Justice on the international stage is not always direct, swift, clear or fair. This case can most clearly be seen in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We see a situation where both sides have committed so many atrocities – it’s difficult to see the line between justified and unjustified actions. On Monday June 22, 2015, UN investigators have said that both the Palestinians and Israeli groups have committed grave human rights abuses during last years Gaza conflict. The International Criminal Court is now hoping to reprimand those guilty of war crimes, as both sides have committed the offence of bombing civilian areas.
The 217-page report by the UN tallied the attacks on Gaza to more than 6,000 airstrikes, 14,500 tank shells and 45,000 artillery shells in the span of July 7th to August 26th. In this time period, there were a reported 73 deaths on the Israeli side and 2,251 deaths on the Palestinian side. However, while Palestinians strongly support this inquiry, panel members have been barred from entering Gaza by both Israel and Hamas to conduct further research. On the other side of the conflict, the UN report has also condemned the kidnapping, torture, and murder of the Israeli teenagers.
This conflict is a difficult one, a conflict that has been raging since 1948. Given the current atmosphere and rhetoric of government officials, peace is not a likely outcome in the foreseeable future. This is not a singular or unique report. This region of the world has not seen peace in a very long time and the many atrocities committed by both sides over such a long period of time does not make this any different. A solution to this will not be achieved by pointing fingers. On one hand, Palestinians applaud the report but will deny atrocities committed on their own side. On the other hand, Netanayhu claims that the UN Human Rights Council “has a singular obsession with Israel” and that this report is “flawed and biased.” What both sides fail to realize is that the international community will point an injustice when they see it, whether it’s with Israeli or Palestinian militants or the Syrian or Sri Lankan governments. While it may be argued that international institutions such as the United Nations and The International Criminal Court may not be effective or consistent in their roles – the precedent for international justice is extremely important.
Earlier in June, the Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon said that he would not see peace with Palestine in his lifetime. Several states will still refuse to recognize Israel. Israel also sits precariously between several volatile states and this is how they have justified their own actions. However, at the end of the day, atrocities are committed on both sides and no one will give up land. At this point, throwing blame, creating an international environment of “taking sides” and holding grudges, will not lead to peace. Peace is established through discussion, perspective, and creating a spirit of negotiation. In the case of any civil conflict, peace is established through taking responsibility for the actions of ones government and its citizens. Everyone must come to terms with the past, that horrific things have happened and it is now time to move on. Peace is established through discussion, respect and understanding the problems and cultural differences between two sides. As long as old leaders stand with old values and hatreds, peace will not be achieved. Change of perspective will bring peace to the table once again – youth engagement and civic participation by the international community is paramount.