Euro-Mid Investigation of Israeli Assault on Gaza
Documents War Crimes
November 1, 2014
|Gaza families fleeing their
neighborhoods targeted by Israeli air-land strikes, August 2014
Right click on photos for information about them
Euro-Mid Investigation of Israeli Assault on Gaza Documents
PIC, November 1, 2014
In the wake of the 50-day Israeli assault that devastated the
Gaza Strip, reconstruction must not be the only priority, according to
the nonprofit organization Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights.
All perpetrators of war crimes must be held to account, and Euro-Mid has
taken the initial step by completing the first comprehensive
investigation into Israeli actions during “Operation Protective Edge.”
“If we want young Palestinians to turn away from violent resistance
in the future, they must believe that international law will be
respected and enforced,” said Ihsan Adel, legal officer for Euro-Mid, a
nongovernmental human rights watchdog focusing on the Middle East-North
“Our investigation documented both indiscriminate
attacks on civilians by Israeli forces and their use of captured
Palestinians as human shields. When the UN Human Rights Council arrives
in the coming days to conduct its own investigation, our reports will
already have laid the groundwork. Now it is up to the international
community to demonstrate to the youth of today that the rule of law
applies to everyone.”
The initial fieldwork for the Euro-Mid
investigation began on July 10, the second day of the massive Israeli
assault on Gaza. Throughout the course of the conflict, 24 Gaza-based
researchers, many with legal backgrounds, visited every hot spot that
erupted, interviewing more than 432 individuals involved in or
eyewitnesses to144 instances in which more than two Palestinians were
killed at one time.
The Euro-Mid investigation is summarized in
two reports: “Indiscriminate Attacks and Deliberate Killing: Israel
Takes Revenge on Gaza by Killing Civilians,” and “Israeli Matrix of
Control: Use of Palestinians as Human Shields.”
Between 8 July and 26 August, Israeli forces conducted an estimated
60,664 raids into the Gaza Strip. This report documents that in many
cases, the attacks were indiscriminate.
Not only did Israeli
forces fail to take sufficient measures to protect noncombatants,
including children and the disabled, but in a number of instances they
deliberately targeted locations with concentrations of civilians.
Reports from physicians on the ground strongly suggest that Israel
deployed “unconventional weapons” (nail bombs and DIME – “dense inert
metal explosive” – munitions), which are designed to cause maximum
damage and thus are not considered permissible in densely populated
areas – either legally or morally.
Likewise, the investigation
showed that the so-called “warnings” issued by the government of Israel,
typically in the form of telephone calls or “roof knocks,” were
insufficient to offer protection.
Use of Palestinians as
Euro-Mid documented use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by
Israeli military forces in at least six cases in the southern Gaza city
of Khan Younis. These civilians were held against their will for hours
or days to protect Israeli soldiers from fire, and in the meantime were
subjected to inhumane and abusive treatment such as beating, humiliation
and exposure to the hot sun while naked for long periods of time.
In contrast, the Euro-Mid team did not find any evidence of
Palestinians who were forced to stay in their homes or to use their
bodies for the protection of Palestinian resistance factions, as charged
by the Israeli government.
Call to action
The indiscriminate attacks on noncombatants, deployment of
unconventional weapons and the use of Palestinians as human shields are
violations of international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes
under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights calls on the Fact Finding Committee
on the Gaza Conflict recently established by the UN Human Rights
Council, soon to arrive in Gaza, to make every effort to focus
international attention and pressure on all parties found to be guilty
of these crimes. Likewise, the UN Security Council and General Assembly
must back these efforts with their own positions of authority and
“The reconstruction of Gaza is needed for
Palestinians to be able to live,” said Ramy Abdu, PhD, Euro-Mid
chairman. “However, without accountability for crimes and protection of
human rights, it will be a life without dignity or hope.”
How Israel is Turning Gaza into a Super-max Prison
By Jonathan Cook
November 1, 2014, PIC --
Nazareth It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed
into the Stone Age according to the explicit goals of an Israeli
military doctrine known as “Dahiya”, has tentatively only just begun two
months after the end of the fighting.
According to the United
Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 600,000
Palestinians – nearly one in three of Gaza’s population – homeless or in
urgent need of humanitarian help.
