Tellingly, in February 2015, pro-Israeli US jurist Mary McGowan Davis replaced the Canadian academic William Schabas whom Israel accused of bias against Israel as he had carried out consultancy work for the Palestine Liberation Organization.
McGowan-Davis was head of the HRC's committee that implemented the findings of the Goldstone fact-finding mission into Israel's brutal military operation in Gaza in 2009. Israel cooperated with her at the time and provided her with substantial documentation regarding Israel's own inquiries into the operation. In her report, she criticized Israel for the extended duration of its inquiries, but found that "Israel devoted substantial resources to investigating more than 400 complaints of improper behavior in Gaza" and that the Israeli investigations were conducted appropriately.
Israel refused to cooperate with the McGowan-Davis commission and barred the investigators from traveling to the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip or to Israel. The Egyptian military regime also colluded with Israel by blocking investigators entering Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
Notwithstanding the switch of its chairperson, the report demonstrated the brutal nature of the war carried out by the Israeli forces. It found that Israel's response to rocket fire from Gaza was disproportionate and could amount to a war crime, warranting a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The timing of the report is significant, as it coincides with the Palestinian Authority's first submission to the ICC, which is conducting its own preliminary inquiry into allegations against Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This includes an examination of Israel's conduct during the 2014 Gaza war. An ICC team will travel to Israel later this month to investigate.
To borrow Jerome Slater, University Research Scholar at New York State University at Buffalo, The report is inappropriately "balanced." He writes on his blog:
To begin with, it is more or less equally critical of Israeli and Hamas actions, without regard to the differences between the vast and horrific extent of civilian destruction caused by Israel and the far lesser civilian deaths and destruction that resulted from the largely ineffective Hamas attacks. But far more importantly, the report does not note the radical moral and political difference between the war crimes committed by Israel in order to maintain its repression of the Palestinians and those committed by Hamas in order to end that repression. In this respect, the report parallels the deficiencies of the Goldstone Report on "Cast Lead," the 2008-09 Israeli attack on Gaza, which harshly criticized the Israeli methods but accepted the Israeli contention that it acted only in "self defense."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. is likely to block any discussion of the report in the U.N. Security Council, as it did with a U.N. report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, when his panel similarly reported on possible war crimes by both sides in the Gaza conflict of 2009.
The stakes are higher this time because the Palestinians formally joined the International Criminal Court in April, and soon after the court's prosecutor began an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza conflict, the WSJ said adding the ICC prosecutor, who hasn't commented on the report, is expected to draw on the U.N.'s findings.
The report called on Israel to join the ICC, and said both Israel and the Palestinians should cooperate with the ICC's preliminary examination and with any subsequent investigation that may be opened.