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No ‘accountability‘ for Gaza crimes one year on

By Zuzana Brezinová - July 08, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza]

Palestinians commemorate the anniversary of Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Strip last summer, which brought the enclave onto the verge of humanitarian crisis with over 100,000 Gazans internally displaced, approximately 18,000 housing units destroyed and majority of the basic infrastructure severely damaged, according to the UN.

Yet, “a year after the war, the criminals have not been held accountable and the blockade has not been lifted,” Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, told the Palestine Monitor.

“Gaza and the entire Palestine is still awaiting the reconstruction of thousands of houses and facilities destroyed or severely damaged by the Israeli army. After, it has become clear that the Conference on Reconstruction of Gaza was nothing but a 'big trick’ and that the Israeli blockade continues and will continue with the same ferocity and audacity as before the aggression,” added Barghouti.

However, the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin told the Times of Israel that Gaza cannot be reconstructed or rehabilitated unless Hamas stops the continuous rocket fire on Southern Israel.

“Israel cannot continue to be held hostage by an enemy that operates in the heart of their civilian population. An enemy that does not respect human rights and scorns international law and democracy.

“We are not a people of war, but [Hamas] forced us to take up arms to defend our borders and our existence. And we will not hesitate to do so again,” concluded Rivlin.

Although, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) latest report on the Gaza War, Hamas is not the only perpetrator in this case and Israel is equally suspected of having committed war crimes and breached international law.

The UNHRC questioned the proportionate use of force by the Israeli military, whose bombing campaign entrained unprecedented damage to Gaza’s residential areas. Moreover, Israeli mortar shells targeted UN shelters, medical facilities and UNRWA schools.

Likewise, the UN officials sharply condemned Hamas for the possible use of civilian facilities, such as schools or residential buildings, for military purposes and criticised the reliance of Palestinian militants on the tunnel system in order to infiltrate Israel.  

“It is a duty of the Criminal Court to launch the investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed by the Israeli leadership and the Israeli army in the shortest time possible. [The investigation] should not stop until all those responsible for the killing of hundreds of children and thousands of civilians, and killing of paramedics and journalist are held accountable,” Dr. Barghouti told Palestine Monitor.

Operation Protective Edge launched on July 7, 2014 and lasted until August 26, 2014. Within 50 days, 2,251 Palestinians, of them 551 children and 299 women, and 67 IDF soldiers and 6 civilians in Israel, died as a result of Israeli bombing campaign and Hamas’ rocket fire.

A year after the outbreak of armed hostilities, Gaza faces a humanitarian crisis. Therefore, easing economic blockade and lifting some restrictions on the movement of people and goods could substantially alleviate the hardship of Gazans and set the ground for a long-term peace in the region, advised a senior IDF official to Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, as Haaretz reported.

 “As long as the basic economic problems in Gaza remain, we will also have the potential for renewed military conflict, without connection to the extent of deterrence achieved in the last war,” the IDF senior official told the newspaper.

The IDF’s spokesman, Lt. Peter Lerner, wrote on the IDF’s official blog that, “Israel has already facilitated the entrance of over 1,300 000 tons of construction material into Gaza,” which is currently used for reconstruction of medical centres, water and sewage facilities, houses and roads.

According to Lerner, the continuous crisis is Hamas’ fault as they chose to invest their finances into terror, rather than the welfare of Gazans.

“Why is Gaza’s money going into terror tunnels instead of schools & hospitals? You should ask Hamas,” reads his recent Tweet.

However, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the OPT (OCHA) reported that the basic construction material such as gravel, steel bars, and cement along with a range of computer equipment, is defined as “dual use” by Israel and its import is therefore significantly restricted.

Consequently, despite the claims of the IDF spokesperson, less than 1 percent of the material necessary to rebuild the facilities destroyed during the war has entered Gaza thus far. This has impeded the reconstruction process and deteriorated the quality of basic services.

In a situation like this, “the best thing that we can offer to the Palestinian people today is the end of the political division [between Fatah and Hamas], and its shameful manifestations, including the recent political arrests, and rather, accelerate the process of achieving the national unity government with a unified leadership that will confront the Occupation,” said Dr. Moustafa Barghouti.


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