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Human Shields = UN War Crimes
teamjij
Monday 28/02/2022

Jerusalem Institute of Justice- Submission to The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East  Jerusalem, and Israel

 

Dear Honorable Commission,

We, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, are a not-for-profit human rights organization, with Special Consultative Status at the UN Economic and Social Council, fighting to promote human rights, defend democracy, and improve the overall quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Due to our hope of ever-lasting peace in the region, we find it of the utmost importance to address your call for submissions of relevant information and documentation to the mandate of the Commission.

The attached report concerning Hamas’s actions during Protective Edge Operation (the 2014 Gaza war) was filed by our organization at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on the 6th of March 2017. We argued that a full investigation of crimes committed within the Palestinian territories should be pursued, and a case should be lodged, against Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political wing of Hamas, for his role in the commission of war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war. Following this communication, and others, an investigation of the “Situation in Palestine” was commenced by the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC on the 3rd of March 2021. The submission of this report is in accordance with the COI’s mandate to collect evidence and information of abuses of international human rights law and identify those responsible.

There were two primary war crimes committed by Hamas militants during the war within the Gaza strip. First, they consistently used civilians for military protection and purposes, placing the Gazan population in grave danger as “human shields.” This was done by firing rockets and mortars from densely populated areas, by encouraging (and sometimes forcing) civilians to remain in potential military targets, and by storing rockets in schools, hospitals, mosques, and other civilian structures. Second, the rockets Hamas used during the war are inherently indiscriminate under international law, and were therefore unlawful to use. These rockets are unable to be controlled, and therefore could not accurately be fired at lawful military targets.

These heinous crimes reoccurred during the most recent Gaza conflict in May 2021– Hamas fired more than 4,360 rockets and mortars from residential areas. Of those, approximately 680 misfired and fell into the Gaza Strip, killing Palestinians and damaging Palestinian property, and 3,570 of the remaining rockets struck Israeli towns and cities. Thirteen Israelis were killed, and hundreds were injured. These war crimes are also considered criminal activity pursuant to Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – “War Crime of Using Protected Persons as Shields”.

We urge the commission to look into these violations of Human Rights committed by Hamas and include them in their report due to be presented in the Human Rights Council’s June regular session.

 

Yours sincerely,

Flavia Sevald, CEO,

Jerusalem Institute of Justice,

 

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