UN Steps In to Investigate Alleged “War Crimes” in Gaza


On July 23, 2014, the United Nations on Human Rights Council decided to launch an independent inquiry to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  In an emergency session, the Council adopted a resolution, which indicated that the investigative team must be sent immediately to the area.  The resolution is accepted by a vote of 29 countries in favor, with 17 abstentions and a sole negative vote by the United States.  Even though the United States voted against the resolution, it strongly condemned Israel for failing to end its prolonged occupation of the area. In the resolution, the Council asked for an immediate action by the Israeli authorities to reopen the occupied Gaza Strip and called upon the international community to provide humanitarian assistance and services to the Palestinian people.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council condemned strongly the “widespread, systematic, and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms.”  The Council also condemned “all violence against civilians wherever it occurred, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of a rocket fire.”

One of the representatives on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay emphasized that children, women, the elderly, and person with disabilities suffer the most.  Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-Wha Kang added that since the Israeli military began the operation, over 600 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and another 3,504 were injured in addition 28 Israelis.  Ms. Kang further emphasized that one third of civilians killed so far are only children, and one child is killed each hour in Gaza during this period.  Both officials focused on how many Palestinian children have lived their entire life under siege.

Ms. Pillay urged Israel, Hamas and all Palestinian armed groups to strictly abide by applicable norms of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  She further pointed out that if these principles are not abided, actions taken from either side may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Finally, she called for a credible and proper research of allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity since there have not been one so far.  Ms. Pillay further detailed all the actions taken or will be taken by the UN on Human Rights Council in light of this ongoing conflict.

These days, the world witnesses yet another bombardment by the Israeli authorities into places where civilians suffer the most. It is a fact that civilians in Gaza have no safe place to go, and they are unable to receive sufficient humanitarian aid.  Because medical facilities and health clinics have been hit by airstrikes, injured people are also unable to receive the necessary medical treatment.  In light of this newly adopted resolution, do you think it will, in any event, deter Israel from continuing the operation?  How effective do you think the resolution will be?  What else could be done for Palestinians, and especially for Palestinian children?



  • UN News Centre (two children stand in front of a house that police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Maghazi refugee camp in Center Gaza Strip).

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