The list of war crimes committed with impunity by Israel against Gaza and throughout the West Bank continues to grow following Israel’s recent incremental genocide on Gaza, in which 2,168 Palestinians were murdered, leaving Gaza catastrophically devastated. Israeli Occupational Forces are killing Palestinian civilians—including children—with cruel disregard for human life. Investigative reports released by renowned international human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, collected irrefutable empirical evidence of war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians.
The long history of the United States flexing its veto power to shield Israel from any glimpse of accountability for war crimes committed, likely suggests that Israel will once again walk away unscathed; regardless of international pressures to hold Israel accountable for war crimes committed between July 7 and August 26, during “Operation Protective Edge”—Israel’s 50-day long aggression of death and destruction inflicted against Gaza’s besieged 1.8 million Palestinians, locked in what is commonly described as an “open-air prison”.
There will likely be no justice for the 1,666 civilians murdered, including 521 children and 297 women in Israel’s last genocidal increment; just like there was no justice for the massacre of 16,000 civilians in Lebanon in the summer of 1982, and the murderous rampage of over 100 civilians, mostly children seeking shelter in a UNIFIL base in Qana in 1996. The uninterrupted streak of Israeli impunity must be broken; the murder of innocent civilians constitutes a war crime and must be investigated and prosecuted as such. In fact, every time Israel murders an unarmed Palestinian they commit a war crime.
Adding to the stockpile of evidence of war crimes committed by Israeli Forces, international human rights organizations have documented evidence of widespread violations of the laws of war committed by the Israeli military during “Operation Protective Edge”, including:
1. The reckless and disproportionate use of deadly force in densely populated urban areas.
- The Israeli military employs a strategy known as the Dahiya Doctrine, which calls for the systematic use of massive and disproportionate force, including against civilian targets, in order to defeat and deter enemies.
- July 30, Amnesty International issued a statement condemning an attack on a UN school in Jabalia that killed at least 17 civilians sheltering from the violence.
- Israeli forces destroyed entire neighborhoods in areas such as Shejaiya in central Gaza, Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, and Khozaa, and flattened high-rise residential buildings and shopping centers. (See here for video of Beit Hanoun being destroyed.)
- On July 20, the Israeli military launched a bloody assault against the residential neighborhood of Shejaiya in Gaza City following the apparent capture of a soldier by Palestinian fighters, killing more than 66 people including at least 17 children, 14 women and four elderly people. In the space of less than an hour, the Israeli army fired more than 600 artillery shells into Shejaiya.
- On August 1, the Israeli military killed between 130 and 150 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in Rafah in southern Gaza, after Palestinian fighters reportedly took an Israeli soldier as a prisoner of war. During the assault, Israeli forces fired more than 1000 artillery shells in the space of three hours.
- On July 23, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, expressed deep concern over possible Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza, telling a special session of the UN Human Rights Council:
“The targeting of civilian homes is a violation of international humanitarian law, … A number of incidents, along with the high number of civilian deaths, belie the claim that all necessary precautions are being taken….”
2. Attacks on medical facilities and workers and UN schools sheltering displaced civilians.
On at least seven different occasions, the Israeli military attacked UN schools sheltering displaced civilians, killing approximately 43 people and wounding hundreds more in three of the incidents. On August 3, 2014, in a sadistic display of barbarism, an Israeli missile strike outside of a UN school in Rafah in southern Gaza killed at least 10civilians, including at least one child, and wounded dozens of others. Condemning the attack, UN officials said that they had informed the Israeli military of the exact GPS coordinates of the school, where approximately 3000 Palestinians were taking shelter, 33 times in an attempt to prevent it from being bombed, the final time just an hour before the attack.
3. Attacks on civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure
- At least 24 medical facilities were damaged and at least 16 health care workers were reportedly killed in Israeli attacks.
- On July 16, Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled “Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians: Bombings of Civilian Structures Suggest Illegal Policy,”
Even at a glance, it’s plain to see that war crimes are simply a part of Israeli military practices. These are not isolated incidents; they are a practice of Israeli military protocol, reinforced by the Israeli authorities complete failure to prosecute the perpetrators of these atrocities.
According to the information provided by the MAG Corps, only three investigations ended with indictments:
- One indictment was served against a soldier for theft of a Palestinian’s credit card. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, half of the term as a suspended sentence, and demotion.
- A second indictment was served against two soldiers accused of using a nine-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield and ordering him to open suspected booby-trapped bags. The two were tried and sentenced to three months in prison and demotion from staff sergeant to sergeant.
- A third indictment was served against a soldier for “killing an unidentified individual” and for misconduct. The soldier was convicted of unlawful use of firearms and misconduct in a plea bargain. He was given a 45-day prison sentence, a six-month suspended prison sentence and demotion.
The vile war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians is not a thing of the past; it’s ongoing since the forced inception of the Jewish state. The Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) did not happen in 1948, it began years before, and still persists today. Just yesterday, Israeli Occupational Forces in Silwad shot a 41-year-old Palestinian in the head. Many bystanders whom witnessed the grotesque murder, stood around his lifeless body with a bullet lodged into his brain on display.
WARNING: This picture is graphic. Click HERE
These victims are not just statistics. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, and above all humans; humans that bleed the same color as 7 billion others spread across the globe. A degree in international law is not required to conclude that Israel’s institutionalized system of collective punishment and persecution against Palestinian civilians constitutes war crimes. Only the enforcement of international law—holding Israel accountable to the same universal applications of International Humanitarian Law, the Geneva Conventions, and United Nations resolutions—may end Israel’s callous impunity against Palestinian civilians.