UN: Israel responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza

UN: Israel responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza

[JURIST] A UN independent board of inquiry announced Monday that it uncovered evidence that at least 44 Palestinians were killed by “Israeli actions” while sheltering at UN locations during last year’s Gaza war. The investigation also found [AP report] that at least 227 Palestinians were injured. In response to the findings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] stated [UN News Centre report]:

The agony of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and the tragic, decades-long predicament they endure there, is reflected in the report of the Board of Inquiry. We should also bear in mind that Israeli civilians in southern Israel continue to face the threat of rocket and terrorist attacks by Hamas and other militant groups.

Ban also stressed the need for resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and called for international support.

The Israel-Palestine conflict [HRW backgrounder] continues to be a significant international legal issue. Last month the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [official website] released [JURIST report] its 2014 Annual Humanitarian Overview, noting that Palestinian civilians continue to face daily threats to their physical safety and liberty, with 2014 holding the highest civilian death toll in the conflict since the annexation of the Palestinian territories in 1967. Also last month the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights told the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] that human rights violations “fuel and shape the conflict” [JURIST report] in the occupied Palestinian territories. In November the UN Human Rights Council urged Israel to investigate [JURIST report] alleged violations committed by its forces during the recent conflict in Gaza. The 2014 conflict lasted from July 8 to August 26, resulting in more than 100,000 buildings damaged and nearly 2,200 deaths, with a high quantity of civilian casualties. Last year Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] accused the Israeli military of committing war crimes [JURIST report] by attacking schools where hundreds of displaced Palestinians sought shelter. Earlier that month the Israel Law Center [advocacy website] asked the International Criminal Court [official website] to open an investigation [JURIST report] into alleged war crimes committed by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.