Israel's systematic attacks on civilians to be examined by the Russell Tribunal on Palestine
24-25 September – Brussels – Albert Hall, Brussels
For immediate release
Wednesday September 17th
The Russell Tribunal's extraordinary session on Gaza will examine Israeli attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure during 'Operation Protective Edge' in July and August of this year.
Human Rights Watch recently accused Israel of committing war crimes in a report analysing three attacks on schools in Jabalya, Beit Hanoun and Rafah. The attacks killed 45 people, including 17 children.
This is not the first time that a human rights probe has made such claims. United Nations and Amnesty International investigations have also found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
According to the United Nations, 2,131 Palestinians were killed during Israel's last 50 day offensive. Of those 501 were children with about 70 percent aged under 12 according to UNICEF.
In the same period, the Ministry of Health in Gaza recorded 10,918 people injured including 3,312 children and 2,120 women. According to the United Nations, 244 schools were shelled and one used as a military base. According to Al Mezan human rights organisation at least 10,920 houses were damaged or destroyed of which 2,853 were completely destroyed. Furthermore 161 mosques, eight hospitals – resulting in six being taken out of service - 46 NGO 50 fishing boats, and 244 vehicles were also hit.
John Dugard, Professor of International Law and former UN Special Rapporteur to the Occupied Palestinian Territories said:
“In its shelling of houses and apartment blocks believed to be occupied by Hamas militants the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) has shown a callous disregard for what it views as collateral damage, but this collateral damage has often taken the form of the killing and injuring of civilians and the destruction of their property. This failure to distinguish between military targets and civilians constitutes a clear war crime.”
Raji Sourani, Director of the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said: “The civilians have been in the eye of the storm for this entire offensive. Israel has been following the rule of the jungle. This was made possible through the lack of accountability following Cast lead and Pillar of Defence. We need the rule of international law and accountability to end the Israeli occupation which is criminal by its' nature”
Ivan Karakashian, Advocacy Unit Coordinator at DCI-Palestine will be presenting on the use of children as human shields by the Israeli army, including the case of Ahmed Abu Raida, held and used for five days. Ivan said:
"Internal investigations by the Israeli military are neither transparent nor independent, and are certainly not serious. To date, no Israeli official has even contacted Ahmad or his family to obtain information concerning his use as a human shield. In this context, the International Criminal Court and initiatives like the Russell Tribunal on Palestine are vital to push for and deliver justice for Palestinian children."
The Tribunal will hear evidence from experts and witnesses who were on the ground during the attack including British Channel 4 News journalist Paul Mason on the targeting of school shelters, PCHR Director Raji Sourani on the targeting of civilians, surgeons Mads Gilbert and Mohammed Abou-Arab on the attacks on medical facilities and workers, journalist Martin LeJeune on the targeting of industrial zones and factories, and Ashraf Mashharawi on attacks on government energy and waste infrastructure.
Please contact the media team if you would like to interview any of the witnesses or jury members.
Labels: Amnesty International, Brussels, Gaza, Human Rights Watch, IDF, Israel, Israeli Defence Force, Palestine, Russell Tribunal on Palestine, United Nations