Gaza: Investigation should look at more than attacks on UN buildings

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's announcement today that he will conduct an investigation into attacks on UN installations in Gaza is welcome yet insufficient, said Amnesty International, as the organisation reiterated its call for a comprehensive inquiry to be established.

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan said:

“The UN's investigation must not be so limited as to look only at recent attacks by Israeli forces on UN schools, staff and property in Gaza.

“It is not only the victims of attacks on the UN who have a right to know why their rights were violated and who was responsible, and to obtain justice and reparation.

“What is needed is a comprehensive international investigation that looks at all alleged violations of international law - by Israel, by Hamas and by other Palestinian armed groups involved in the conflict.”

Earlier today Amnesty International published a report showing that during and after the Gaza conflict Hamas forces in Gaza carried out a series of abductions, killings, torture (including “kneecappings”) against those they accused of “collaborating” with Israel, as well as opponents and critics.

Meanwhile, Amnesty researchers who visited both Gaza and southern Israel during the 22-day conflict and its immediate aftermath found compelling evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. This included direct attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, attacks which breached the prohibition on disproportionate attacks and the use of weapons, such as white phosphorus, which have indiscriminate effects when used in densely-populated civilian areas. In the same period, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of indiscriminate rockets into civilian population centres in southern Israel.

Amnesty is urging the UN Secretary General to immediately broaden the scope of the investigation announced today so that it would cover all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by all of the parties to the conflict. The Security Council should also support the call for a comprehensive investigation.

Irene Khan added:

“The Security Council must live up to its responsibility to uphold international law and to ensure full accountability. It should support a full and independent investigation that covers all attacks that may have violated the laws of war during the recent fighting in Gaza and southern Israel.”

Amnesty is urging all UN member states to support the Secretary General's initiative and to demand a comprehensive UN investigation into all alleged abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law during the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.

Irene Khan added:

“Long-term peace and security cannot be found in the Middle East unless accountability is established for crimes under international law and the cycle of impunity for serious violations perpetrated by all parties has come to an end.”

View latest press releases