Time for justice in Israel and Gaza
It has been two years since Israel’s 50-day military offensive in Gaza brought unprecedented death and destruction to the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. 1,462 Palestinian civilians in Gaza, including 551 children, and six civilians in Israel were killed. Both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes but two years later the people of Israel and Gaza have received no justice.
Israeli military targeted civilians
An attack on Rafah carried out by Israeli forces from 1st to 4th August killed at least 135 civilians, including 75 children. A heavily populated area in the city of Rafah was bombarded by artillery fire and other imprecise explosive weaponry in indiscriminate attacks. The attacks came without warning, following a ceasefire that saw civilians returning to their homes, believing they would be safe.
Hospitals were attacked, leaving doctors and patients injured and scrambling to escape. An ambulance carrying a wounded elderly man, a woman and three children was hit by a drone fired missile on 1 August, killing all those wounded and three medics.
These attacks are an example of the war crimes seen in Gaza during the 50-day conflict and they must be investigated.
Hamas’ indiscriminate targeting of civilians
Palestinian armed groups launched thousands of unguided rockets and mortars towards Israel, often directing them towards civilian areas, killing six civilians in Israel and wounding others. Another 13 civilians, including 11 children, were killed in Gaza when a projectile fired from within the Strip landed in a crowded refugee camp.
Hamas forces used abduction, torture, and unlawfully killing in a crackdown on Palestinians accused of “collaborating” with Israel. At least 23 were killed and dozens were tortured in custody.
The indiscriminate or direct mortar attacks and the torture and extrajudicial killings committed by Hamas in conflict all amount to war crimes and the Hamas authorities have failed to investigate these unlawful attacks.
Lack of accountability on both sides
We’ve documented a number of human rights abuses on both sides and have called on both the Israeli Military and Hamas to investigate human rights abuses committed during the conflict.
However, of the 225 cases referred to the Israeli fact finding mission only eight have been opened to criminal investigation and only one has led to criminal charges. A lack of transparency in the process makes it difficult to challenge decisions.
Hamas denied involvement in the summary killings of Palestinians documented by Amnesty, but said that they were investigating. Their findings on summary killings have yet to be published, and there are no signs of investigations into the rocket and mortar attacks which killed many Israeli and Palestinian citizens.
International Criminal Court investigation
On 16 January 2015, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced a preliminary examination into crimes committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 13 June 2014. The Prosecutor is examining crimes committed by both sides during and since the 2014 Gaza/Israel war which could bring those responsible for war crimes to justice.
So long as both parties fail to hold alleged perpetrators of war crimes and other serious violations to account, international justice mechanisms offer the only way to address impunity and bring justice to the people of Israel and Palestine. The ICC examination is the first step towards achieving this.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.