This past December 27th marked the second year anniversary of the Israeli air strikes over the Gaza Strip that killed and injured hundreds, including over 300 children as the initial attacks took place as children were leaving school.
More Palestinians were killed in that one day than in all 60 years of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories; it also was the first day of 22 long, torturous days of death and destruction.
Over 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel – three of the Israelis and the majority of the Palestinian fatalities were civilians. In September 2009, a UN-mandated Fact-Finding Mission (UN FFM) led by Justice Richard Goldstone published its findings that found both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups had committed grave violations of international law, including war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the conflict. The report recommended that the relevant authorities should investigate the crimes it identified and that, if they failed to do so, the UN Security Council should refer the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
It’s been two years since the ceasefires and almost one-and-a-half years since Justice Goldstone presented the findings of the UN FFM. Both Palestinians and Israelis deserve accountability, justice and reparations and it’s time for the international justice process to be allowed to continue.
An independent Committee of Experts, appointed to analyse the investigations by both Israel and Hamas, the de facto administration in Gaza, came to the same conclusion as Amnesty International – the government of Israel and Hamas have both failed to conduct investigations that are credible, independent and in conformity with international law, or to demonstrate a commitment to prosecuting the perpetrators of violations.
The Human Rights Council has failed the victims of the Gaza Conflict by continuing to extend the deadline on the domestic investigations and stalling the process.
Amnesty International continues to call for an international justice solution for all victims of this conflict. The political will of many of the states in the Human Rights Council is just not there – yet. It will take a united effort by concerned citizens of the world to let their governments know that they stand with the victims and ‘Demand Justice Now’. Get involved and make a difference. Take action. Sign the AI petition that targets the Human Rights Council and/or send an email or letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to not block these efforts, but support a resolution that will advance international justice for all victims of this tragedy.
January 27, UPDATE: On January 26, 2011, Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom aired an exclusive interview with three Israeli soldiers who say they were ordered to ‘cleanse’ neighborhoods and that the IDF was going into the Gaza Strip intentionally using ‘disproportionate’ force. The news website article states, “… this is the first time Israeli soldiers have come forward publicly with claims that counter those of their bosses.” See interview clip here: