Hoe zal het Nederlandse kabinet reageren op de aanzwellende roep om onafhankelijk onderzoek naar de beschuldigingen van het begaan van oorlogsmisdaden door de Israelsche krijgsmacht in Gaza? Uiteraard zouden bij zo’n onderzoek ook de mogelijke inbreuken op internationaal recht door Hamas onder de loupe moeten worden genomen.
The Guardian has compiled detailed evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier this year, involving the use of Palestinian children as human shields and the targeting of medics and hospitals.
A month-long investigation also obtained evidence of civilians being hit by fire from unmanned drone aircraft said to be so accurate that their operators can tell the colour of the clothes worn by a target.
The testimonies form the basis of three Guardian films which add weight to calls this week for a full inquiry into the events surrounding Operation Cast Lead, which was aimed at Hamas but left about 1,400 Palestinians dead, including more than 300 children.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) refused to respond directly to the allegations made against its troops, but issued statements denying the charges and insisted international law had been observed.
The latest disclosures follow soldiers’ evidence published in the Israeli press about the killing of Palestinian civilians and complaints by soldiers involved in the military operation that the rules of engagement were too lax…
Civilians, medics and investigators talk to the Guardian about allegations of war crimes during Israel’s 23-day campaign in Gaza
The evidence of war crimes in Gaza is a challenge to universal justice: will western-backed perpetrators ever stand trial?
Evidence of the scale of Israel’s war crimes in its January onslaught on Gaza is becoming unanswerable. Clancy Chassay’s three films investigating allegations against Israeli forces in the Gaza strip, released by the Guardian today, include important new accounts of the flagrant breaches of the laws of war that marked the three-week campaign now estimated to have left at least 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 13 Israelis dead.
The films provide compelling testimony of Israel’s use of Palestinian teenagers as human shields; the targeting of hospitals, clinics and medical workers, including with phosphorus bombs; and attacks on civilians, including women and children sometimes waving white flags from hunter-killer drones whose targeting systems are so powerful they can identify the colour of a person’s clothes.
Naturally, the Israeli occupation forces’ spokesperson insists to Chassay that they make every effort to avoid killing civilians and denies using human shields or targeting medical workers while at the same time explaining that medics in war zones "take the risk upon themselves". By banning journalists from entering Gaza during its punitive devastation of the strip, the Israeli government avoided independent investigations of the stream of war crimes accusations while the attack was going on.
But now journalists and human rights organisations are back inside, doing the painstaking work, the question is whether Israel’s government and military commanders will be held to account for what they unleashed on the Palestinians of Gaza or whether, like their US and British sponsors in Iraq and Afghanistan, they can carry out war crimes with impunity…
There is of course no chance that the UN security council will authorise the kind of International Criminal Court war crimes indictment now faced by Sudan’s leaders over Darfur. Any such move would certainly be vetoed by the US and its allies. And Israel’s own courts have had no trouble in the past batting away serious legal challenges to its army’s atrocities in the occupied territories. But the use of universal jurisdiction in countries such as Spain or even Britain is making Israeli commanders increasingly jumpy about travelling abroad.
With such powerful evidence of violations of the rules of war now emerging from the rubble of Gaza, the test must be this: is the developing system of international accountability for war crimes only going to apply to the west’s enemies or can the western powers and their closest allies also be brought to book?