Today, the UN Human Rights Council was briefed on and discussed the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on the Gaza Conflict, which documented the grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed in Gaza and southern Israel in 2014.
Our organisations  urge States and international organisations to implement the recommendations of the CoI’s report in order to prevent the repetition of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza and ensure accountability for these crimes.
"The Commission of Inquiry underlined the unprecedented scale of devastation during the 2014 Gaza conflict. We second its confirmation that crimes, that amount to war crimes, were committed,” said our organisations. “We condemn all violations of international law committed and described by the CoI’s report. However, the reality on the ground is that there is an occupation and a structural imbalance of forces. The difference in scale of the violations committed and casualties suffered remains stark,” our organisations added.
In its report, “Trapped and Punished,” FIDH documented, in addition to war crimes, what may amount to crimes against humanity. According to the report, the Palestinian population was deprived of its means of subsistence through damage and destruction wrought upon electricity and water infrastructure, as well as its economic and agricultural assets. The damage was systematic and an integral part of State policy before “Operation Protective Edge” and reinforced thereafter.
"As noted by the Commission, the blockade on the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel created a tremendous sense of entrapment for the population, who could neither exit nor flee during the conflict. The implications of the blockade, coupled with the denial of any legal recourse over the years, amounts to the persistent persecution of the civilian population. We agree that it is crucial that the consequences of the prolonged occupation be concrectely addressed," said our organisations.
FIDH member organisations, both Israeli and Palestinian, have long emphasized the lack of existing national accountability mechanisms and the absolute impunity surrounding these crimes in both countries. We have underlined the consequent need for international accountability mechanisms in order to end impunity, including that enjoyed by leaders of the Israeli political and military establishment.
“In the face of ongoing impunity for international crimes committed during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we reiterate the Commission’s call to all States to cooperate with the International Criminal Court and contribute to its ongoing preliminary examination of the Palestine situation. We also call upon States to effectively meet their obligations to initiate genuine proceedings against alleged perpetrators, on the basis of their extraterritorial jurisdiction,” added our organisations.
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) should also ensure the follow-up of the CoI report through the establishment of a mechanism to ensure the implementation of its findings and recommendations. Our organisations call upon the HRC to adopt a resolution at its 29th regular session that focuses on ways to achieve accountability, non-repetition, and access to justice and redress for victims of international crimes. The HRC should conduct a comprehensive review of the implementation of the recommendations addressed to the parties.
The CoI documented the deaths of 1,483 Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, one third of them children. In addition, 27 Palestinians in the West Bank died, along with six Israeli civilians and 67 Israeli soldiers. The report also documented a widespread and systematic pattern of destruction of civilian property and infrastructure in Gaza, that "may have constituted military tactics reflective of a broader policy, approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest levels of the Government of Israel." Due to the blockade imposed by Israel since 2007, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could not exit nor flee.
FIDH documented the impact of "Operation Protective Edge" during an investigative mission conducted in Gaza in October 2014 and published a report in March 2015 that was submitted to the CoI. FIDH documented elements required for qualifying alleged acts committed in Gaza by the Israeli army as both crimes against humanity and war crimes. FIDH documented evidence of alleged acts of murder, both indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians and civilian property, the destruction of life-sustaining civilian infrastructure, the targeting of search and rescue missions and of humanitarian vehicles and facilities, the forcible displacement of civilians from residences and neighbourhoods through both bombing campaigns and inconsistent and ineffective warnings, the imposition of harsh living conditions, causing fear, distress and humiliation throughout the population of Gaza.
 FIDH, Al Haq, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights