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UN report urges accountability for war crimes against Palestinian children
Mary McGowan Davis, chair of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, looks on prior to addressing a Human Rights Council session on March 23, 2015.
Ramallah, June 29, 2015—An independent United Nations commission presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, detailing international law violations during Israel’s military offensive on Gaza last summer.
The report, presented by Mary McGowan Davis, commissioner of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, painstakingly details the degree to which Palestinian children were “savagely affected” by Israel’s military assault on Gaza.
The report highlights violations by Israeli forces, including indiscriminate attacks against civilians and unlawful airstrikes on residential buildings, as well as violations by Palestinian armed groups.
“We welcome the commission’s findings, but concrete action must be taken to challenge the status quo of systemic impunity for international law violations committed by Israeli forces,” said Khaled Quzmar, DCIP’s general director. “Without accountability, Palestinian children will continue to bear the brunt of Israeli military offensives and prolonged military occupation.”
Specific cases examined by the commission in the full report include, among others, the killing of four boys on a Gaza City beach by Israeli missiles and the use of a Palestinian teen as a human shield by Israeli forces. Zakariya Ahed Subhi Baker, 10, Ahed Atef Ahed Baker, 9, Ismail Mohammad Subhi Baker, 9, and Mohammad Ramez Ezzat Baker, 11, were cousins from fishermen families, and had been playing on a Gaza City beach when two missiles hit them just after 4 p.m. on July 16, 2014. Israeli soldiers repeatedly used Ahmad Abu Raida, 17, as a human shield for five days while he was detained during Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The report also highlighted the unlawful killing of Hashem Khader Abu Maria, 45, coordinator of DCIP’s community mobilization unit. Israeli forces shot Hashem in the chest with live ammunition as he stood at a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza on July 25, 2014, in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar. The commission found that Hashem did not present any “direct or imminent threat” to Israeli forces or any other persons.
Following the report presentation, DCIP delivered an oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council, urging UN member states to demand that Israel ends its prolonged military occupation of Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip. DCIP also called on all UN member states to actively support and ensure the full and immediate implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict.
The UN Human Rights Council, composed of 47 UN member states, is responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights. The Council meets three times per year and regularly addresses the situation of Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In July 2014, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution establishing the independent commission to investigate alleged violations of international law during Israel’s July-August military assault on Gaza.