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Israel has failed to initiate prosecutions relating to Gaza war crimes, NGO tells UN

A Palestinian is being carried away after being injured by Israeli forces during a protest within the "Great March of Return" demonstrations in Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on December 07, 2018. ( Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency )
A Palestinian is being carried away after being injured by Israeli forces during a protest within the "Great March of Return" demonstrations in Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on December 07, 2018. ( Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency )

Israeli authorities are guilty of “persistent unwillingness to conduct genuine investigations into grave incidents of suspected war crimes against unarmed Palestinian civilians” in the Gaza Strip, a leading Israeli human rights organisation has told a United Nations (UN) inquiry.

In a report submitted to the UN’s Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (COI), legal rights centre Adalah documented “the lack of Israeli domestic accountability mechanisms” in the context of both the 2014 war and the 2018 protests.

According to Adalah, Israel’s unwillingness to “conduct genuine investigations or to initiate prosecutions relating to the 2014 Gaza war stresses the need for international intervention to provide remedies and accountability for Palestinian victims of the 2018 protests.”

Adalah’s report to the COI “reviews Israel’s failed policies, practices and investigatory mechanisms in relation to the actions of its military in the 2014 war”, when Israeli troops “killed 2,251 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians, including 299 women and 551 children”.

Adalah believes lessons can be learned from the 2014 war, with respect to “avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility, for such violations and abuses, and on protecting civilians against any further assaults.”

READ: Former Israel PM ordered targeting densely populated areas in 2008 Gaza war 

Adalah, along with Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, filed complaints into 28 cases of suspected international humanitarian law violations – including war crimes – committed by the Israeli military in 2014. Of these, only three investigations have been opened, two of which have since been closed.

“All of these cases involve the killings of Palestinian civilians, including women and children,” stated Adalah, “and extensive damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure. No indictments have been issued in any of the cases.”

In the report submitted to the COI, Adalah concludes that “Israel’s system of investigating suspected international law violations by its military is unfit for purpose and falls far short of compliance with international standards of independence, impartiality, effectiveness, promptness and transparency.”

Thus, Adalah said, “Article 17 of the Rome Statute may give authority to the ICC to open investigations into these matters, in fulfilment of the principle of complementarity.”

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