UN Report on Atrocities and War Crimes during Israel's Attack on Gaza

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“Balance” in UN Gaza report can’t hide massive Israeli war crimes
by Ali Abu Nimah
Electric Intifada
June 23, 2015

There can be no surprise that the UN Human Rights Council’s independent investigation of Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer found evidence of massive and systematic war crimes.

Its report, published Monday, June 21, 2015 in Geneva, says investigators were “able to gather substantial information pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups.”

“The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” the chair of the investigation commission, Justice Mary McGowan Davis told media, adding that “there is also ongoing fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat.”

Despite the “balanced” language that is now the habitual refuge of international officials hoping to avoid false accusations of anti-Israel bias, the evidence shows that the scale and impact of Israeli violence dwarfs anything allegedly done by Palestinians.

Israel systematically targeted Palestinian residential buildings and infrastructure without any apparent military justification. The horror of what Israel did, detailed in the 183-page report, cannot be adequately summarized here.

In total, 2,251 Palestinians were killed, including 1,462 Palestinian civilians, among them 551 children, the report states. More than 11,000 Palestinians, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children, were injured with almost 10 percent suffering permanent disabilities.

Six civilians died in Israel and more than 60 Israeli soldiers died in fighting with the Palestinian resistance.

But a key finding is that the mass destruction and killing inflicted by Israel, often amounting to war crimes, “may have constituted military tactics reflective of a broader policy, approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest levels of the Government of Israel.”

This finding provides an important basis for Palestinians to pursue Israeli leaders, not just their uniformed subordinates, and bring them to justice in international courts.

The report also confirms that Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza as far as international law is concerned, because it continues to exercise “effective control” over the territory. Israel is therefore subject to all the legal obligations of an occupying power to protect civilians there.

It also found a massive escalation of Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem in the weeks preceding and during the Gaza assault that was “overshadowed by the tragic events in Gaza.”
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