PRESS STATEMENT: UN report of Israeli war crimes in Gaza "devastating"
23 July 2015

The United Nations Human Rights Council report which was released on Monday covering last year’s Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Gaza Strip is devastating. As we read the figures in the UN Report of those Palestinians killed by Israel we are haunted by the cost of human life due to Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian Gaza. Mostly we weep, yet again, for the over 550 Palestinian children that Israel killed. The chair of the UN investigation commission, Justice Mary McGowan Davisto has said that: "The extent of the devastation and human suffering in [the Palestinian] Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come”.
The 183-page UN report details how in total over 2251 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children. More than 11000 Palestinians, including 3436 children, were injured with almost 10 percent suffering permanent disabilities. 

Israel conducted, according to the UN report, 6000 airstrikes on the Palestinian Gaza Strip including, according to the report:  “targeted attacks on residential and other buildings.” These Israeli attacks resulted in 142 Palestinians families having “three or more members killed in the same incident”. The UN report details one of the incidents, at 2 am on 10 July, where Israel attacked the house of Mahmoud al-Haj in Khan Younis. All eight members of the family were killed, including two children and three women.
In another Israeli attack, according to the UN report, on the afternoon of 21 July, Israeli forces fired two missiles at the five-story building of the al-Qassas family, killing nine people, including six children and three women, one of them pregnant. Another 10, mostly children and one a baby, were injured. The UN  investigators could find no information to suggest “that there was a military target in the al-Qassas building”. In fact, according to the UN report: “in many of the cases examined by the commission, as well as in incidents reported by local and international organizations..there is little or no information as to how [Palestinian] residential buildings, which are prima facie civilian objects immune from attack, came to be regarded as legitimate military objectives [by Israel].”

Paragraph 321 of the UN report shockingly describes how Israel used Palestinians as human shields. The UN report details how on the 23rd of July Israeli soldiers separated a 17-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmed Abu Reda, from his family as they were attempting to flee the Israeli violence. According to the report: "The [Isaeli] soldiers kept the boy for five days, during which time he was interrogated repeatedly". The report quotes Ahmed Abu Reda’s father who described to the commission that his son was forced to undertake “risky tasks such as opening doors, inspecting rooms, switching the lights on and off to test whether secret explosives were being connected to the light switches, open fridges and other devices that may have detonated explosions.” The UN report details how: "The boy was also forced to look for tunnels in basements and to sleep with the soldiers at the checkpoint. The soldiers also threatened to unleash their dog on him and forced him to dig for tunnels. Ahmed was also compelled to sleep for four nights between rows of Israeli soldiers."

Israeli supporters who justified last year’s attacks on the Palestinians Gaza Strip claimed that one of the reasons for the Israeli attacks was to destroy tunnels that were allegedly being used to conduct “terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians”. However, the UN report found that the [Palestinian] tunnels "were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets.”

According to the UN investigators Israel refused to respond to any requests for information and barred the UN investigators from traveling to the occupied Palestinian West Bank, Palestinian Gaza Strip or to present-day Israel. We must ask if Israel had nothing to hide why then did they frustrate the UN investigators by barring them access?

The UN report found that six civilians died in Israel and more than 60 Israeli soldiers died in fighting as well certain violations on the part of Palestinian resistance groups. The UN report’s evidence however overwhelming shows that the scale and impact of Israeli violence dwarfs anything allegedly done by Palestinians.

Palestinian author and analyst Ali Abunimah has commented on the UN Report that: "the crimes allegedly committed by Israel [against the Palestinians] are massive compared to anything allegedly done by Palestinians. There can also be no moral equivalence between the legitimate self-defense and resistance of a people [the Palestinains] under occupation and the aggression of an occupier [Israel] whose aim is to subject millions of people to its unopposed military tyranny. It is also apparent that most, though not all, of the transgressions alleged against Palestinians are an artifact of the inferior and unguided weapons, often locally made in Gaza, that are available to resistance groups.” Click here to read the rest of Ali Abunuimah’s analysis of the UN Report as well as to download a copy of the UN report.

BDS South Africa weeps with the peace and justice loving people of world who insist that the killing of any child Palestinian or otherwise is unacceptable. Let's proactively and premptively prevent the next Israeli massacre, let's stop the next Israeli bomb. Let's boycott, divest and impose sanctions (BDS) on Israel till it ends its oppression of the Palestinian people. Let's not bear witness to another Israeli #GazaUnderAttack. We call on all peace and justice loving people of the world to support the non-violent BDS movement and in particular the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. By isolating Israel we can create the necessary conditions for a just peace to be negotiated between Palestinians and Israelis like what happened in South Africa.
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