War crimes ‘likely’ by both sides in Gaza war

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Both Is­rael and Pales­tinian mil­i­tants may have com­mit­ted war crimes dur­ing last year’s Gaza war, a widely an­tic­i­pated United Na­tions re­port said Mon­day, de­cry­ing the “un­prece­dented” dev­as­ta­tion and hu­man suf­fer­ing.

The Com­mis­sion of In­quiry on the 2014 Gaza con­flict an­nounced it had gath­ered “sub­stan­tial in­for­ma­tion” and “cred­i­ble al­le­ga­tions” that both sides had com­mit­ted war crimes dur­ing the con­flict, which killed more than 2,140 Pales­tini­ans, most of them civil­ians, and 73 peo­ple on the Is­raeli side, mostly sol­diers.

“The ex­tent of the dev­as­ta­tion and hu­man suf­fer­ing in Gaza was un­prece­dented and will im­pact gen­er­a­tions to come,” the chair of the com­mis­sion, New York judge Mary McGowan Davis, said in a state­ment.

The re­port de­cried the “huge fire­power” used in Gaza, with Is­rael launch­ing more than 6,000 airstrikes and fir­ing 50,000 ar­tillery shells dur­ing the 51-day op­er­a­tion.

A third of the were chil­dren.

Pales­tinian armed groups mean­while fired 4,881 rock­ets and 1,753 mor­tars to­wards Is­rael, killing six civil­ians and in­jur­ing at least 1,600 oth­ers.

The re­port pointed out that hun­dreds of Pales­tinian civil­ians had been killed in their own homes, es­pe­cially women and chil­dren, pro­vid­ing heart-wrench­ing tes­ti­mony from a mem­ber of the Al Na­j­jar fam­ily who lost 19 of his rel­a­tives in an at­tack in Khan You­nis on July 26.

“We all died that day, even those who sur­vived,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, at least 142 fam­i­lies lost three or more mem­bers in an at­tack on residential build­ings dur­ing last sum­mer’s war, re­sult­ing in 742 deaths.

civil­ians

killed

“The fact that Is­rael did not re­vise its prac­tice of air-strikes, even af­ter their dire ef­fects on civil­ians be­came ap­par­ent, raises ques­tions of whether this was part of a broader pol­icy which was at least tac­itly ap­proved at the high­est level of gov­ern­ment,” the com­mis­sion said in a state­ment.

The com­mis­sion also voiced con­cern that a sense of “im­punity pre­vails across the board for vi­o­la­tions ... al­legedly com­mit­ted by Is­raeli forces, whether it be in the con­text of ac­tive hos­til­i­ties in Gaza or killings, tor­ture and ill­treat­ment in the West Bank.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors urged Is­rael to “break with its re­cent la­mentable track record in hold­ing wrong­do­ers ac­count­able.”

The re­port also de­cried the “in­dis­crim­i­nate” fir­ing of thou­sands of rock­ets and mor­tars at Is­rael, which it said ap­peared to be have been in­tended to “spread terror” among Is­raeli civil­ians.

The re­port had been sched­uled to be pub­lished dur­ing the Hu­man Rights Coun­cil’s main an­nual ses­sion in March, but the in­ves­ti­ga­tors ob­tained a de­lay af­ter the head of the team quit un­der Is­raeli pres­sure.

Is­rael was not sat­is­fied, call­ing for the en­tire in­quiry to be shelved, in­sist­ing the com­mis­sion and the Hu­man Rights Coun­cil which cre­ated it are in­her­ently bi­ased against the Jewish state.

Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu in­sisted that Is­rael “does not com­mit war crimes” af­ter pub­li­ca­tion of a U.N. re­port al­leg­ing both sides may be guilty of such acts in last sum­mer’s Gaza war.

“Is­rael de­fends it­self against a terror or­ga­ni­za­tion which calls for its de­struc­tion and that it­self car­ries out war crimes,” Ne­tanyahu said in a state­ment, re­fer­ring to Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

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