Will Israel be held responsible for war crimes? | Israeli-Palestinian Conflict News


Like tens of thousands of Gazans, Aymen al-Djaroucha had to flee his home with his family during an 11-day battle between the Israeli army and Palestinian armed groups (mainly Hamas, which controls the blocked enclave).

The bird sang outside his office window, and the father of three explained what it was like to leave the place for the past 12 years-without any belongings.

“You have all your memories there. It’s where our children grew up. We spent each other’s time here, sharing happy moments and difficult moments. My whole life has been there.”

However, he had to leave. The Israeli military called the caretaker of the apartment building on May 14 to warn families to evacuate. Less than an hour later, they bombed it, destroyed several apartments, and caused a fire that swept across the building.

He said that he has since returned to assess the scale of the loss and “trying to return to a normal life.”

“The apartment above the eighth floor was destroyed by fire. Civil defense is difficult to extinguish. We have a lot of internal and stairwell maintenance work and a lot of cleaning work.”

‘Back to normal’

It is one of several high-rise buildings in Gaza City, the target of Israeli air strikes, including the al-Jalaa building where several media organizations such as Al Jazeera and The Associated Press are located.

Since the escalation of hostilities on May 10, the skyline of this metropolis of nearly 600,000 people has undergone major changes.

In addition to the destruction of at least 2,000 houses and damage to more than 15,000 other units, Gaza’s already dilapidated infrastructure has also been severely hit.

The United Nations reported that six hospitals, nine medical centers and a desalination plant were damaged in the fighting.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Al-Djaroucha, a project coordinator in Gaza, said that their burn and trauma clinic was damaged in an air strike.

“Not only is the entire waiting area affected, there is also a main disinfection room that we use to prepare materials and disinfect the tools we use in all outpatient departments. Therefore, it is vital that we can get back to normal as soon as possible.

The road to Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical institution in the Gaza Strip, and the only COVID-19 testing laboratory in the enclave were also damaged.

The Israeli military claims that it only targets buildings linked to Hamas and other armed groups. However, Raj Sulani, director of the Palestine Center for Human Rights in Gaza, refuted this claim.

“This is not the goal of Hamas; this is not the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] Targeted; this is not the goal of Islamic Jihad. I believe this is a target for civilians,” he said.

“From the first hour of the first day [of the recent escalation], Civilians are the targets of these high-tech aircraft (F16 and F35), rockets are designed for military targets, and you will see these things accurately aimed. Dozens of children and women were killed. There is nothing to prove this,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas of using civilians as “human shields.” However, in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council last week, Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN human rights affairs, stated that they did not see evidence to support Israel’s claims that the buildings they bombed in Gaza were “accommodating armed forces. The group may be used for military purposes”.

Even before the recent violence broke out, the International Criminal Court (ICC) had begun investigating previous ongoing conflicts. Last month, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated that she was closely monitoring what was happening there.

Both sides have been charged with war crimes; Hamas fired rockets indiscriminately into Israeli civilian areas-although out of more than 2,000 rockets, about 640 fell into the Gaza Strip, and 90% crossed the border by Israel’s iron dome Missile defense system intercepts-and Israel has repeatedly bombed civilian settlements in Gaza.

Legal attack?

At this stage, information is still being collected, but Yael Stein, research director of B’Tselem, the Human Rights Information Center for the Occupied Territories, believes that the Israeli bombing of civilian buildings in Gaza violates international law.

“In order for an attack to be legal, it must be targeted at both military targets and moderately,” she explained.

For a building to be a military target, destroying it should give Israel a military advantage. In order to be proportional, you must determine whether the military advantage you expect from the bombing is greater than the loss of the civilian population.

Stein added that even when civilians get some warnings about when to evacuate to save lives, civilian property is still being demolished, which is “still part of the calculation.”

“I think the past has proved that the Israeli army is interpreting this principle in a broader way that drafters of international law never expected, which is far from being considered proportionate,” she said.

Netanyahu accused the International Criminal Court of investigating the attack as “pure anti-Semitism” and said that Israel does not accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. However, it is not necessary. Stein said the court could operate without Israel’s acceptance.

However, it will take a long time for the International Criminal Court to be responsible for the actions of anyone, whether it is a Hamas leader and/or an Israeli official.

“We have just started this process. It will take years to actually investigate, and then it will take years for someone to be charged, and then it will take years for someone to go to jail,” she said.

She added that the lack of enforcement mechanisms in international humanitarian law is a problem. “So the country can violate the basic norms of international law and nothing will happen.”

Relentless Siege

Eric Goldstein, Acting Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, said that international awareness and willingness to pay attention to Israeli war crimes have changed.

The UN Human Rights Council recently decided to launch an ongoing investigation into Israel and Palestine for human rights violations. This is a “welcome step” and he urged Israel to cooperate with it.

“We will vigorously promote the International Criminal Court so that they can review war crimes committed by all parties,” Goldstein said.

However, long-term peace is impossible unless the root cause is “solved,” the main reason being that Gaza is regarded as the world’s largest open-air prison — the enclave has been under relentless Israeli siege since Hamas took control of Gaza More than 14 years.

“This leaves people there without a future, without hope, and their rights are violated almost every day,” Stein said, adding that the international community needs to put pressure on Israel to prevent this from happening.

“You must treat these people as human beings. As equals, they should have the same rights as all other people in the territories under Israeli control.”

Goldstein added that the oppression of the Palestinians was “equivalent to apartheid,” exacerbating the conflict and providing “a certain amount of political support” for Hamas. He said that the United States in particular needs to “take its unconditional support for Israel more seriously,” and the parties that helped Hamas “committed war crimes in logistics or providing materials” should stop.

Both Israel and Hamas declared victory at the end of the 11-day battle. Israel said they killed nearly 30 senior Hamas commanders, destroyed 340 rocket launchers, and 130 kilometers (60 miles) underground. tunnel.

But what is the price?

The number of Palestinians killed in Gaza last month was 256, including 66 children. In Israel, 13 people were killed, including two children.

Sourani of the Palestine Center for Human Rights, who has experienced the first three wars, said he has never experienced a period of violence like the recent one. “I tell you honestly, for 11 days, I never thought that dawn would come and I would see the sun rise again.”

Sourani said that every family in Gaza has been affected: many relatives have lost their lives, their livelihoods have been destroyed, and their houses have been razed to the ground.

“What have you done Hadidi family do [to deserve this]? He asked, referring to the family that lost 10 members in the Israeli airstrike-only the father and baby boy survived.

He said that when the call to prayer echoes in the background, accountability “means that this will not be repeated.”


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