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Joint Oral Intervention at the Human Rights Council 33rd Session

05-10-2016 11:14

Human Rights Council – Session 33

Item 7

General Debate

23 September 2016

Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights

Co-sponsor: Adalah – Legal Center for the Arab Minority Rights in Israel

 

Thank you Mr. President.

 

Concerning Operation Protective Edge, Al Mezan and Adalah filed complaints on 27 incidents of suspected IHL and human rights violations to the Israeli authorities, demanding that they open independent criminal investigations and prosecute those responsible. Al Mezan also filed an additional 107 complaints concerning suspected war crimes.

 

The results show that two years after the Operation, Israel has not opened a single investigation into any of Al Mezan’s 107 complaints; and among Adalah and Al Mezan’s complaints, not a single indictment has been issued. The only cases that were processed concern incidents of looting by Israeli military personnel and the abuse of civilians in military detention, which reflects the Israeli leadership's intention to shield the personnel from prosecution for serious wrongdoing - thereby limiting punishment to what qualifies as 'common crimes'.[1]

 

Concerning civil redress, the residents of Gaza continue to face severe barriers in accessing justice in Israel. The overarching challenge remains the mounting legislative restrictions that shield the government from torts liability for its troops’ actions.

 

The handling of our complaints has proven what we have long experienced: Israel is unwilling to conduct genuine, independent investigations into suspected war crimes and does not hold those responsible to account, as required by international law.[2] This continues to be the case even after the Israeli military established its Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism. Israel’s law enforcement system and its flawed investigative mechanisms instead appear primarily geared towards protecting its armed forces and allowing impunity to prevail.

 

We call on the Human Rights Council and members states to:  

  1. 1  Conclude that Israeli domestic investigations demonstrate an unwillingness and inability to genuinely carry out investigations or prosecutions according to international standards;
  2. 2  Demand that Israel remove all barriers for Palestinians to access Israeli courts to pursue civil tort claims against the Israeli military’s actions that include killings and damages;
  3. 3  Ensure that the Israeli forces’ apparent violations of international law are subject to independent and credible criminal investigations, with the aim of ensuring justice for victims according to the principles of customary international law.

Thank you.

 

[1] See " Defense Minister Ya’alon: No Place for Criminal Probe of Gaza War’s Black Friday'", Haaretz, 8 January 2015, available at http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.636074, last accessed on 29 August 2016.

[2] See Adalah's submission to the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict: http://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/8417.

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