The Goldstone Report: First, a very long guide

I’m going to start trying to disseminate the findings of the Goldstone report. First, a very long selection of highlights. Then a shorter selection of highlights. Then in essay form commentary. First, a very long selection of highlights (the report is very long, so this is still highlights)

A LONG SELECTION OF THE GOLDSTONE REPORT’S FINDINGS

ATTACKS ON CHICKEN FARM, FLOUR MILL, NAMAR WELLS COMPLEX

50. The Mission investigated several incidents involving the destruction of industrial

infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment and housing (Chapter

XIII). Already at the beginning of the military operations, the Al Bader flour mill was the only

flour mill in the Gaza Strip still operating. The flour mill was hit by a series of air strikes on 9

January 2009 after several false warnings had been issued on previous days. The Mission finds

that its destruction had no military justification. The nature of the strikes, in particular the precise

targeting of crucial machinery, suggests that the intention was to disable the factory in terms of

its productive capacity. From the facts it ascertained, the Mission finds that there has been a

violation of the grave breaches provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Unlawful and

wanton destruction which is not justified by military necessity amounts to a war crime. The

Mission also finds that the destruction of the mill was carried out for the purposes of denying

sustenance to the civilian population, which is a violation of customary international law and may

constitute a war crime. The strike on the flour mill further constitutes a violation of human

rights provisions regarding the right to adequate food and means of subsistence.

51. The chicken farms of Mr. Sameh Sawafeary in the Zeitoun neighbourhood south of Gaza

City reportedly supplied over 10 per cent of the Gaza egg market. Armoured bulldozers of the

Israeli forces systematically flattened the chicken coops, killing all 31,000 chickens inside, and

destroyed the plant and material necessary for the business. The Mission concludes that this was

a deliberate act of wanton destruction not justified by any military necessity and draws the same

legal conclusions as in the case of the destruction of the flour mill.

52. Israeli forces also carried out a strike against a wall of one of the raw sewage lagoons of the

Gaza Waste Water Treatment Plant, which caused the outflow of more than 200,000 cubic

metres of raw sewage into neighbouring farmland. The circumstances of the strike on the lagoon

suggest that it was deliberate and premeditated. The Namar Wells complex in Jabalya consisted

of two water wells, pumping machines, a generator, fuel storage, a reservoir chlorination unit,

buildings and related equipment. All were destroyed by multiple air strikes on the first day of the

Israeli aerial attack. The Mission considers it unlikely that a target the size of the Namar Wells

could have been hit by multiple strikes in error. It found no grounds to suggest that there was any

military advantage to be had by hitting the wells and noted that there was no suggestion that

Palestinian armed groups had used the wells for any purpose. Considering that the right to

drinking water is part of the right to adequate food, the Mission makes the same legal findings as

in the case of the Al Bader flour mill.

DESTROYED CIVILIAN BUILDINGS

53…  The Israeli army “forces engaged in another wave of systematic destruction of civilian buildings during the last three days of their presence in Gaza, aware of the imminence of withdrawal.”

54The attacks on industrial facilities, food production and water infrastructure investigated by

the Mission are part of a broader pattern of destruction, which includes the destruction of the

only cement packaging plant in Gaza (the Atta Abu Jubbah plant), the Abu Eida factories for

ready-mix concrete, further chicken farms and the Al Wadia Group’s foods and drinks factories.

The facts ascertained by the Mission indicate that there was a deliberate and systematic policy on

the part of the Israeli armed forces to target industrial sites and water installations.

MISTREATING POWS

55. The Mission investigated four incidents in which Israeli forces coerced Palestinian civilian

men at gun point to take part in house searches during the military operations (Chapter XIV).

The Palestinian men were blindfolded and handcuffed as they were forced to enter houses ahead

of the Israeli soldiers. In one of the incidents, Israeli forces repeatedly forced a man to enter a

house in which Palestinian combatants were hiding. Published testimonies of Israeli soldiers who

took part in the military operations confirm the continued use of this practice, in spite of clear

orders from Israel’s High Court to the armed forces to put an end to it and repeated public

assurances from the armed forces that the practice had been discontinued. The Mission

concludes that this practice amounts to the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and is

therefore prohibited by international humanitarian law. It puts the right to life of the civilians at

risk in an arbitrary and unlawful manner and constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment. The use of

human shields also is a war crime. The Palestinian men used as human shields were questioned

under threat of death or injury to extract information about Hamas, Palestinian combatants and

tunnels. This constitutes a further violation of international humanitarian law.

p 20

“During the military operations Israeli armed forces rounded up large numbers of civilians and

detained them in houses and open spaces in Gaza and, in the case of many Palestinian men, also

took them to detention facilities in Israel. In the cases investigated by the Mission, the facts

gathered indicate that none of the civilians were armed or posed any apparent threat to the Israeli

soldiers. Chapter XV of the report is based on the Mission’s interviews with Palestinian men

who were detained, as well as on the Mission’s review of other relevant material, including

interviews with relatives and statements from other victims submitted to the Mission.

57. From the facts gathered, the Mission finds that there were numerous violations of

international humanitarian law and human rights law committed in the context of these

detentions. Civilians, including women and children, were detained in degrading conditions,

deprived of food, water and access to sanitary facilities, and exposed to the elements in January

without any shelter. The men were handcuffed, blindfolded and repeatedly made to strip,

sometimes naked, at different stages of their detention.

58. In the Al Atatra area in north-western Gaza Israeli troops had dug out sand pits in which

Palestinian men, women and children were detained. Israeli tanks and artillery positions were

located inside the sand pits and around them and fired from next to the detainees.

59. The Palestinian men who were taken to detention facilities in Israel were subjected to

degrading conditions of detention, harsh interrogation, beatings and other physical and mental

abuse

“60. In addition to arbitrary deprivation of liberty and violation of due process rights, the cases of

the detained Palestinian civilians highlight a common thread of the interaction between Israeli

soldiers and Palestinian civilians which emerged clearly also in many cases discussed in other

parts of the Report: continuous and systematic abuse, outrages on personal dignity, humiliating

and degrading treatment contrary to fundamental principles of international humanitarian law

and human rights law. The Mission concludes that the treatment of these civilians constitutes the

infliction of a collective penalty on those persons and amounts to measures of intimidation and

terror. Such acts are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and constitute a war crime.”

WAR CRIMES INTENTIONAL

“61. The Mission reviewed available information on the planning of the Israeli military operations

in Gaza, on the advanced military technology available to the Israeli forces and on their training

in international humanitarian law (Chapter XVI). According to official Government information,

the Israeli armed forces have an elaborate legal advice and training system in place, which seeks

to ensure knowledge of the relevant legal obligations and support to commanders for compliance

in the field. The Israeli armed forces possess very advanced hardware and are also a market

leader in the production of some of the most advanced pieces of military technology available,

including UAVs. They have a very significant capacity for precision strikes by a variety of

methods, including aerial and ground launches. Taking into account the ability to plan, the

means to execute plans with the most developed technology available, and statements by the

Israeli military that almost no errors occurred, the Mission finds that the incidents and patterns of

events considered in the report are the result of deliberate planning and policy decisions.

62. The tactics used by Israeli military armed forces in the Gaza offensive are consistent with

previous practices, most recently during the Lebanon war in 2006. A concept known as the

Dahiya doctrine emerged then, involving the application of disproportionate force and the

causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to

civilian populations. The Mission concludes from a review of the facts on the ground that it

witnessed for itself that what was prescribed as the best strategy appears to have been precisely

what was put into practice.

63. In the framing of Israeli military objectives with regard to the Gaza operations, the concept

of Hamas’ “supporting infrastructure” is particularly worrying as it appears to transform civilians

and civilian objects into legitimate targets. Statements by Israeli political and military leaders

prior to and during the military operations in Gaza indicate that the Israeli military conception of

what was necessary in a war with Hamas viewed disproportionate destruction and creating the

maximum disruption in the lives of many people as a legitimate means to achieve not only

military but also political goals.

64. Statements by Israeli leaders to the effect that the destruction of civilian objects would be

justified as a response to rocket attacks (“destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired”), indicate the

possibility of resort to reprisals. The Mission is of the view that reprisals against civilians in

armed hostilities are contrary to international humanitarian law.

MAKING LIFE UNLIVEABLE

67. As a result of the razing of farmland and destruction of greenhouses, food insecurity is

expected to further worsen in spite of the increased quantities of food items allowed into Gaza

since the beginning of the military operations. Dependence on food assistance increases. Levels

of stunting and thinness in children and of anaemia prevalence in children and pregnant women

were worrying already before the military operations. The hardship caused by the extensive

destruction of shelter (UNDP reported 3,354 houses completely destroyed and 11,112 partially

damaged) and resulting displacement particularly affects children and women. In the water and

sanitation sector, the destruction of infrastructure (such as the destruction of the Namar wells and

the attack against the water treatment plant described in Chapter XIII), aggravated the preexisting

situation. Already before the military operations, 80 percent of the water supplied in

Gaza did not meet the WHO’s standards for drinking water. The discharge of untreated or partially treated waste water into the sea is a further health hazard worsened by the military

operations.

69 Doctors of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme gave information

to the Mission on psychosomatic disorders, on a widespread state of alienation in the population,

and on “numbness” as a result of severe loss. They told the Mission that these conditions were

likely to in turn increase the readiness to embrace violence and extremism. They also told the

Mission that 20 percent of children in the Gaza Strip suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorders.

COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT

73. The Mission also concludes that in the destruction by Israeli armed forces of private

residential houses, water wells, water tanks, agricultural land and greenhouses there was a

specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance to the population of the Gaza Strip. The

Mission finds that Israel violated its duty to respect the right of the Gaza population to an

adequate standard of living, including access to adequate food, water and housing.

74. The conditions of life in Gaza, resulting from deliberate actions of the Israeli forces and the

declared policies of the Government of Israel – as they were presented by its authorized and

legitimate representatives – with regard to the Gaza Strip before, during and after the military

operation, cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of

the Gaza Strip in violation of international humanitarian law.

75. Finally, the Mission considered whether the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the

Gaza Strip of their means of sustenance, employment, housing and water, that deny their

freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their access

a court of law and an effective remedy, could amount to persecution, a crime against humanity. From the facts available to it, the Mission is of the view that some of the actions of the

Government of Israel might justify a competent court finding that crimes against humanity have

been committed.

REPRESSION IN THE WEST BANK

83. Various witnesses and experts informed the Mission of a sharp increase in the use of force by

the Israeli security forces against Palestinians in the West Bank from the commencement of the

Israeli operations in Gaza (Chapter XIX). A number of protestors were killed by Israeli forces

during Palestinian demonstrations, including in support of the Gaza population under attack,

following the beginning of the operations, and scores were injured. The level of violence

employed in the West Bank during the time of the operation in Gaza, was sustained also after the

end of the operation.

84. Of particular concern to the Mission were allegations of the use of unnecessary, lethal force

by Israeli security forces, the use of live ammunitions, and the provision in the Israeli armed

forces “open fire regulations” of different rules to deal with disturbances where only Palestinians

are present, as compared to disturbances where Israelis are present. This raises serious concern

with regard to discriminatory policies vis-à-vis Palestinians. Eye-witnesses also reported to the

Mission the use of sniper fire in the context of crowd control. Witnesses spoke of the markedly

different atmosphere they encountered in the confrontation with the soldiers and border police

during demonstrations in which all checks and balances had been removed. Several witnesses

told the Mission that during the operation in Gaza, the sense in the West Bank was one of a “free

for all”, where anything was permitted.

ISRAELI MILITARY PRISON LAW

86. It is estimated that since the beginning of the occupation, approximately 700,000 Palestinian

men, women and children have been detained by Israel. According to estimates, as at 1st June 2009, there were approximately 8,100 Palestinian ‘political prisoners’ in detention in Israel,

including 60 women and 390 children. Most of these detainees are charged or convicted by the

Israeli Military Court System that operates for Palestinians in the West Bank and under which

due process rights for Palestinians are severely limited. Many are held in administrative

detention, and some under the Israeli “Unlawful Combatants Law”.

CHILD ABUSE

89. During the Israeli military operations in Gaza, the number of children detained by Israel

increased compared to the same period in 2008. Many children were reportedly arrested on the

street and/or during demonstrations in the West Bank during the Gaza operations. Numbers of

child detainees continued to be high in the months following the end of the operations,

accompanied by reports of abuses by Israeli security forces

ARRESTING HAMAS

90. A feature of Israel’s detention practice vis-à-vis the Palestinians since 2005 has been the

arrest of persons affiliated with Hamas. A few months before the Palestinian Legislative Council

(PLC) elections in 2005, Israel arrested numerous persons who had been involved in municipal

or PLC elections. Following the capture by Palestinian armed groups of Israeli soldier Gilad

Shalit in June 2006, the Israeli army arrested some 65 members of the PLC, Mayors and

Ministers, mostly Hamas members. All were held at least two years, generally in inadequate

conditions . Further arrests of Hamas leaders were conducted during the Gaza military

operations. The detention of the PLC members has meant that the PLC has been unable to

function and exercise its legislative and oversight function over the Palestinian executive.

91. The Mission finds that these practices have resulted in violations of international human

rights and humanitarian law, including the prohibition of arbitrary detention, the right to equal

protection under the law and not to be discriminated based on political beliefs and the special

protections to which children are entitled. The Mission also finds that the detention of PLC

members may amount to collective punishment contrary to international humanitarian law.

GOLDSTONE DISCUSSES ROADBLOCKS ETC IN WEST BANK PARA 92

97-102 – PA CRIMES AGAINST HAMAS

103-110 – QASSAM ROCKETS though in 110, it is noted that Israel provides for Jews, but The Mission is greatly concerned, however, about the lack of an early warning system

and a lack of public shelters and fortifications available to the Palestinian Israeli communities

living unrecognised and in some of the recognised villages that are within the range of rocket

and mortars being fired by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.

Repression inside Israel

111 While in the main, the protests were permitted to take place, there

were occasions when, reportedly, protesters had difficulty in obtaining permits – particularly in

areas populated mainly by Palestinian Israelis. 715 people in Israel and in occupied East

Jerusalem were arrested during the protests. There appear to have been no arrests of counterprotesters

and 34% of those arrested were under 18 years of age. The Mission notes that a

relatively small proportion of those protesting were arrested.

112. The Mission notes with concern the reported instances of physical violence against

protesters committed by members of the police, including the beating of protester and other

inappropriate conduct by the police including subjected Palestinian citizens of Israel who were

arrested to racial abuse and making sexual comments about female members of their families.

Of protesters brought before the Israeli courts, it was the Palestinian Israelis who were

disproportionately held in detention pending trial. The element of discrimination and differential

treatment between Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel by judicial authorities, as indicated in

the reports received, is a substantial cause for concern.

116. The Government of Israel imposed a ban on media access to Gaza following 5 November

2008. Further, access was denied to human rights organizations and the ban continues for some

international and Israeli organizations. The Mission can find no justifiable reason for this denial

of access. The presence of journalists and international human rights monitors aides the

investigation and wide public reporting of the conduct of the parties to the conflict and their

presence can inhibit misconduct. The Mission observes that Israel, in its actions against political

activists, NGOs and the media, has attempted to reduce public scrutiny of its conduct both during

its military operations in Gaza and the consequences that these operations had for the residents of

Gaza, possibly seeking to prevent investigation and public reporting thereon.

DISCUSSION OF CONTEXT LEADING TO CEASEFIRE

195. From the disengagement until November 2006, the Israeli armed forces fired

approximately 15,000 artillery shells and conducted more than 550 air strikes into the Gaza

Strip. Israeli military attacks killed approximately 525 people in Gaza. Over the same period, at

least 1,700 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel by Palestinian militants, injuring

41 Israelis. The conflict culminated, in 2006, in the Israeli military incursions into Gaza,

codenamed “Summer Rains” and “Autumn Clouds”, the latter focusing on the north of the Strip

around the town of Beit Hanoun, where shortly after the end of the military operations in

November, 19 people, of whom 18 of the same family, were killed by artillery fire in one

incident.33

196. In February 2008, a rocket attack from Gaza hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon causing light

injures. The Israeli armed forced launched an operation codenamed “Hot Winter” during which

the air force conducted at least 75 air strikes on different targets within the Gaza Strip. As a

result of the military operation, more than 100 Palestinians and 2 Israelis were killed in Gaza.34

201 – DISCUSSES THE WALL

203 – the apartheid roads

205 – condemns separation of Gaza and West Bank

CONDEMNS INSTITUTIONALISED RACISM

The application of Israeli domestic laws has resulted in

institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to the

benefit of Jewish settlers, both Israeli citizens and others. Exclusive benefits reserved for Jews

derive from the two-tiered civil status under Israel’s domestic legal regime based on a “Jewish

nationality,” which entitles “persons of Jewish race or descendency”56 to superior rights and

privileges, particularly in land use, housing, development, immigration and access to natural

resources, as affirmed in key legislation.57 Administrative procedures qualify indigenous

inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territory as “alien persons” and, thus, prohibited from

building on, or renting, large portions of land designated by the Government of Israel as “State

land”.58

207. The two-tiered civil status under Israeli law, favouring “Jewish nationals” (le’om yehudi)

over persons holding Israeli citizenship (ezrahut), has been a subject of concern under the

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, particularly those forms of

discrimination carried out through Israel’s parastatal agencies (World Zionist

Organization/Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund and their affiliates), which dominate land

use, housing and development.59 The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also has recognized that Israel’s application of a “Jewish nationality” distinct from Israeli citizenship

institutionalizes discrimination that disadvantages all Palestinians, in particular, refugees.60

Military system

209 – Since 1967, about 750,000 Palestinians have been detained at some point by the

Government of Israel, according to Palestinian human rights organizations. Currently, there are

approximately 8,100 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention centres, roughly 550 of

whom are administrative detainees.63 Administrative detention is detention without charge or

trial, authorized by an administrative order rather than by judicial decree. The conditions of

Palestinians in Israeli detention facilities have been the subject of considerable international

criticism, including concerns of torture and other ill-treatment. Palestinian detainees can

normally be visited only by first-degree relatives (see chapter XXI). However, following Hamas’

seizure of full control in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the Israeli authorities suspended visits from

family members travelling from Gaza to Palestinian detainees in Israel, depriving more than

900 detainees of direct contact with their relatives.64

the ceasefire

227. The first incident relevant to the ceasefire reportedly took place on 23 June 2008, when a

67-year-old Palestinian civilian was injured when the Israeli military stationed at the border

north-west of Beit Lahia opened fire on a group of Palestinians trying to collect fire wood near

the border. Also on 23 June, two mortar shells were reportedly fired from central Gaza. One

landed near the Nahal Oz crossing and the other in the Negev desert; no injuries were reported

230. At dawn on 24 June 2008, the Israeli armed forces launched a raid in the West Bank town

of Nablus in which an Islamic Jihad activist and another Palestinian man were killed.93

According to statements reportedly made by the Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad, it

responded by firing three Qassam rockets into Israel, which landed in the western Negev

desert.94 It added: “We cannot keep our hands tied when this is happening to our brothers in the

West Bank”, while a Gaza authorities spokesman was quoted as saying that the rocket attack

came as a result of “Israeli provocation” but that Hamas, as the Gaza authorities, was

“committed to the security calm”.95 In Israel, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson termed the

rocket attacks “a grave violation of the ceasefire”96 and said it would consider reimposing

economic sanctions.97

231. On 26 June 2008, Israel’s Defense Ministry ordered the reclosure of the Gaza border

crossings, save for special humanitarian cases, in response to the rocket attacks two days

previously.98 The Gaza authorities accused Israel of violating the ceasefire, stating “if the

crossings remain closed, the truce will collapse”.99

Discusses rockets and border closing. 233 – Hamas called for obeying ceasefire

245 10 July – Hamas arrests members of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade for firing two rockets.

248. During July 2008, the amount of commodities allowed into Gaza by Israel was assessed

by OCHA as remaining “far below the actual needs” and was “restricted to certain selected

essential humanitarian items”. The imports were 46 per cent of those entering Gaza in May 2007,

prior to the Hamas’ seizing control of the Gaza Strip. As a result of the restriction on imports and

total ban on exports, 95 per cent of Gaza’s industries remained closed.119

249. In August 2008, according to Israeli sources, three mortars and eight rockets were fired

into Israel from the Gaza Strip. They included a rocket which struck Sderot on 11 August

2008,120 prompting Israel’s closure of the crossings, as well as a rocket fired on 20 August 2008,

which once again led to the closure of the border crossings.121

250. During August, there was a reduction in the number of truckloads carrying goods into

Gaza. August imports represented 70 per cent of the July 2008 imports and 23 per cent of the

May 2007 level.122

251. In September 2008, three mortars and one rocket were fired into Israel from the Gaza

Strip, according to Israeli sources.123

252. During September, the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza through the

crossing increased, with levels of imports at 37 per cent of the May 2007 level. The Sufa

crossing closed on 13 September 2008 and goods were redirected through Kerem Shalom, as

Israel stated that it intended to have only one goods crossing open at any one time.124

253. In October 2008, Israeli sources stated that only one rocket and one mortar were fired into

Israel from the Gaza Strip.125 There was a 30 per cent decline in imports allowed into Gaza by

Israel as compared to September 2008, partly due to the closure of the crossings during the

Jewish holidays. Imports were at 26 per cent of the level of May 2007. Tunnels under the Rafah

border reportedly proliferated during this period and allowed the entry of otherwise unavailable

goods. Collapsing tunnels continued to cause casualties.126

254. After two months in which few incidents were reported, the ceasefire began to founder on

4 November 2008 following an incursion by Israeli soldiers into the Gaza Strip, which Israel

stated was to close a cross-border tunnel that in Israel’s view was intended to be used by

Palestinian fighters to kidnap Israeli soldiers. The soldiers attacked a house in the Wadi al-Salqa

village, east of Deir al-Balah, which was alleged to be the starting point of the tunnel, killing a

member of the al-Qassam Brigades. Several Israeli soldiers were wounded. In response, the al-

Qassam Brigades fired more than 30 Qassam rockets into Israel. Israel responded with an air

strike that left a further five members of the al-Qassam Brigades dead. Both sides blamed the

other for the escalation of violence. Hamas also accused Israel of trying to disrupt talks between

Hamas and Fatah that were scheduled for the following week in Cairo.127 Israel closed the

crossings into the Gaza Strip on 5 November 2008 and they remained closed until 24 November

2008, when they were opened briefly to allow humanitarian supplies to enter.128

257. Palestinian armed groups fired rockets and mortars into Israel throughout November 2008.

According to Israeli sources, 125 rockets were fired into Israel during November 2008

(compared to one in October) and 68 mortars shells were fired (also compared to one in

October).132 On 14 November 2008, a resident of Sderot was lightly injured by shrapnel.

258. Israel closed the crossings into Gaza for most of November 2008, although 42 trucks of

humanitarian aid were permitted to cross on 24 November 2008 and about 60 on 26 November

2008.133 According to OCHA, the number of trucks allowed into Gaza in November 2008 was

81 per cent lower than in October 2008. Shortages forced most of Gaza’s bakeries to close and

UNRWA suspended food distribution for five days to 750,000 Gazans owing to a lack of food

supplies.134

259. Rocket and mortar fire by Palestinian armed groups continued unabated throughout

December 2008.135 According to Israeli sources, 71 rockets and 59 mortars were fired into Israel

between 1 and 18 December.136

END OF THE CEASEFIRE

264. On 22 December 2008, a 24-hour ceasefire was declared at Egypt’s request. Three rockets

and one mortar were launched from Gaza that day. Israel opened the border to allow a limited

amount of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.148

265. By 23 December 2008, rocket and mortar fire was again increasing significantly;

30 rockets and 30 mortars were fired into Israel on 24 December 2008.149 The Israeli armed

forces continued to conduct air strikes on positions inside Gaza and the crossings into Israel

remained closed. On 26 December 2008, a rocket launched from Gaza fell short and hit a house

in northern Gaza killing two girls, aged 5 and 12.150

266. The intensified closure regime on the Gaza crossings which began in November continued

in December, with imports restricted to very basic food items and limited amounts of fuel,

animal feed and medical supplies. According to OCHA, many basic food items were no longer

available and negligible amounts of fuel were allowed to enter Gaza. This resulted in the health

sector in Gaza deteriorating further into a critical condition, with hospitals continuing to face

problems as a result of power cuts, low stocks of fuel to operate back-up generators, lack of

spare parts for medical equipment and shortages of consumables and medical supplies.151 On

18 December 2008, UNRWA once again suspended its food distribution programme for the rest

of the month, owing to shortages.152

267. On 27 December 2008, Israel started its military operations in Gaza.153

269 – Goldstone affirms Palestinian right of self determination.

The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination has been affirmed by the General

Assembly and the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on the Legal

Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.154 Selfdetermination

has special prominence in the context of the recent events and military hostilities

in the region, because they are but one episode in the long occupation of the Palestinian territory.

The right to self-determination has an erga omnes character whereby all States have the duty to

promote its realization. This is also recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, which

has declared that peoples who resist forcible action depriving them of their right to selfdetermination

have the right to seek and receive support from third parties

GAZA STILL OCCUPIED

277. Despite Israel’s declared intention to relinquish its position as an occupying Power by

evacuating troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip during its 2005 “disengagement”,161 the

international community continues to regard it as the occupying Power.162

278-9 – Gaza occupied

312-326 = BLOCKADE

THE ATTACK

– 337. Israeli air force activities continued throughout the military operations. In total, it has been

suggested that between 2,300 and 3,000 sorties were flown

351. Around 15 January the Israeli armed forces began withdrawing from their positions in the

main areas described above. As they did so, there appeared to be a practice of systematically

demolishing a large number of structures, including houses, water installations, such as tanks on

the roofs of houses, and of agricultural land.

352-9 – CASUALTY FIGURES

364 – Israeli casualties

366 on – bombing the prison and Palestinian Legislative Council building

370 – The Mission has taken note of the assessment of the Israeli

air force that 99 per cent of the strikes it carried out were accurate

BOMBING HAMAS INFRASTRUCTURE

375. This explanation posted on the Israeli armed forces’ official website is integrated and

elaborated on by numerous statements made by current and former senior Government officials

to the media. Major Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson of the Israeli armed forces, reportedly

argued “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”239 The deputy chief of staff, Maj.

Gen. Dan Harel, reportedly told a meeting with heads of local authorities in southern Israel that:

This operation is different from previous ones. We have set a high goal which we are

aiming for. We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas

government and all its wings. […] We are hitting government buildings, production

factories, security wings and more. We are demanding governmental responsibility from

Hamas and are not making distinctions between the various wings. After this operation

there will not be one Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the

rules of the game.240

376. Israeli armed forces’ spokesman Captain Benjamin Rutland reportedly stated: “Our

definition is that anyone who is involved with terrorism within Hamas is a valid target. This

ranges from the strictly military institutions and includes the political institutions that provide the

logistical funding and human resources for the terrorist arm.”

379 – This list is followed, however, by a statement

reiterating and elaborating the argument that there is really no distinction to be made between

military and civilian objectives as far as government and public administration in Gaza are

concerned:

While Hamas operates ministries and is in charge of a variety of administrative and

traditionally governmental functions in the Gaza Strip, it still remains a terrorist

organization. Many of the ostensibly civilian elements of its regime are in reality active

components of its terrorist and military efforts. Indeed, Hamas does not separate its

civilian and military activities in the manner in which a legitimate government might.

Instead, Hamas uses apparatuses under its control, including quasi-governmental

institutions, to promote its terrorist activity

410+ – argues police are civilians at length

424-8 – cannot find that the Hamas cops were part of the military resistance, and therefore legitimate combatants

433 – conclusion – non-combatants 438 – violation of police right to life

449 – ROCKETS FIRED NEAR RESIDENTIAL AREAS

The International Crisis Group interviewed a resident of Beit Lahia who stated that fighters used his land to fire

rockets, which he did not dare to resist, as his father had previously been shot in the leg by a

member of such an armed group when he had tried to prevent them from using his land as a

rocket launching site.304 Amnesty International conducted interviews with residents of Gaza

who stated that they had observed Palestinian fighters firing a rocket from a courtyard of a

Government school in Gaza City at a time when the schools were closed. In another area of

Gaza City, another resident reportedly showed an Amnesty International researcher a place

from which a rocket had been launched, 50 metres from a residential building.305 Amnesty

International also reported, however, that it had seen no evidence that rockets had been

launched from residential houses or buildings while civilians were still in them.

450. Both the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch found that the practice of

firing close to or within populated areas became more prevalent as the Israeli armed forces took

control of the more open or outlying areas

459 – VERY LITTLE ACTUAL FIGHTING BETWEEN HAMAS AND ISRAEL

469 – finds no evidence of Israeli allegations

474 – unimpressed by Israeli claims about ambulances used by Hamas

“481. Finally, on this issue, it is relevant to mention that the Israeli Government has produced

no visual or other evidence to support its allegation that Palestinian combatants “mingle

routinely with civilians in order to cover their movements

THE HUMAN SHIELDS ISSUE:

482. On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission finds that there are indications that

Palestinian armed groups launched rockets from urban areas. The Mission has not been able to

obtain any direct evidence that this was done with the specific intent of shielding the rocket

launchers from counterstrokes by the Israeli armed forces. The Mission also notes, however, that

Palestinian armed groups do not appear to have given Gaza residents sufficient warning of their

intention to launch rockets from their neighbourhoods to allow them to leave and protect

themselves against Israeli strikes at the rocket launching sites. The Mission notes that, in any

event, given the densely populated character of the northern half of the Gaza Strip, once Israeli

forces gained control of the more open or outlying areas during the first days of the ground

invasion, most — if not all — locations still accessible to Palestinian armed groups were in urban

areas.

483. The Mission finds that the presence of Palestinian armed fighters in urban residential

areas during the military operations is established. On the basis of the information it gathered,

the Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity of their combat

activities in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian

objects at risk of attack. While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members

of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from

civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian

population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack.

485. On the basis of its own investigations and statements by United Nations officials, the

Mission excludes that Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat activities from United

Nations facilities that were used as shelters during the military operations. The Mission cannot

discount the possibility that Palestinian armed groups were active in the vicinity of such

facilities.

486. The Mission is unable to make any determination on the general allegation that

Palestinian armed groups used mosques for military purposes. It notes that, in the one incident it

investigated of an Israeli attack on a mosque, it found no indication that the mosque was so used.

487. On the basis of the investigations it has conducted, the Mission did not find any evidence

to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by

Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport

combatants or for other military purposes.

488. On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission found no indication that the

civilian population was forced by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups to remain in areas under

attack from the Israeli armed forces.

494. From the information available to it, the Mission found no evidence to suggest that

Palestinian armed groups either directed civilians to areas where attacks were being launched or

forced civilians to remain within the vicinity of the attacks.

495. The reports received by the Mission suggest that it is likely that the Palestinian armed

groups did not at all times adequately distinguish themselves from the civilian population among

whom the hostilities were being conducted. Their failure to distinguish themselves from the

civilian population by distinctive signs is not a violation of international law in itself, but would

have denied them some of the legal privileges afforded to combatants. What international law

demands, however, is that those engaged in combat take all feasible precautions to protect

civilians in the conduct of their hostilities. The Mission found no evidence that members of

Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat in civilian dress. It can, therefore, not find a

violation of the obligation not to endanger the civilian population in this respect.

496. The conduct of hostilities in built-up areas does not, of itself, constitute a violation of

international law. However, launching attacks – whether of rockets and mortars at the population

of southern Israel or at the Israeli armed forces inside Gaza – close to civilian or protected

buildings constitutes a failure to take all feasible precautions. In cases where this occurred, the

Palestinian armed groups would have unnecessarily exposed the civilian population of Gaza to

the inherent dangers of the military operations taking place around them. This would have

constituted a violation of the customary rules of international humanitarian law referred to

above. It would also have constituted a violation of the right to life and physical integrity of the

civilians thereby endangered.

