International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

UN Investigates Atrocity Crimes during the Gaza War

The UN recently released the summary of a private report on their inquiry into atrocities committed in Gaza during the war between Israel and Palestine, and have blamed Israeli forces for seven attacks on UN schools in Gaza that were used for shelter by Palestinians. These attacks left at least 44 Palestinians dead and many hundreds injured when they sought refuge at the UN sites. However, the UN inquiry also revealed that Palestinian forces also likely fired on Israeli forces from these sites as evidenced by weaponry discovered at three empty schools. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the violence on both sides, calling it deplorable and unacceptable. Civilians in Gaza have borne the brunt of the violent conflict, which has left 2,200 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and 72 Israelis (66 of whom were soldiers) dead since 2014. The widespread violence done to civilians in Gaza, recognized by the UN in this new report, indicates that the level of violence and atrocity in Gaza ought to elicit a reaction from the international community.

Commenting upon the UN report, Ban emphasized the fact that the report had no legal impact and that the task of the report was not to address the full scope of issues surrounding the Gaza conflict. However, the implications of this report might very likely be considered by the ICC as they pursue a preliminary investigation into atrocity crimes in Gaza.


2 responses to “UN Investigates Atrocity Crimes during the Gaza War

  1. claregeyer April 30, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Since its beginning in 2014, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has reached the global stage in a relatively unparalleled fashion. With the widespread violence erupting seemingly out of nowhere, people across the globe have been questioning how the international community will respond. Outside of the possibilities of atrocities committed within the country, which is an aspect of the conflict that the ICC could potentially decide to investigate and prosecute, the conflict is also marked by what could be construed as an inability, or an unwillingness, by the governments of both regions to protect their civilians. This, in comparison, is an aspect of the conflict that could fall under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, and the Responsibility to Protect. RtoP looks at genocide and mass atrocities, and the role that the state has played (or failed to play) in preventing these crimes.

    I think that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is definitely a candidate for RtoP intervention. Given the number of casualties on each side of the conflict, especially in Palestine, the UN could make the case that the governments of each state involved lacked the will or the means to intervene before civilians were killed by the conflict.

  2. chquinn May 1, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    The Israeli and Palestinian conflict has created a global debate involving the United Nations and many global powers. The debate itself has become extremely prevalent on Bowdoin’s campus involving criticisms for both sides. When addressing the issue of justice within the conflict many arguments come into play. The array of complications involved in the conflict has made it hard for the United Nations and the ICC to address the atrocities committed by both governments. As mentioned above by oconnorg, the UN Security Council has recently released a report on the atrocities committed in the Gaza strip in an attempt to create accountability and awareness. Although both sides have committed war crimes against one another, Israel has taken the brunt of the criticisms, as it is the greater power and has caused greater casualties. Due to this it is no surprise that the international community is calling upon the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israel. But is this case plausible in the long run? We have learned throughout the semester that the ICC has had trouble executing investigations when global powers are involved. Countries like Russia and China have single handedly undermined the court regarding atrocities committed in Ukraine, Syria, and many other states involving proxy wars. The Israeli Palestinian conflict is in a similar situation with the United States undermining international bodies. The fact that “Washington has viewed Israel as a crucial political and economic ally in the oil-rich Middle East, and has provided Israel with the highest amount of financial and military assistance of any other foreign country,” proves that the United States will do what it takes to prevent the UN or the ICC from prosecuting Israel. It comes as no surprise that the, “the US have strongly criticized the Palestinians’ decision to join international bodies, including the ICC, saying it undermines chances for a negotiated peace deal.” The fact that the United States is working to prevent the UN’s involvement not only undermines the UN but also is a huge issue for international justice when involving world powers. Obviously the United States believes that they are best suited to facilitate peace agreements in Israel but can the US be trusted when we are so invested in Israeli interests? Will the UN and ICC continue to bow down when in conflicts involving super powers?

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