Still No Justice for War Crime Victims
by Jim Joyce
Two years ago Israel’s military forces for fifty days wreaked destruction on the Gaza Strip, killing close to 1,500 civilians, more than a third of them children (6 Israeli civilians were killed by rockets fired by the Palestinians.)
Two years later no independent (of those ordering, implementing or advising on the war) investigations of these war crimes have been undertaken by the government of Israel. Some of these attacks clearly targeted civilians, a violation of international humanitarian law. No credible investigations have been done by the Palestinians of their rocket attacks, with some dozen of them having ranges beyond the arc of territory just north of Gaza.
This was the third such war in the past ten years. Each has been more devastating than the previous to the lives and infrastructure of the Palestinians in Gaza. No one has been held accountable for the death of civilians those times either.
Amnesty International, connecting the dots — reports of war crimes and no investigations — fears that the Israeli government has granted its soldiers impunity to continue killing Palestinian civilians.
The next step possible in defence of international law has to be taken, namely an examination of the evidence of war crimes by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [ICC]. This time round, the parties, unable to conduct investigations themselves can at least ensure that evidence on their behalf and from the victims is made available to the Prosecutor. “Two years have passed and it’s high time the wheel of justice started turning”: this is the essence of Amnesty International’s current campaign.
AI has released its briefing Time to Address Impunity to support this possible path to justice. It offers some examples of war crimes drawn from the organization’s previous reports, and testimonies of victims. AI Canada has called upon the Canadian government to press Israeli and Palestinian authorities to co-operate fully with the ICC process. Other AI sections have been calling upon their governments to do the same.
Many other organizations have also issued reports on the Gaza/Israel War of 2014. They all identified war crimes and grave violations of international humanitarian law. Such reports do not make the parties guilty but provide evidence to be judged. Denial of the evidence does not make the perpetrators innocent.
Amnesty International calls upon both the Israelis and Palestinians to be accountable. Without independent, effective, prompt and transparent investigation of war crimes, both sides grant impunity to those killing civilians, ensuring there will another war.