PNN / Bethlehem
The United Nations investigators said on Monday that Israel, alongside Palestinian resistance militant groups “committed grave abuses” of international humanitarian law during the 2014 Gaza attack that may amount to war crimes.
In an official statement, PLO Executive Committee member, Dr. Saeb Erekat said that Palestine will review the findings and recommendations of the Commission with the highest consideration, in line with its staunch commitment to ensuring respect for these esteemed bodies of international law.
“As we begin to do so, we urge the international community to recall that the only true path to peace lies in ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, and in ending crime and the impunity with which it continues to be perpetrated against our people,” Erekat added.
In a report after a year-long inquiry, they called on Israel to explain its “targeting decisions” to allow independent assessment of its attacks on the Gaza Strip, where they said 1,462 civilians were killed and thousands of homes destroyed, Reuters news agency reports.
The independent investigators, led by American Mary McGowan Davis, also condemned what they found were executions of alleged Palestinian “collaborators” with Israel by militants in Gaza, saying these killings appeared to constitute war crimes.
A ceasefire last August ended 50 days of fighting between Gaza militants and Israel in which health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.
Israeli air strikes and shelling hammered the densely-populated enclave dominated by the Islamist Hamas movement, causing widespread destruction of homes and schools. For their part, Gaza militants fired thousands of rockets and mortar bombs into Israel.
Both sides have denied violating the laws of war in the conflict.
“The commission was able to gather substantial information pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups. In some cases, these violations may amount to war crimes,” the United Nations report said according to Reuters.
Israel last week, in response to the announcement that the UN will investigate war crimes in Gaza, issued its own report which was prepared by Israel’s Foreign and Justice Ministries in collaboration with the military and the National Security Council.
Spokesman Bseiso criticized the report saying “Israel’s decision to deny having targeted civilians in Gaza is the logical extension of what it did in the Gaza Strip.”
Bseiso said the one-sided report will not be accepted by Palestine. Instead, the authorities are awaiting the results of the upcoming U.N. Human Rights Council report on June 29.