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UN Independent Commission of Inquiry’s report accusing Israel of possible war crimes against Gaza

February 28th 2019

In a report published on February 28th, UN investigators stressed a disproportionate use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters along the border and conclude that the Israeli response to protests in Palestinians in Gaza last year is akin to "war crimes or crimes against humanity".

According to the commission, which investigated possible violations in the Gaza strip between March 30th  and December 31st  last year, these demonstrations were “civilian in nature” and that there are  “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognizable as such." According to investigators, “More than 6,000 unarmed demonstrators were shot by military snipers, week after week at the protest sites”. At least 251 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 2018, the majority shot during weekly border protests and others hit by tank fire or air strikes. Two Israeli soldiers were killed during the same period.

In Geneva, Santiago Canton, the chair of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, explained that international human rights law was applicable to these demonstrations because the investigation had shown that "an overwhelming majority of protesters were unarmed, even if they were not always peaceful ". The commission also recommends that the authorities in the Gaza Strip stop using "kites and balloons with incendiary devices," sending them to Israel as one aspect of the broad Palestinian mobilization.

The commission will present a more detailed report on 18 March to the Human Rights Council. It has also created a "confidential file" of alleged perpetrators and invites the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to share it with the International Criminal Court. The investigators also recommend the establishment of international sanctions against these individuals.