World, Middle East

UN Gaza report draws international outrage

Report prompts calls for Israeli leaders to be tried for ‘war crimes’

Tayfun Salci, Ahmet Gurhan Kartal, Yusuf Ozcan, Abdullah Asiran   | 06.03.2019
UN Gaza report draws international outrage

LONDON

Anger has been mounting worldwide over a recent UN inquiry which found that Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the Great March of Return rallies in 2018, with many calling for those responsible to be held accountable.

UK

“The report reinforces all previous Palestinian and international reports that Israel is committing war crimes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem,” said Zaher Birawi, head of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG).

“I call for immediate action by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into these crimes and to hold the occupation and its leaders accountable for all their attacks and bring them to international justice, to stop dealing with Israel as a state above the law and to work for the international protection of the Palestinian people,” Birawi told Anadolu Agency.

He said he is also calling for “Arab and international practical action to end the blockade imposed on Gaza for 12 years immediately and to grant more than 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza freedom of movement and all they need for a decent human life”.

The president of the Muslim Association of Britain, Anas Altikriti, said the UN findings are “as clear a condemnation of Israel as one can imagine”.

“The UN enquiry concluded with a verdict describing Israel’s killing of Palestinian protestors within the same bracket as war crimes, Altikriti said, speaking to Anadolu Agency.

“The issue remains as to what the international community, and especially the major democratic states, will do to reflect such a clear and unequivocal indictment of Israel,” Altikriti said.

"Past experiences unfortunately inform us that little if anything will be done and that Israel will carry on its brutal inhumane policies regardless.

"If anything, this presents a serious challenge to the moral standing of the international community and world order," he added.

The report, published last week, also elicited reactions from many British politicians, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"The UN says Israel's killings of demonstrators in Gaza -- including children, paramedics and journalists -- may constitute 'war crimes or crimes against humanity'," Corbyn said on Twitter.

“The UK government must unequivocally condemn the killings and freeze arms sales to Israel,” he said.

France

The president of Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), Bertrand Heilbronn, told Anadolu Agency that the latest report should be adopted by the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Noting that tensions would rise during a possible vote on the report but the UNSC and the Human Rights Council must stand firm, Heilbronn said France must do its best for the adoption of the report.

While also urging the UN to stop Israel’s attacks on Gazans, protect those who are living under Israeli occupation and immediately end the blockade on Gaza, Heilbronn argued that France, which currently holds the presidency of the UNSC, has responsibilities.

He said there could be “no valid reason” to wound and kill people in Gaza and those who ordered the killings must be tried by the International Criminal Court.

Heilbronn added that the UN and EU countries have failed to act to stop Israeli attacks.

The Netherlands

Another reaction to the latest findings by the UN Commission of Inquiry came from the Netherlands’ DENK Party, which was founded by Turks and immigrants living in the country.

DENK’s parliamentary group chairman Tunahan Kuzu said even though various inquiries have found that Israel has clearly committed human rights crimes, in the end, no sanctions have been imposed on Tel Aviv and such reports are swept under the carpet.

“This reoccurs every time and unfairness and injustice continue,” Kuzu said in a statement to Anadolu Agency.

“What we demand from the Dutch government is bringing this to the United Nations Human Rights Council and pressuring the international community to sanction the Israeli government by condemning it openly and clearly,” he said.

“A call needs to be made for Israel to be tried at the ICC, even if it is not a member.”


UN Commission Report

In a report released last week, a UN fact-finding commission said Israel's deadly 2018 crackdown on Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza "may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity".

“The Commission has found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Commission chairperson Santiago Canton said last week in Geneva at a press conference.

“These violations clearly warrant criminal investigation and prosecution, and we call on Israel to conduct meaningful investigations into these serious violations and to provide timely justice for those killed and injured,” he said.

Created by the 47-Member UN Human Rights Council in May last year, the Commission of Inquiry was tasked with investigating all violence linked to anti-Israeli demonstrations on the Israel-Gaza border from March 30 to Dec. 31, 2018.

According to the report, 183 Palestinians were killed by Israeli army gunfire -- including 35 children -- since demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone first began in March of last year.

“Another 6,106 Palestinians were injured by live ammunition,” the report noted, “while a further 3,098 were hurt by shrapnel, rubber-coated bullets and/or teargas”.

The Great March of Return rallies reached a climax on May 15, the anniversary of the Nakba (Catastrophe) – the day hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcefully removed from their homes to make the establishment of Israel possible in 1948.

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