U.N. panel says Israel committed war crimes in killing Palestinians during protests last year
According to Reuters, U.N. investigators say that Israel’s security forces may have committed war crimes as well as crimes against humanity when they wounded more than 6,100 Palestinians and killed 189 during protests in Gaza last year.
The U N.’s independent panel relayed that it had confidential information revealing that those responsible for the killings knew that people they killed posed no imminent threat. The panel also said that there are Israeli army snipers and commanders among those responsible, and Israel needs to prosecute them.
“The Israeli security forces killed and maimed Palestinian demonstrators who did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot, nor were they directly participating in hostilities.” The panel said in a statement. They also mentioned that the protests were “civilian in nature.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently battling corruption charges after forming a partnership with a far-right, anti-Arab extremist party, rejected the report and charged the U.N. Human Rights Council who launched the report with “an obsessive hatred for Israel.” It should be noted that this is a common defense used by the country’s leaders, and this kind of argument is the same kind of flattening that morphs any principled critique of Israel into charges of anti-Semitism.
Israel’s defense for their actions is that their forces opened fire in order to protect the border from attacks and incursions by armed Palestinian militants.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas remarked that the findings of the U.N. confirmed that “Israel conducts war crimes against our people in Gaza and the West Bank, including in Jerusalem.” He also called for the International Criminal Court to act immediately and to investigate.
The protests in question began in March of last year, as Gazans demanded Israel ease up on a blockade of an enclave and recognize the right of Gazans to return to the land they had been forced from when Israel was created in 1948.
The panel also discovered 183 of the 189 protesters killed were killed via live ammunition. They found that Israeli civilian and military leadership “apparently permitted live fire at demonstrators as a last resort… and to shoot at the legs of ‘main inciters,’” while noting that Israel’s idea of “main inciters” is inconsistent with international law. The panel’s report—which covered March 30th-December 31st, 2018—was based on hundreds of interviews with witnesses and victims, medical records, video, drone footage, and photographs.