UN Sends International War Crimes Investigators To Probe Gaza Killings

On Tuesday May 15th, the United Nations Security Council began their session with a moment of silence for the dead, noting the grief the international community after the shooting incident at the Gaza borders. The United Nations Human Rights Council also held a special session on Friday to discuss on sending war crimes investigators to probe the deadly shootings of protestors at the Gaza borders. The main consideration of the meeting is to draft a resolution calling for the council to assemble an ‘independent, international commission of inquiry’’.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justified his country’s actions by emphasizing that “every country has an obligation to defend its borders”.

On the other hand, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres found the situation alarming as there was a sharp escalation of violence. While noting Israel’s right to defend their borders, UN Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville expressed his opinion to the media regarding how unacceptable the level of force used by Israel was. He also added context that the force used was not reasonable as there was no lethal or life-threatening act with the protestors approaching a fence. UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein supported that line of argument in emphasizing the actions of protesters did not pose an imminent threat to life which could justify Israel’s use of lethal force against civilians. Zeid says there is ‘little evidence’ in proving Israel’s claims for trying to minimize casualties. Consecutively, he supported the calls for an inquiry on the firing into Gaza killing nearly 60 Palestinians at the border protests on Monday.

The protests stemmed from the ongoing humanitarian crisis as a result from an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, where Palestinians who fled or were evicted, want to return to their lands in Israel. Monday, May 14th marked an escalating violent incident as the major protests involved the killing of at least 60 Palestinians. SBS reported that at least 8 Palestinians killed in the incident were below the age of 18, with an eight-month-old baby Leila taking the cover of Al Jazeera as “the face of Gaza carnage” as she died after inhaling the tear gas.

The gruesome effects of Israel’s use of force raised questions on crimes against humanity, encouraging the Security Council to draft a resolution addressing the problem by investigating the killings. Pakistan presented the draft resolution on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and with the support of 47 UN member states. The aim of the investigation was set to determine the facts and circumstances circulating firstly, any actions that may amount to war crimes, and secondly, to identify those responsible for the actions.

The UN made a noteworthy move by responding quickly to the event for two reasons. Firstly, an interference by an intergovernmental organization is needed to resolve the conflict that happened at the borders of two countries. It is their duty to maintain international order and to promote international cooperation in resolving a crisis like this. Secondly, by placing a great importance on this investigation, it acts as an oppression towards Israel’s continuing use of force, which could protect the lives of the survivors, at least for now.

With knowledge of the casualties and implications involved, other countries should join forces to support the resolution and investigation. With the support of neighbouring countries and determination by the UN, hopefully, Israel will stop its use of force against civilians.

Cherie Gan