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2009-05-09

"No Safe Place" - a report about Israel's war crimes in Gaza


Picture from the report

The Independent Fact Finding Committee On Gaza, consisting of international law experts, has reviewed Israel's 22-day "Operation Cast Lead"-operation against Hamas in Gaza in December 2008/January 2009.

The report "No Safe Place" covers in extreme detail the deaths, injuries and damages sustained by the Palestines during the operation. It was presented to the League of Arab States 30th of April 2009, and you can download the PDF here. Interestingly and sadly, almost no media have written about the report. Yet.


HERE ARE SOME OF THE FINDINGS IN THE REPORT:


• A crime against humanity is defined as "killings, annihilations, persecution and similar inhumane deeds commited as a part of a conscious or systematic attack against a civil population." The commitee has found that many of the actions of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the campaign through these parameters can be classified as both war crimes and crimes against humanity. Some members of the IDF are also guilty of genocide.

• According to findings of the committee, over 5.000 Palestinians were wounded and 1400 more died from the Israeli war actions. At the very least 850 of the dead were civilians, of which 300 were children and 110 women. The report does not accept Israel's allegations of only 295 dead civilians.

• Finn Lynghjem, a judge from Norway and part of the committee says, "Children only 3-4 months old were killed. This was pure terrorism. There was also a large amount of girls getting killed, future Palestinian mothers. This is a way of exterminating future generations."

• On the campaigning side, only 14 Israelis were killed, four civilians in Israel and 10 soldiers in Gaza. Three of these were killed by friendly fire.

• The Palestinians mostly had unsophisticated weapons and rockets, while Israel took advantage of an arsenal of very modern and sophisticated weapons to bomb Gaza from the air, ground and sea.

• The Israelis had not distinguished between civilians and civilian objects and military targets.

• There was no evidence that any military advantage was served by the killing and wounding of civilians or the destruction of property.

• In the same way, even if Palestinian weapons and ammunition were stored in buildings, Israel has failed to present any evidence that this could possibly justify the type and amount of killing, wounding and damage to property that occurred.

• The committee does not accept the internal Israeli investigation, which concludes that no international laws were broken. Firstly because the investigation was not independant, and also because there is no suggestion that it considered Palestinian sources.



Picture from the report

• Israel Defense Forces (IDF)are guilty of murdering and terrorising civilians through bombing from air, land and sea. The use of unlawful weapon technology like white phosphorus bombs, cluster boms, depleted uranium and flechette ammunition created a large amount of unnecessary suffering for the victims. A large amount of victims had to amputate limbs, many of them multiple limbs.

• There was substantial destruction of, and damage to property during the offensive. Over 3.000 homes were destroyed and over 11.000 damaged. 215 factories and 700 private businesses were seriously damaged or destroyed. 15 hospitals and 43 primary health care centres were destroyed or damaged. 28 government buildings and 60 police stations were destroyed or damaged. 30 mosques were destroyed and 28 damaged. 10 schools were destroyed and 168 damaged. Three universities/colleges were destroyed and 14 damaged, and 53 United Nations properties were damaged.

• There is considerable evidence of IDF bombing hospitals and ambulances, and hindering evacuation of wounded.



Picture from the report

Also Hamas are guilty of war crimes:
• The committee has received evidence that human shields were used both by Hamas and Israel, but it has not been possible to verify this. In any case this cannot explain the high number of casualties.

• Palestinians who fired rockets into Israel are guilty of ruthless and disproportionate attacks on civilians, no matter if they are Hamas or not. It can be argued that Hamas are or should be in effective control of these factions and could be held responsible for them.

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More about the report in Norwegian (at Dagbladet). Also read about and download another report by PMRS, where medical personnel went into Gaza to discover first hand the injuries sustained by civilians.

And also read about a very revealing article about how an Israeli investigation report claim to whitewash the military campaign, with Israel taking no responsibility for the loss of Palestinian lives.

If you want to take action, link to this blogpost or to the original PDF on your blog, or even call up the newspapers in your country and ask why they haven't written about this report. Please try to help with spreading awareness.

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The Independent Fact Finding Committee On Gaza consisted of the following international and non-Arabic people. Names are followed by a very brief summary of their resumes. Read the report for the full texts:

• John Dugard (South Africa), retired professor of law at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

• Dr. Paul J.I.M. de Waart (the Netherlands), an emeritus professor of international law at the VU University Amsterdam.

• Finn Lynghjem (Norway), a judge in Sunnmøre and an International Judge of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

• Gonzalo Boye Tuset (Chile/Germany), lawyer and Professor of Procedure and Criminal Law at the Madrid Bar Association, as well as a permanent contributor to several Spanish newspapers.

• Francisco Corte Real (Portugal), a medical doctor specialising in Legal Medicine with the conference in Body Damage Evaluation.

• Raelene Sharp (Australia), a lawyer with extensive domestic experience in criminal investigations, prosecutions and related litigation.
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