Israel Rejects UN Accusations Of War Crimes After Gaza Probe

Between March 30 and December 21, 2018, investigations took place by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry into Israel’s treatment of Palestinians during protests at the Gaza strip. The UN commission conducted 325 interviews with victims, witnesses, and other courses; they investigated more than 8000 documents, studied drone footage and other material. However, Israel did not cooperate with the probe or provide access to Gaza. Israel has recently rejected evidence from the investigation by the United Nations probe into the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. The 2018 investigation exposed that Israel committed crimes against humanity towards the Palestinians peacefully protesting at the border. This included Israeli snipers “intentionally” shooting civilians; including children, journalists and the disabled. According to Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel rejected the report “outright.” Hamas, who controls Gaza called for Israel to be held accountable for their war crimes.

UN Commission chairman Santiago Canton found out that Israeli soldiers committed multiple breaches of international humanitarian law as they were violent towards protesters who wanted to return to their former homes, now inside Israel. Santiago Canton stated that “Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity,” He also went on to say to reporters that “People have the right to demonstrate, they have the right to assembly.” In relation to this, Commission member Sarah Hossain told reporters in Geneva that Israeli snipers “intentionally shot children… They have intentionally shot people with disabilities. They have intentionally shot journalists,” she added. According to the inquiry set up in May by the UN Human Rights Council, Health workers were also targeted, and snipers took out more than 6000 peaceful protestors. The Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told AFP that the evidence proved that Israel “committed clear war crimes” against the Palestinian peaceful protestors. However, this was turned down by Israel who believes that Hamas was using the protests as an excuse to cover up their terrorist activity.

Netanyahu said on Twitter that “it is Hamas which fires rockets at Israeli civilians, bombs and carries out terrorist activities during the violent demonstrations on the fence.” However, the investigators were able to conclude that the evidence conveyed that Israeli troops were the ones who targeted the Palestinians. There has been an argument that the Palestinian protestors were a threat to the Israeli troops however it was proven by the investigators that the protestors were “…neither directly participating in hostilities, nor posing an imminent threat.” The commission also stated that the protests were not acts of terrorism, instead, they were “civilian in nature.” However, there seems to be a constant effort to cover up this behaviour. In fact, Netanyahu stated that the UN rights council had reached “new records of hypocrisy and lies, out of obsessive hatred of Israel.”

Although the investigators didn’t have access to the Israeli military secrets, based on available, public evidence, the commission stated that the Israeli troops were instructed to use lethal force against those who incite others to violence. The purpose of the UN investigation also involved identifying individuals who could be prosecuted for international war crimes however this remains private information which will be passed on to court officials. The UN reportedly asked that states should “consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze, on those identified as responsible by the commission.”

The massive disconnect between what is happening between the Israeli troops and the Palestinians remains incredibly frustrating for those suffering. The evidence has proven that there were several deaths at the Gaza strip by Israeli troops and therefore this must be stopped. There needs to be more international recognition of this treatment as well as international intervention to help those find shelter. It is imperative that states hold themselves accountable to international law and that there are clear consequences for those who murder people without cause.

Aisha Parker