Middle East, News

UN commission accuses Israel of possible war crimes in 2014 Gaza War

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A United Nations inquiry into the 2014 Gaza war has accused Israeli and Palestinian factions (including Hamas) of multiple potential violations of international law, including suspected war crimes.

The report, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, calls on Israel to hold wrongdoers responsible, and blames the country’s political and military leadership for the violations.

The report says those responsible for suspected violations of international law at all levels “must be brought to justice.”

Israel faces charges that it potentially breached international law in multiple areas of the conduct of its war.

The charges include major aspects of Israeli tactics, including the targeting of residential homes with precision, the excessive use of artillery force in civilian areas, and the loosening of troops’ rules of engagement. In these areas, the report concludes that the “Israel Defence Forces may not have done everything feasible to avoid or limit civilian casualties.”

The report also questions Israel’s warning of civilians of impending attacks, noting that warnings were either ineffective at the time or that civilians had nowhere to flee to. This last point is especially pertinent considering the fact that at certain times 44 per cent of the entire coastal strip was either under an evacuation order or attack.

The report also accuses Hamas and other Palestinian factions of significant violations, including the fact that “Hamas authorities actively encouraged civilians to ignore the IDF’s warnings and refrain from evacuating.”

On the issue of Israel’s targeting of residential homes with precision weapons, the report examined 15 specific cases in which 216 people were killed. The report could find no reason to explain why in six of these cases residential buildings and civilian objects “were considered to be legitimate military objectives”.

Israel refused to cooperate with the inquiry and has denounced the report as biased.

Resource: Middle East Monitor, June 22, 2015

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