On 22 June, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) released the findings of its commission of inquiry into alleged war crimes during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza. Comprised of U.S. jurist Mary McGowan Davis and Senegalese legal expert Doudou Diène, the commission gathered information and testimonies “pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups.”
During the investigation, Israeli officials had condemned the commission as biased, and refused to cooperate or allow the commission entry to the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Rather, the Israeli government undertook its own series of investigations, all of which exonerated its military from war crimes in Gaza (see Doc. C1). Hamas similarly refused to provide the commission with any requested information. Both Israel and Hamas criticized the report, with the latter arguing that the report “equates the Israeli executioner with the Palestinian victim” (see Doc. B1) and Netanyahu accusing the commission of “inciting and agitating against Israel.”
The report tallies more than 6,000 Israeli airstrikes and around 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired between 7 July and 26 August 2014, arguing that Israel’s use of heavy artillery in densely populated areas increased the likelihood of killing civilians indiscriminately. The commission concludes that continued impunity for violations of international law by both parties will only perpetuate the conflict and lead to more war crimes, as demonstrated by Israel’s recurring assaults on Gaza. Thus, its main recommendation is for both sides to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine since the court is regarded as one of the most neutral international organizations.
On 3 July, the UNHRC voted 41–1 with five abstentions to endorse the report and implement all recommendations, which are presented below. (The U.S. voted against, and India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay, and Macedonia abstained.) The full report is available at www.ohchr.org.
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