On Wednesday the Israeli military closed its investigation into four cases of mass killings of Palestinian civilians during the 2014 Gaza war. The military report found that in the four cases, which included the deaths of 49 people, the Israeli strikes were legal due to either mistakes, Hamas being responsible or an attack not happening at all.
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On 17 July 2014, three children from the Shuheibar family were killed by a missile most likely fired by an Israeli drone operator, while another two children were seriously injured. A component of that missile, collected by the family, had “France” written on it. Experts established that it was produced by Eurofarad, a French company later acquired by Exxelia Technologies. French human rights organization ACAT together with a local partner from Gaza, collected evidence and testimonies, and with the help of Ancile-avocats legal office submitted a complaint against the French weapons manufacturer for their complicity in war crimes and involuntary manslaughter.
For the past two weeks people have been bombarding Tiffany’s Facebook page with questions about the company’s funding of Givati Brigade, a unit of the Israeli military that has been accused of war crimes.
Revenue from a Tiffany’s supplier, the Beny Steinmetz Group Resources company, is channelled via the Steinmetz Foundation to the Israeli military which stands accused of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity by the UN Human Rights Council. Sean Clinton writes, “While Tiffany & Co’s efforts to promote ‘responsible mining’ and prevent ‘conflict diamonds’ from entering their supply chain are laudable, the failure to fully secure their supply chain means that diamonds linked to gross human rights violations in Palestine can still infiltrate their supply.”
On August 7, UK citizen Damian Moran posted a petition on the UK Government and Parliament E-petition website calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the U.K for the massacre of over 2000 civilians in 2014”. The petition spread swiftly on social media and as of September 4th it has garnered over 99,000 signatures. The UK government has promised to respond to all petitions over 100,000 signatures including considering them for debate in Parliament.
“What we saw was not just war,” Rafah resident Iyad Ghaboun said of Israel’s summer 2014 attack on Gaza. “It was like a meat machine making mincemeat from people without mercy.” Israel carried out war crimes and “possible crimes against humanity” in its attack on Rafah, Gaza from 1-4 August, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
The US was the only country in the world to oppose a resolution calling for Israel to be held accountable for war crimes, at the 29th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held from 15 June to 3 July 2015. The US voted against “ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in” the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Palestinian leaders seek to charge Israel with the crime of “Apartheid,” and 22 other charges including seven war crimes, according to Shawan Jabarin, the director of the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq. The thick set of documents were ceremoniously handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) today at headquarters in The Hague, yet yesterday morning Jabarin was given exclusive access to the report in Ramallah.
The UN Human Rights Commission report on last summer’s Gaza war is inappropriately “balanced.” It is more or less equally critical of Israeli and Hamas actions, without regard to the differences between the vast and horrific extent of civilian destruction caused by Israel and the far lesser civilian deaths and destruction that resulted from the largely ineffective Hamas attacks. –Scholar Jerome Slater
Since last August when professor of international law William Schabas was appointed as the head of a United Nations war crimes inquiry into violations committed in Gaza over the summer, Israel has repeatedly sought to remove him. Last week, Israel won. Schabas recused himself amid allegations of bias in a favor of the Palestinian government, but the resignation is not enough for Israel. It wants the entire investigation scrapped.
A prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has opened an inquiry into possible war crimes carried out by Israel in advance of the Palestinian government’s official ascension to the court. Meanwhile, the Palestinians plan to re-file a UN Security Council resolution to end Israel’s occupation.
Within days of Palestinians announcing they would join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his country would stop transferring customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority. The punitive move was expected to lead to a crisis for the Palestinian leadership as government services would collapse across the West Bank. But the Palestinian Authority had an unexpected back up plan. The Arab League has agreed to provide emergency funds to cover the VAT-taxes frozen by Israel. This Arab League safety net will help the Palestinians avoid the expected temporary bankruptcy and allow them to move forward with pressing for war crimes at the ICC. In fact, financial support from the Arab League was a key component, along with joining the ICC, of long-term strategy to pressure Israel into negotiations.
