Suspects of international crimes should not be shielded from accountability once again!

Press release
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Following the latest Israeli Army offensive on Gaza and the launching of rockets onto civilian areas inside Israel , the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) reiterates its utmost condemnation of targeting or otherwise harming civilian populations. It welcomes the cease-fire concluded on 21st November 2012 and calls for the urgent establishment of an international commission of inquiry into the violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by all parties in the Gaza Strip and Southern Israel, and the prosecution of those responsible of such crimes.

Since the beginning of Operation “Pillars of Defense” by the Israeli Army which ended on November 21st after a dual cease-fire agreement was reached in Cairo by all parties, FIDH member organization in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has documented the deaths of at least 156 Palestinians, including 103 civilians among which 33 children and 13 women. Furthermore, PCHR documented the injury of 971 civilians including 274 children and 162 women.
According to Btselem, a FIDH member organization in Israel, three Israelis were killed in the course of the operation up to the night of November 19th, as a result of rocket fire from Gaza.

The high number of civilian casualties and destruction in the Gaza strip indicates the direct targeting of civilians and the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces, which is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. FIDH reaffirms that the grave human rights violations which may constitute international crimes, should not remain unpunished and those responsible for their perpetration should be duly held accountable.

Victims of the war in 2008 were never rendered any justice, and impunity to this day has prevailed. We must not let history repeat itself. Justice for victims must be the primary goal for the international community declared Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. The international community must push for independent, impartial and prompt investigations into these latest attacks, continued Souhayr Belhassen.

FIDH recalls that in the aftermaths of Operation "Cast lead" conducted by the Israeli army in the Occupied Gaza Strip from 27 December 2008 to 17 January 2009, 1400 Palestinians were killed including 300 children. The report by the international commission of inquiry mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council (“Goldstone report”) concluded that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity during its military operation in the Gaza strip. The report also concluded that there was evidence that Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity, as well, by firing rockets into southern Israel. Both parties were under obligation to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these crimes, however, “Israel’s follow up to the allegations made in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead exposed Israeli’s unwillingness to investigate and prosecute war crimes committed by its army and the higher chain of command, including that of the political echelon”.

In addition, the UN Committee of experts established by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2010 to monitor the domestic investigations and proceedings undertaken by Israel following the Goldstone Report expressed the view that the Israeli military judiciary lacked the necessary structural independence to thouroughly investigate allegations. It found that the investigations carried out were neither sufficiently transparent nor prompt, which impaired the judiciary’s effectiveness and compromised the goal of accountability and justice.

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