UN: Gaza conflict report a key step towards justice for victims on both sides

Victims of war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by both sides in the 2014 armed conflict in Gaza could be a step closer to justice, Amnesty International said upon today’s publication of the findings of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry into the war.

“This report marks an important step towards accountability for all the victims and their families. It’s a welcome independent validation of Amnesty International’s own extensive research into last year’s Gaza/Israel conflict, which found that both sides carried out a litany of appalling violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“This report marks an important step towards accountability for all the victims and their families. It’s a welcome independent validation of Amnesty International’s own extensive research into last year’s Gaza/Israel conflict, which found that both sides carried out a litany of appalling violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International

“The evidence is overwhelming and now the members and observer states of the UN Human Rights Council must give the Commission’s findings and recommendations serious consideration, refrain from politicizing the Commission or its report, and ensure that the Council takes all measures necessary to ensure accountability.

“Additionally, the Israeli and Palestinian authorities must co-operate with the International Criminal Court examination, opened in January, and all states must actively support the work of the ICC in relation to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as the Commission recommended.”

The Commission of Inquiry report covers serious violations, including possible war crimes, by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict. The Commission, mandated by the Human Rights Council in July 2014, investigated the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip and Israeli actions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, as well as the activities of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including their attacks on Israel.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on Israel and the Palestinian authorities to co-operate with the Commission and any follow-up mechanism that the Human Rights Council establishes.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have repeatedly claimed that the Commission is biased against Israel. They launched their own report into the 2014 conflict and asserted that Israeli forces acted in accordance with international law. They have also prevented the Commission of Inquiry’s investigators, as well as those of international human rights organizations including Amnesty International, from accessing the Gaza Strip.

In a series of reports issued since the 2014 armed conflict, Amnesty International has documented war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law by both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups, including unlawful killings of civilians and destruction of civilian property, as well as other serious violations and abuses of human rights.

The organization has published reports documenting Israel’s attacks on inhabited civilian homes, landmark buildings, and hospitals and medical workers in the Gaza Strip during the conflict; each report included testimonies and analysis pointing to war crimes.

Palestinian armed groups operating in the Gaza Strip fired thousands of indiscriminate rockets and mortars into Israel; firing munitions which cannot be aimed accurately into civilian areas is a war crime, and statements by Hamas and Palestinian armed groups also indicate that some attacks were intended to kill or injure civilians. Amnesty International also documented and condemned the extrajudicial executions of at least 23 alleged “collaborators” in Gaza by Hamas forces during the conflict, and the arbitrary arrest and torture of dozens of others.

Read Amnesty International’s previous Q&A on the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry.