UN: Israel, Palestinians may both be guilty of war crimes in 2014

UN: Israel, Palestinians may both be guilty of war crimes in 2014
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Both Israelis and Palestinians may have committed war crimes during the conflict in Gaza last summer, according to a long-awaited report from the United Nations.

Though Israel quickly rejected the report — which came from an independent panel working for the U.N. Human Rights Council — its scathing criticism could be used as legal ammunition into potential future war crimes charges.

“Palestinians and Israelis were profoundly shaken by the events of the summer of 2014,” the authors of the analysis wrote. 

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Investigators gathered “substantial information pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups,” they added.

“In some cases, these violations may amount to war crimes.”

Last summer, 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, were killed during the weeks-long violence. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed, including six civilians.

Attacks during the hostilities destroyed thousands of homes, ruined neighborhoods and kept both Israelis and Palestinians on edge over fears that rockets could strike at any moment.  

Palestinians accused the Israeli military of wanton acts of violence that took little regard for the safety of civilians.

Israel, meanwhile, said that the blame for the civilian death toll lay at the feet of Hamas, who used people as “human shields.” Hamas, they alleged, also indiscriminately fired rockets into civilian areas of Israel.

“Israel treats this report as flawed and biased and it urged all fair-minded observers to do the same,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

Israel has had a tense relationship with the U.N., and Netanyahu accused the Human Rights Council of having “a singular obsession” with Israel. He noted that the body has passed more resolutions focused on Israel than every other country combined.

The violence last summer was triggered by a series of events, including the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and the murder of a Palestinian teenager in response.