A Jewish group in Germany has filed criminal charges against Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defence Minister Benny Gantz for alleged war crimes committed in the besieged Gaza Strip in August.
"We, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, are filing criminal charges against Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defence Minister Benny Gantz for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed under their leadership in the Gaza Strip in August this year," said JVJP. The group rejected the Israeli claim that the attack — "Operation Breaking Dawn" — was carried out in self-defence.
"This was a supposed pre-emptive strike that was carried out without a concrete threat," said JVJP. "In public, this excessive attack was largely portrayed as self-defence against Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which in fact only fired rockets in response to the Israeli bombardment." Even if the opposite was true, it added, there would be no justification for such a scale of civilian suffering and destruction.
Dismissing the claims of the occupation state further, the group went on to say: "Israel, thanks to international – including German – complicity, has the most modern weapons technology at its disposal and is of course capable of carrying out precise attacks. When so many civilian casualties are accepted in order to eliminate a few combatants, the end result is deliberate massacres."
Citing Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, JVJP said that it is forbidden to launch an attack that is expected to accidentally kill or injure civilians or damage civilian objects in a way that is disproportionate to the concrete and direct military advantage expected.
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The group said that it is demanding "consequences for the two men who are responsible for this suffering above all others" and pointed out that Benny Gantz is currently a fugitive from justice over his role in the 2014 Israeli onslaught against Gaza. Gantz was Chief of Staff during the six-week long operation and is responsible for even greater devastation caused by so-called "Operation Protective Edge"; at least 1,500 Palestinian civilians were killed by Israel, including 500 children. During the 2019 General Election campaign in Israel, Gantz boasted of having "bombed Gaza back to the Middle Ages."
Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East insisted that all war criminals should be treated in the same way, including Israelis. "As a Jewish organisation, we stand for universal human rights. Like many Jewish organisations worldwide, we insist that Israel neither represents Jews nor speaks on our behalf. Israel must be held accountable for war crimes like any other state."
UPDATE: This article was updated at 09:15GMT on 14 September 2022 to remove mention of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza in May 2021