UNHRC report claims both IDF and Hamas may have committed war crimes

Netanyahu blasts reports, calls on MK’s to remain silent following its release; Israeli FM states report effort to “vilify the State of Israel and the IDF with the ultimate aim of undermining Israel’s right to defend its citizens from attack; Hamas rejects report’s claims on Hamas

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The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry of its Human Right’s Council has released its report on Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The 200-page report was published in Geneva and claims that both Hamas and Israel many have committed war crimes.

According to the UNHCR, “The commission was able to gather substantial information pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups… In some cases, these violations may amount to war crimes.”

The release of the report comes just before Israel is to present its own government-sanctioned report to the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 28. The Council has already been provided with a copy of Israel’s report.

On rocket attacks on the State of Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the report stated that “The absence of any possible military advantage resulting from rockets that cannot be directed at a military objective, coupled with statements by Palestinian armed groups, strongly suggest that the primary purpose of the rocket attacks was to spread terror among the civilian population, in violation of international humanitarian law.”

On possible war crimes by the State of Israel, the report claims that “Given the absence of information suggesting that the anticipated military advantage at the time of the attack was such that the expected civilian casualties and damage to the targeted and surrounding buildings were not excessive, there are strong indications that these attacks could be disproportionate, and therefore amount to a war crime.” The report states that despite the IDF’s consistent measures to avoid civilian casualties “in many incidents, however, the weapons used, the timing of attacks, and the fact that the targets were located in densely populated areas indicate that the Israel Defense Forces may not have done everything feasible to avoid or limit civilian casualties.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to the report, however addressed Israeli Knesset (Parliament) members telling them to not respond to the report. He reiterated on accusations and conclusions that Israel committed war crimes that, “Israel does not commit war crimes but defends itself against a terror organization calling for its destruction. We will not sit idly by, but continue to act with force and determination, and in accordance with international law.” He stated that UNHCR “spends more time condemning Israel than Iran, Syria and North Korea put together.”

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely accused the report as an attempt to “vilify the State of Israel and the IDF with the ultimate aim of undermining Israel’s right to defend its citizens from attack.” She stated that the Council is “a body which has completely discredited itself through its obsessive and prejudicial preoccupation with Israel, whilst turning a blind eye to genuine violations of human rights around the world.”

She emphasised that the IDF did all it could to avoid civilian casualties as best it could, despite the use of human shields and civilian building and locations for rocket storage and launching by Hamas. She stated that, “The measures Israel took during the Gaza Conflict to protect the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians are without parallel among other military forces. Israel is exceptionally proud of its principled conduct and will maintain its unswerving commitment to human rights and international law, irrespective of the well-orchestrated campaign to besmirch its name.”

Hamas rejected the reports claims on Hamas, spokesman for the terrorist organization, Fawzi Barhum, stating that Hamas “welcomes the report’s condemnation of the Zionist occupier for its war crimes during the last war against Gaza”.

An official statement from Hamas was released just hours after the report was published. It stated: This clear condemnation of Israel obligates bringing its leaders to the International Criminal Court and other international courts and put them on trial for the crimes they committed against our people. We stress it is important to set boundaries to Israel and stop the siege and the continuous Zionist aggression against our people and our land.