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UN: Israel has accepted no criminal responsibility for strikes on Gaza premises

Destruction in Gaza due to Israeli Airstrikes
A child looks over the destruction in Gaza due to Israeli Airstrikes. [File photo]

A UN agency stated Friday that no criminal responsibility has yet been accepted by Israeli authorities investigating strikes on the organisation’s premises in Gaza during the 2014 offensive.

The remarks, by UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, came in response to the Israeli military closing its criminal investigation into an attack on August 3 in Rafah, when an Israeli-fired missile struck the road outside a UN school being used as a shelter, killing 15 and injuring 30.

According to an update posted this week on the website of the Israeli Military Advocate General, the investigation was closed without filling charges, along with six other incidents.

According to Gunness, UNRWA “notified the Israeli Army on 33 separate occasions that this school in Rafah was being used to accommodate the displaced, the last time only an hour before the attack.”

He added: “This raises serious questions about the conduct of military operations in relation to obligations under international humanitarian law and respect for the inviolability and sanctity of United Nations premises under international law.”

Gunness went on to note that UNRWA has “called for accountability in this case and in others”, and that “any indication that responsibility was being evaded would be a matter of grave concern.”

“We note that no criminal responsibility seems to be accepted for any concluded cases concerning UNRWA premises”, Gunness said. “The families affected have had no effective redress and, from their perspective, this would certainly be seen as a further denial of their rights.”

Two years after the end of ‘Operation Protective Edge’, Israeli criminal investigations are still ongoing into the strikes on UNRWA emergency shelters in Beit Hanoun (24 July) and in Jabalia (30 July) that resulted together in some 29 civilian deaths and dozens of injuries.

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