UN Gaza report finds evidence of war crimes

A report released June 22 by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict finds that both Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during the 51-day conflict. The death toll among Palestinians is put at 2,251, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 299 were women and 551 children. A further 11,231 Palestinians, including 3,436 children, were injured, of whom 10% suffered permanent disability. Some 18,000 housing units in Gaza were destroyed in whole or part; much of the electricity network and the water and sanitation infrastructure was incapacitated; and 73 medical facilities and many ambulances damaged. Many Palestinians were uprooted from their homes or temporary shelters multiple times; at the height of hostilities, the number of internally displaced persons reached 500,000, or 28% of Gaza's population. The report notes that casualty figures gathered by the United Nations, Israel, Palestinian authorities and non-governmental organizations differ, but states that "the high incidence of loss of human life and injury in Gaza is heartbreaking."

On the Israeli side, the report finds that six civilians and 67 soldiers were killed, with up to 1,600 Israelis injured. According to official Israeli sources, rockets and mortars hit civilian buildings and infrastructure, including schools and houses, causing direct damage to civilian property amounting to almost $25 million. The report "urges all actors to take immediate steps to ensure accountability, including by guaranteeing the rights of all victims to an effective remedy."

  1. Israel to open ‘limited dialogue’ with ICC over Gaza?

    Israel has decided to open a dialogue with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on an investigation into Israel's conduct in the Gaza Strip last summer according to a July 9 report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. An unnamed Israeli official told Haaretz that the ICC has no authority to hear the Palestinian claim because Palestine is not a country and the Israeli judicial system is independent and can handle cases involving alleged war crimes. The purpose of the preliminary examination is to determine if there is a reasonable basis to the claim that crimes have been committed that are within the court’s authority to investigate. If the ICC pursues a full investigation, it could look into Palestinian actions as well. Both Israel and the US are not members of the ICC.

    On Dec. 31, 2014, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute (PDF) and issued a declaration stating the Palestinians recognize the ICC's authority to examine the possibility that war crimes had been committed on Palestinian soil.

    From Jurist, July 10. Used with permission.

  2. Amnesty sees Israeli war crimes in Gaza

    New evidence showing that Israeli forces carried out war crimes in retaliation for the capture of an Israeli soldier during last year's Gaza conflict was released in a joint report by Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture. The evidence suggests that the systematic and apparently deliberate nature of the air and ground attack on Rafah which killed at least 135 civilians, may also amount to crimes against humanity. The online report, ‘Black Friday’: Carnage in Rafah During 2014 Israel/Gaza Conflict, is based on a detailed analysis of vast quantities of multimedia materials

    “There is strong evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes in their relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas of Rafah in order to foil the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They carried out a series of disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate attacks, which they have completely failed to investigate independently,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International. (AI)

  3. UN: Gaza could be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020

    The Gaza Strip, ravaged by wars and nearly a decade of a grueling Israeli blockade, could become uninhabitable for residents within just five years, the United Nations development agency said Sept. 1. "The social, health and security-related ramifications of the high population density and overcrowding are among the factors that may render Gaza unlivable by 2020," the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) wrote in its annual report. Gaza, a tiny enclave of just 362 square kilometers (about 225 square miles) squeezed between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea that is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians, counts one of the highest population densities in the world. "Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current economic trends persist," the report said. (AFP)