The door to the Hague may be open, but Abbas is in no hurry to venture through it.
Today, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the body will not be prosecuting Israel for the deadly attack on humanitarian passengers of the Mavi Marmara although she has reason to believe that war crimes were committed by Israel. In a statement Bensouda said the case is not “of ‘sufficient gravity’ to justify further action”
Amnesty International’s new report, “Families Under the Rubble- Israeli attacks on inhabited homes” accuses Israel of committing war crimes by targeting and killing scores of Palestinians civilian with no warning during Operation Protective Edge, last summer’s slaughter in Gaza. The report says, “Given the failure of Israeli and Palestinian authorities to independently and impartially investigate allegations of war crimes, it is imperative that the international community support the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
A new ad campaign on Portland’s TriMet buses features the slogan ISRAEL’S WAR CRIMES: YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK. The same ad was blocked from Seattle buses four years ago, and a lawsuit is still pending
The U.S. is not a neutral mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; it is an active participant and is guilty of the crimes being committed by Israel against Palestinians, most recently, the mass killings and destruction Israel wrought on the Gaza Strip during the summer. The reality that the U.S. is an active supporter of unimaginable suffering may very well be the motivating force behind the U.S.’s adamant attempts to block the Palestinians from using any of the internationally recognized tools of accountability to hold Israel responsible, such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. When an indigenous, stateless population is blocked access to opportunities for justice by superpowers like the U.S., something is wrong—deadly wrong.
Accusations that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza during its latest military operation there have come in hard and fast. But the burning question is whether the Israeli soldiers or commanders responsible for the alleged crimes will be held accountable. The prospects for accountability are slim, but there are three main tools the Palestinians can wield to attempt to put Israel in the dock.
In recent days, well-documented accounts of war crimes have poured out of the Gaza Strip from journalists and human rights advocates. Many of these accounts have focused on Khuza’a, the site of intensive Israeli bombardment in late July. Journalists and human rights groups have reported that Israeli soldiers shot unarmed civilians, including people waving white flags, and used Palestinian civilians as human shields.
Former rugby star Trevor Hogan gave a speech in solidarity with the brave people of Gaza on August 9 in which he called for a siege on the Israeli embassy until the Israeli ambassador is forced to leave the country. And Irish political friends of Israel should change their names to Friends of Apartheid.
The Israeli narrative on terrorism seeks to present Israel as an enlightened nation that avoids civilian casualties. But on closer inspection, this discourse fails precisely where it claims to be strongest. Israel’s actual practices, informed by its combat doctrine, are fundamentally at odds with how international law defines the concept of “civilian.” As Michael Sfard, the legal advisor of the Yesh Din organization, argues, Israel’s combat doctrine is “a ‘targeted assassination’ of international law.”
Last week Rep. Steve Israel, visiting Israel on AIPAC’s dime, bridled at angry tweeters. He’s still on the defensive, snorting that some accuse Israel of “war crimes.” Yes, Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch, for one.
Why are Israelis so overwhelmingly in support of war? Hilla Dayan and PW Zuidhof, a Dutch-Israeli couple, describe an atmosphere of paranoia inside the country, of inflated fear and disdain for Palestinian dead. In their criticism of the war, they understand themselves as outsiders, if not traitors
Israeli officials estimate that 2,500-5,000 soldiers currently serving in the army are what are called “lone soldiers” – Jews who come to Israel to serve in the military despite having grown up elsewhere and having no immediate family members in the country. Although lone soldiers and volunteer army aides are not mercenaries in the sense that they receive significant compensation, or are motivated for reasons of personal gain, the recruitment of foreigners by Israel to fight in a colonial assault against an occupied people is clearly a practice that violates the spirit of international law.
The U.S. cast the sole vote yesterday against establishing an investigation by the United Nations into war crimes committed in Gaza. The United Nations Human Rights Council voted 29-1, with 17 abstentions, to establish an inquiry. The European nations on the council all abstained.