fact-finding mission that they do not know what they had done to deserve such a plight.
After hearing the evidence, Richard Goldstone — a Jewish South African judge heading the team — expressed his deep sympathy.
"We extend our deep condolences to you and your family for your terrible loss and it makes your coming here all the more painful for you."
The UN body says Genava hearings are to allow "victims from all sides in the conflict as well as experts on its consequences to speak directly to the international community of their experiences" since Tel Aviv did not allow Goldstone and his team in Israel, accusing the inquiry of being pro-Palestinian.
The mission plans to release its final report for the UN Human Rights Council by September 12.
Israel waged war on Gaza on December 27. Three weeks of ensuing airstrikes and a ground incursion left nearly 1,400 Palestinians — at least 1,100 of whom were civilians — dead and thousands injured.
The onslaught cost the Palestinian economy at least $1.6 billion, destroying some 4,000 residential buildings and damaging 16,000 other homes.