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UN Report Finds Evidence Of War Crimes In Gaza

A new report by a United Nations investigative panel on the possible commission of war crimes in Gaza during the 2014 conflict between Israel and Palestinian armed groups has gathered substantial information finding the allegations to be credible, the organization’s human rights office announced today.

The report – issued June 22 by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict – suggests possible war crimes were committed by both Palestinian and Israeli armed groups during the 51-day conflict, which resulted in over a thousand deaths and the widespread destruction of the Gaza strip.

“The extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come,” said Justice Mary McGowan Davis, chair of the commission. “There is also ongoing fear in Israel among communities who come under regular threat.”

According to the report’s findings, the 2014 hostilities saw a “huge increase” in the firepower used in Gaza with Israeli forces conducting more than 6,000 airstrikes and firing approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells at targets within the enclave. The explosion of force used by Israel ultimately resulted in 1,462 Palestinian civilian casualties, a third of which were children.

Moreover, the fighting in Gaza also resulted in the massive destruction of civilian infrastructure with some 100,000 residents still homeless, according to recent UN estimates.

Much of the destruction, the UN report noted, could be blamed on Israel’s use of weaponry with a wide kill and injury radius, particularly in the densely populated areas of Gaza where destruction and casualties are very likely.

At the same time, the commission reported that Palestinian militants had also fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel in July and August of last year, killing 6 civilians and injuring at least 1,600 people.

As the fighting in Gaza raged throughout the summer of 2014, its impact also reverberated across the region, spreading terror among Israeli civilians and prompting outbursts of deadly violence in the West Bank, where 27 Palestinians were killed and 3,020 injured in clashes with Israeli Security Forces.

In her summation of the report, McGowan Davis observed that when the safety of an Israeli soldier is at stake, “all the rules seem to be disregarded.”

“Israel must break with its lamentable track record in holding wrong doers accountable,” the UN Commission of Inquiry’s assessment continued, adding that "accountability on the Palestinian side is also woefully inadequate.”

In addition, the UN inquiry said it remained “disturbed” by Israel’s decision to close a criminal investigation into the killing of four children on a beach in Gaza on 16 July. The commission pointed out that international journalists and numerous Palestinian eyewitnesses were not interviewed by the Israeli authorities, raising further doubts about the thoroughness of their investigation.

“We were deeply moved by the immense suffering and resilience of the victims,” the UN Commission of Inquiry’s assessment concluded. “We just hope our report contributes in some small way to ending the cycle of violence.”

Speaking in Israel on June 24, German Bundestag (parliament) President Norbert Lammert said a quarter century after the fall of the Iron Curtain, borders within Europe, within the European Union, have lost much of their significance but that it is not the case everywhere. “We understand Israel’s concerns,” he said, “for it still lacks secure borders."

“We believe that Israel must have the same right as its neighbors to live within internationally recognized borders, free from fear, terror and violence," Lammert said. "At the same time, we do not ignore the fact that Israel’s share in the responsibility for conditions in the Palestinian territories is also an issue of relevance in this context. The necessary debate must be conducted, first and foremost, here in Israel, and is already taking place. It is contentious, sometimes impassioned, always democratic, and it is taking place within society and particularly here in the Knesset.”

Israel has not issued a public statement about the report but is known to be already dissatisfied with the UN Human Rights Council.

In the United States, John Kirby, spokesperson for the State Department, said “we challenge the very mechanism which created it and so we’re not going to have a readout of this.”

“We’re not going to have a rebuttal to it. We’re certainly going to read it, as we read all UN reports. But we challenge the very foundation upon which this report was written, and we don’t believe that there’s a call or a need for any further Security Council work on this.”

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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