WARNINGS: Telephone calls

503. The Mission received first-hand information about some of these methods in its interviews

with witnesses in Gaza. In the report on the attack at al-Fakhura Street junction (see chap. X), the

Mission notes the credible account of Mr. Abu Askar of the telephone warning he received as a

result of which he was able to evacuate up to 40 people from his and other houses. He received

that call at around 1.45 a.m. and Israeli forces destroyed his house with a missile strike seven

minutes later.

504. The Mission is also aware of circumstances in which telephone warnings may have

caused fear and confusion. Al-Bader Flour Mills Co. (see chap. XIII) received two recorded

messages indicating the mill was to be destroyed, but neither of these was acted upon. Five days

later the mill was struck in the early hours of the morning with no warning whatsoever. The

owners of the business and their staff suffered anxiety by having to evacuate the premises on two

occasions as a result of receiving such messages when no strikes took place.

513-523 – nowhere safe to go

532 – “roof knocking” not a decent warning. It notes that, if this was meant

as a warning shot, it has to be deemed reckless in the extreme.

541. The Mission does not consider the technique of firing missiles into or on top of buildings

as capable of being described as a warning, much less an effective warning. It is a dangerous

practice and in essence constitutes a form of attack rather than a warning.

543 on – discusses UNRWA compound bombing

548. The UNRWA compound contained, among other things, a substantial fuel depot. The

depot has an underground storage facility, which at the time had about 120,000 litres of fuel.

Fuel tankers parked above ground had around 49,000 litres of fuel in them. In addition to the

obvious and immediate risk of fire in these circumstances, the compound also stored large

quantities of medical supplies, food, clothing and blankets in the warehouses.

549. Conservative estimates suggest that between 600 and 700 civilians were taking shelter in

the compound at that time.

550. The principal and immediate risk was, therefore, of what might have been a catastrophic

fire caused by the ignition of the fuel in the direct vicinity of the site where hundreds of civilians

had sought shelter directly in response to the Israeli warnings of 3 January 2009.

572 – notes Israeli apology by Barak that this was a “grave error”. 573 – The damage caused to the UNRWA headquarters during the fighting in the

Tel El-Hawwa neighbourhood is the unfortunate result of the type of warfare that

Hamas forced upon the IDF, involving combat in the Gaza Strip’s urban spaces

and adjacent to facilities associated with international organizations. These results

could not be predicted.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the forces did not intend, at any stage, to hit a

UN facility. Following UN complaints that an explosive shell had hit the

headquarters, the forces were ordered to cease firing explosive shells in the region

in question.

DEALS WITH CLAIM OF ISRAELI ERROR

575. The Mission has a number of observations about the conclusions of the Israeli

Government. First, it does not share the circumspect or indeed understated representation of the

nature and extent of the strikes in the compound. There were ten strikes: three high explosive

shells landed and exploded in the compound; seven white phosphorous container shells

discharged completely or very substantially in the confines of a very limited space around

particularly vulnerable areas of the UNRWA compound. This is not a matter of a limited number

of wedges falling inside the compound or shrapnel or parts of shells landing in the compound as

the shells exploded elsewhere. It is important to emphasize that we are dealing with shells

exploding or discharging inside the compound in areas where hazardous material was stored.

576. Secondly, the claim that this result was neither intended nor anticipated has to be

reviewed carefully. In the first place the Mission affirms the result to be reviewed is not

fragments and wedges landing in the compound but ten shells landing and exploding inside the

compound. It is difficult to accept that the consequences were not appreciated and foreseen by

the Israeli armed forces.

577. Those in the Israeli army who deploy white phosphorous, or indeed any artillery shells,

are expertly trained to factor in the relevant complexities of targeting, including wind force and

the earth’s curvature. They have to know the area they are firing at, possible obstacles in hitting

the target and the other environmental factors necessary to ensure an effective strike. It is also

clear that, having determined that it was necessary to establish a safety distance, the presence of

the UNWRA installations was a factor present in the minds of those carrying out the shelling.

578. The question then becomes how specialists expertly trained in the complex issue of

artillery deployment and aware of the presence of an extremely sensitive site can strike that site

ten times while apparently trying to avoid it.

579. The Mission’s scepticism that the result was not anticipated is confirmed by the fact that

from around 8 a.m. on 15 January UNRWA officials began a series of calls to a number of

officials explaining precisely what was going on. These calls were made to the appropriate

people at COGAT/CLA as a result of prearranged coordination and further reinforced by the

numerous calls by the Deputy Director of UNRWA to senior Israeli military officials in Tel

Aviv.

580. In particular, the Israeli military officials were informed that shells had indeed struck

inside the compound by the series of phone calls made by UNRWA officials.

581. The Mission is in possession of information that indicates a senior UNRWA official

called the head of HCC in Tel Aviv and a number of his immediate subordinates several times.

In particular a call was made at 10.31 a.m. by the official to the Israeli armed forces to explain

that white phosphorous had landed in the compound and had set fire to the warehouse. He was

told “by Tel Aviv” that the firing had stopped. To be clear, this means that by 10.30 a.m. at the

latest channels of communication had been opened between Tel Aviv and those on the ground in

Gaza City responsible for the firing of the shells, albeit not necessarily directly, but sufficient to

be receiving reports of what was going on from Israeli troops on the ground.

