Gaza: Alkarama urges UN Human Rights Chief to ask Security Council to refer situation to the ICC

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On 6 August 2014, Alkarama called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay to ask the United Nations Security Council to refer the war crimes committed in Gaza by the Israeli Defence Forces to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Since the launch of Israel's 'Operation Protective Edge', the Palestinian death toll has risen to over 1,700 people, over 70% of which are civilians, including 377 children and 196 women, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Over 9,000 people have also been wounded and more than 10,000 civilian infrastructures destroyed, including hospitals, schools and residential buildings, states the Israeli daily, Haaretz. In comparison, Israeli casualties amount to 67, including 64 soldiers, two civilian victims and one foreign national.

"As High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Pillay has a moral responsibility to expose and address situations where it is clear that serious crimes against human rights are committed, and has the duty to make every effort, not only to put an end to the massive human rights violations, but also and above all to ensure that they are not repeated in the future," explains Mourad Dhina, Executive Director at Alkarama.

Israel, as the occupying power, is responsible for ensuring the safety of the occupied population and therefore to do its utmost to avoid civilian casualties. However, the number of victims in what is the most densely populated area in the world shows the clear absence of precaution in the choice of methods of attacks. This is a blatant violation of two essential principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) – the principle of discrimination between civilians and combatants, and the principle of proportionality in relation to the direct military advantage anticipated. Not abiding by these principles makes the state of Israel responsible for war crimes.

"The absence of an efficient and independent Israeli mechanism to conduct inquiries into the death of hundreds of innocent civilians makes the case for the referral of the situation to the ICC all the more compelling, particularly considering that the essence of the Court is to bring justice when a state has proven unable or unwilling to do so," explains Inès Osman, Alkarama's Regional Coordinator for the Mashreq.

"Ms Pillay is not bound by an obligation of results but an obligation of means, whatever the likely outcome of her approach. In the past, Ms Pillay has managed to convince the Security Council to refer a similar situation to the ICC, as for Libya. Any other party or State who encourages and perpetuates these violations clearly engages its moral responsibility before History," concludes Rachid Mesli, Legal Director at Alkarama, hoping that the Security Council will meet urgently and issue a resolution around the situation in the OPTs.

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