U.N. Gaza war report finds possible ‘war crimes’ by both Hamas and Israel

The U.N. flag. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) A United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report on last summer’s Gaza war found that both Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas committed “serious violations of international humanitarian law” that “may amount to war crimes.”

While the report, headed by former New York Supreme Court judge Mary McGowan Davis, placed blame on both sides, it focused heavily on Israel’s conduct during the military campaign, saying that “impunity prevails across the board” for Israel. It blamed the Jewish state for killing 1,462 of the total 2,251 Palestinians who died in the conflict—65 percent. A separate Israeli inquiry found that only 56 percent of the Palestinians killed were civilians. 

The U.N. report questioned why residential buildings in Gaza were not “immune from attack” and were “considered to be legitimate military objectives” by Israel, and said the “onus is on Israel” to explain its methods.

But the report also heavily criticized Hamas for its “indiscriminate” targeting of Israeli civilians with rockets, which “may amount to a war crime.”

“The hostilities also caused immense distress and disruption to the lives of civilians in Israel,” the report said, adding that 14 Hamas tunnels running from Gaza into Israel “traumatized Israeli civilians” who “fear they could be attacked at any moment by gunmen bursting out of the ground.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the report “biased,” adding that the U.N. “condemns Israel more than Iran, Syria, and North Korea combined.”

“Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel is defending itself from a murderous terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and which has perpetrated many war crimes. Any country that wants to live would have acted this way,” Netanyahu said.

The watchdog group NGO Monitor said the report differed both “substantially and methodically” from previous U.N. reports on Gaza conflicts, such as the widely criticized 2009 Goldstone Report. But the latest report “still quotes extensively from biased and unreliable political advocacy NGOs,” NGO Monitor said, referring to groups such as Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

“The UNHRC report would be entirely different without the baseless and unverifiable allegations of non-governmental organizations,” said Anne Herzberg, legal advisor at NGO Monitor.

Posted on June 22, 2015 .