Roads, schools and the
electricity plant to power water and sewerage systems are in ruins. The
cold and wet of winter are approaching. Aid agency Oxfam warns that at
the current rate of progress it may take 50 years to rebuild Gaza.
Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would
the international community stand by idly as so many people suffer – and
not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans?
reason for the hold-up is, as ever, Israel’s “security needs”. Gaza can
be rebuilt but only to the precise specifications laid down by Israeli
We have been here before. Twelve years ago, Israeli
bulldozers rolled into Jenin camp in the West Bank in the midst of the
second intifada. Israel had just lost its largest number of soldiers in
a single battle as the army struggled through a warren of narrow alleys.
In scenes that shocked the world, Israel turned hundreds of homes to
With residents living in tents, Israel insisted on the
terms of Jenin camp’s rehabilitation. The alleys that assisted the
Palestinian resistance in its ambushes had to go. In their place,
streets were built wide enough for Israeli tanks to patrol.
short, both the Palestinians’ humanitarian needs and their right in
international law to resist their oppressor were sacrificed to satisfy
Israel’s desire to make the enforcement of its occupation more
It is hard not to view the agreement reached in Cairo
this month for Gaza’s reconstruction in similar terms.
pledged $5.4 billion – though, based on past experience, much of it
won’t materialise. In addition, half will be immediately redirected to
the distant West Bank to pay off the Palestinian Authority’s mounting
debts. No one in the international community appears to have suggested
that Israel, which has asset-stripped both the West Bank and Gaza in
different ways, foot the bill.
The Cairo agreement has been
widely welcomed, though the terms on which Gaza will be rebuilt have
been only vaguely publicised. Leaks from worried insiders, however, have
fleshed out the details.
One Israeli analyst has compared the
proposed solution to transforming a third-world prison into a modern US
super-max incarceration facility. The more civilised exterior will
simply obscure its real purpose: not to make life better for the
Palestinian inmates, but to offer greater security to the Israeli
Humanitarian concern is being harnessed to allow Israel
to streamline an eight-year blockade that has barred many essential
items, including those needed to rebuild Gaza after previous assaults.
The agreement passes nominal control over Gaza’s borders and the
transfer of reconstruction materials to the PA and UN in order to bypass
and weaken Hamas. But the overseers – and true decision-makers – will be
Israel. For example, it will get a veto over who supplies the massive
quantities of cement needed. That means much of the donors’ money will
end up in the pockets of Israeli cement-makers and middlemen.
the problem runs deeper than that. The system must satisfy Israel’s
desire to know where every bag of cement or steel rod ends up, to
prevent Hamas rebuilding its home-made rockets and network of tunnels.
The tunnels, and element of surprise they offered, were the reason
Israel lost so many soldiers. Without them, Israel will have a freer
hand next time it wants to “mow the grass”, as its commanders call
Gaza’s repeated destruction.
Last week Israel’s defence minister
Moshe Yaalon warned that rebuilding Gaza would be conditioned on Hamas’s
good behaviour. Israel wanted to be sure “the funds and equipment are
not used for terrorism, therefore we are closely monitoring all of the
The PA and UN will have to submit to a database
reviewed by Israel the details of every home that needs rebuilding.
Indications are that Israeli drones will watch every move on the ground.
Israel will be able to veto anyone it considers a militant – which
means anyone with a connection to Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Presumably,
Israel hopes this will dissuade most Palestinians from associating with
the resistance movements.
Further, it is hard not to assume that
the supervision system will provide Israel with the GPS co-ordinates of
every home in Gaza, and the details of every family, consolidating its
control when it next decides to attack. And Israel can hold the whole
process to ransom, pulling the plug at any moment.
Sadly, the UN
– desperate to see relief for Gaza’s families – has agreed to conspire
in this new version of the blockade, despite its violating international
law and Palestinians’ rights.
Washington and its allies, it
seems, are only too happy to see Hamas and Islamic Jihad deprived of the
materials needed to resist Israel’s next onslaught.
The New York
Times summed up the concern: “What is the point of raising and spending
many millions of dollars … to rebuild the Gaza Strip just so it can be
destroyed in the next war?”
For some donors exasperated by years of
sinking money into a bottomless hole, upgrading Gaza to a super-max
prison looks like a better return on their investment.
Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. He
contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
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