Thursday, January 15, 2009

Growing calls for investigations and accountability in Gaza conflict

Philip Luther of Amnesty International explains the human rights issues in the Israel/Gaza conflict

© Amnesty International

© APGraphicsBank">Smoke rises during Israeli airstrike, Gaza City, 13 January 2009

Smoke rises during Israeli airstrike, Gaza City, 13 January 2009

© APGraphicsBank

Amnesty International, 14 January 2009

As evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity mounts daily in Gaza, there are growing calls for an investigation into the conduct of all parties to the conflict.

Amnesty International has urged all parties to the Gaza conflict, as well as the international community, to ensure that a thorough, independent and impartial investigation is established without delay into abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, and to ensure full accountability.

These include Israeli attacks that have been directed at civilians or civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip, or which are disproportionate, and Palestinian armed groups' indiscriminate rocket attacks into civilian population centres in southern Israel.

Where appropriate, states must be ready to initiate criminal investigations and carry out prosecutions before their own courts if the evidence warrants it.

The Israeli army’s attacks are often disproportionate and have killed hundreds of unarmed civilians. Attacks are also directed at civilians and civilian buildings.

Most of the civilian population in Gaza has no access to the humanitarian aid on which they depend. They have nowhere to go for safety, while hospitals are overstretched and lacking basic necessities.

Meanwhile, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups persist in firing indiscriminate rockets into Israel.

Amnesty International has called on Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups to immediately cease all attacks on civilians and disproportionate attacks which harm civilians.

According to Amnesty International:
  • All parties should abide by a humanitarian truce – the current lull in fighting of three hours a day is grossly insufficient and anyway has not been fully respected in practice – so as to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza and to be distributed to the civilian population.
  • Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups must also respect the role of medical personnel and ambulances in assisting the wounded. The Israeli authorities should allow the free movement of ambulances to collect the wounded and the dead at all times. Israel must also permit immediate and unfettered access for humanitarian workers, human rights workers and journalists.
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