JUSTICE - No. 71

50 No. 71 JUSTICE ntroduction Following the October 7, 2023 massacre and mass abduction of Israeli residents by Hamas and other organized armed groups, the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC), one of nine clinics offered through the Clinical Legal Education Center (CLEC) within the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, offered its services to the Hostages and Missing Families’ Forum1 in appealing to various UN human rights bodies for their assistance in rescuing the hostages. Here, we describe the mission of the IHRC, the IHRC’s previous actions relating to hostages in Gaza, the measures that we took on behalf of both the Hostages and Missing Families’ Forum and individual families, and the legal arguments that grounded these actions. I. The International Human Rights Clinic The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) promotes the implementation of international human rights law within Israel’s legal system. It provides legal assistance to both individuals and organizations and seeks to make a broad impact on the status and rights of the most vulnerable people in Israel today through policy change in relevant subjects. The IHRC facilitates dialogue and exchange among Israeli human rights organizations, UN treaty bodies, and Israeli policy makers. On the domestic level, it focuses on legal representation of diverse groups suffering from marginalization, such as Palestinians from East Jerusalem, asylum seekers, and other stateless persons. The IHRC issues position papers and drafts bills that promote the civil, political, cultural, and social rights of members of such groups. On the international level, the IHRC represents individuals and organizations in appeals to international humanitarian bodies. Through its work to help individuals and groups realize their human rights, the IHRC aims to equip law students with social awareness, knowledge of international human rights, and an understanding of the relationship and gaps between “law on the books” and “law in action.” II. The IHRC’s Previous Work Regarding Persons Held in Gaza Since 2018, the IHRC has been representing the families of four individuals: Avera Mangisto, Hisham al-Sayed, Oron Shaul, and Hadar Goldin. It is believed that Hamas has held Mangisto and al-Sayed2 in Gaza since 2014 and 2015, respectively, without any contact with the outside world. Additionally, it is believed that Hamas holds the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in 2014. In January 2019, the IHRC submitted communications to both Working Groups on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance and on Arbitrary Detention regarding all four individuals. Later that year it submitted a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) regarding al-Sayed and Mangisto, both of whom are diagnosed with mental disabilities. It also submitted a communication in their regard to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In June 2022, the IHRC submitted a shadow report to the Committee against Torture (CAT) regarding The International Human Rights Clinic and the October War – Advocacy in Times of Emergency Michal Goren, Shiran Reichenberg and Yaël Ronen I 1. The Hostage and Missing Families’ Forum was formed by the families of the hostages less than 24 hours after the October 7 attack. The volunteer-based Forum offers families holistic medical and emotional support as well as professional assistance, and advances the ongoing efforts locally, regionally and globally, to bring the hostages and the missing back home. 2. Views adopted by the Committee under article 5 of the Optional Protocol, concerning Communications Nos. 67/2019 and 68/2019, March 23, 2023, UN Doc CRPD/ C/28/D/68/2019.