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Israeli War Crimes in Gaza Must Not Go Unpunished

By Ali Akbar

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 20, 2016


IHRC strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military assault in the Gaza Strip and calls on the international community to take immediate steps to halt the killing of innocent civilians.

In the last two days of air, sea and land bombardments alone, some 78 people have been killed and hundreds more wounded, including women and children. Among the victims was a two year-old baby, killed when a shell landed on her family home.

While Israel claims it is surgically targeting militants in Gaza the reality is that it is targeting densely populated civilian areas where civilian casualties are inevitable. The political rationale appears to be that the deaths of innocents are a price worth paying for taking out members of the Palestinian resistance.

The attacks on Gaza can also be seen as collective punishment on the inhabitants of the occupied territory whose dominant ruling faction Hamas is accused by Israel of being behind the killings of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Hamas has consistently denied the allegations.

Both the targeting of civilian areas and collective punishment are war crimes. Even the killing of suspected Palestinian resistance leaders and fighters amounts to extra-judicial kiiling which is forbidden under international law.

Israel's continuing isolation of Gaza and the imposition of restrictions on the flow of goods and capital into the region also constitutes collective punishment. The stranglehold has tightened since Hamas and Fatah signed a unity deal to form a joint government last month. This includes the freezing of salaries for 40,000 civil servants, an action that has plunged thousands of families into more hardship. Israel also continues to block the free entry of food and vital medical equipment and supplies into Gaza.

IHRC is concerned at the muted international response to Israel's latest onslaught, in particular by the US and UK, and calls on the United Nations to immediately convene an emergency session to consider imposing meaningful sanctions.

IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: "The pathetic responses from western governments and their silence over the killings can only mean they are colluding in Israeli war crimes. Their stance is making these war crimes possible, and under the Geneva Convention anyone who creates an environment in which this happens are themselves culpable under international law".

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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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