582. At 10.30 a.m. staff at the UNRWA compound noted five white phosphorous container

shells had discharged in the confines of the compound. At 10.40 a.m. the UNRWA official was

again in direct communication with Tel Aviv explaining specifically that “the targeting is taking

place in the vicinity of the workshop” and requiring that the Israeli armed forces desist

immediately. In particular, he pointed out that what was required was a cessation of the firing for

a sustained period of time to allow staff to bring the fire under control.

583. At 11.17 a.m. the same senior UNRWA official was informed in a phone call from

UNRWA staff in the compound that a further two rounds had impacted “within the last ten

minutes”.

584. At 11.53 a.m., in a further telephone call, the senior UNRWA official indicated to the

COGAT/CLA contact person that the firing had been unforgivable and unacceptable. He noted

that efforts had been made since 09.30 a.m. to get the firing to stop and that UNRWA had been

told in several calls that the firing had been ordered to be stopped at higher levels, yet it

continued. The UNRWA official noted that it was incomprehensible that, with the amount of

surveillance and geographic positioning system (GPS) information, the most vulnerable part of

the compound had been repeatedly struck.

585. In all the circumstances the Mission rejects the Israeli armed forces’ assertion to the effect

that it was not anticipated that the shells would land in the compound. The Israeli armed forces

were told what was happening. It no longer had to anticipate it. The Israeli armed forces’

responses in Tel Aviv and in COGAT/CLA indicate quite clearly that they understood the nature

and scale of what was happening. Their responses in particular indicate that orders had been

given to stop the firing.

590….The fact is that the events in question continued over a period of some three hours

593. Even if the Israeli Government’s position regarding the position of Palestinian armed

groups is taken at face value, the Mission concludes that, given the evident threat of substantial

damage to several hundred civilian lives and to civilian property in using white phosphorous in

that particular line of fire, the advantage gained from using white phosphorous to screen Israeli

armed forces’ tanks from anti-tank fire from armed opposition groups could not be deemed

proportionate.

594. Having been fully alerted not to the risks but to the actual consequences of the course of

action, Israeli armed forces continued with precisely the same conduct as a result of which

further shells hit the compound.

596+ – bombing of Al Quds hospital Tal al-Hawa, Gaza City

623. In the light of all these considerations, the Mission finds that there are reasonable grounds

to believe that the hospital and the ambulance depot, as well as the ambulances themselves, were

the object of a direct attack by the Israeli armed forces in the area at the time and that the

hospital could not be described in any respect at that time as a military objective.

627. On considering the information before it, the Mission takes the view that there was intent

to strike the hospital, as evidenced in particular by the high explosive artillery shell that

penetrated the rear of the hospital and destroyed the pharmacy.

629. Taking into account the weapons used, and in particular the use of white phosphorous in

and around a hospital that the Israeli armed forces knew was not only dealing with scores of

injured and wounded but also giving shelter to several hundred civilians, the Mission finds,

based on all the information available to it, that in directly striking the hospital and the

ambulance depot the Israeli armed forces in these circumstances violated article 18 of the Fourth

Geneva Convention and violated customary international law in relation to proportionality.

630 plus – attacks on al-Wafa hospital, January 5 and 16

633. The hospital was the object of a significant attack on 16 April 2008. Tanks fired in and

around the hospital area, damaging a large number of patient rooms and causing significant

destruction of the building for rehabilitative care for the elderly. Hospital staff indicate there was

no armed presence inside the hospital at that time but cannot say whether there may have been a

presence outside.

635. On 5 January, the hospital was attacked with intensive artillery fire, including white

phosphorous shells. Senior doctors indicate that generic recorded telephone warnings were

actually received during the shelling. The latest warning the hospital received on 5 January was

at 4.30 p.m. Following this, at around 12.30-1 a.m. on 6 January, white phosphorous shells

landed in the area surrounding the administrative building and on its roof.

638. The hospital was attacked again with artillery fire on 16 January 2009 at 2 a.m. No

specific warning was given. Again a general recorded message had been received saying that

people located in the border areas should leave and threatening punitive measures to those who

stayed. Again doctors confirm there was no armed presence inside the hospital but cannot say

what was occurring outside it.

649. The Mission considers the use of white phosphorous in such an area as reckless and not

justifiable in relation to any military advantage sought in the particular circumstances.

650. The Mission considers that the general protection given to hospitals indicates the need for

particular consideration to be given to the use of such especially hazardous materials. The failure

to provide sufficient warning indicates in the Mission’s view a wilful failure to consider

seriously the consequences of using such weapons in those circumstances.

653+ – shelling of street school used as UNRWA shelter on al-Fakhura st.

657. UNRWA has confirmed to the Mission that the Israeli armed forces were fully aware that

the school was being used as a shelter from 5 January 2005. UNRWA materials indicate that

there were 1,368 people in the shelter at the time.

667-673 – contradictory Israeli positions

(b) Even if there were people firing mortars near al-Fakhura Street, the calculation of the

military advantage had to be assessed bearing in mind the chances of success in killing the

targets as against the risk of firing into a street full of civilians and very near a shelter with

1,368 civilians and of which the Israeli authorities had been informed.

699. The choice of weapon – mortars – appears to have been a reckless one. Mortars are area

weapons. They kill or maim whoever is within the impact zone after detonation and they are

incapable of distinguishing between combatants and civilians. A decision to deploy them in a

location filled with civilians is a decision that a commander knows will result in the death and

injuries of some of those civilians.

700. Even if the version of events presented now by Israel is to be believed, the Mission does

not consider that the choice of deploying mortar weapons in a busy street with around

150 civilians in it (not to mention those within the school) can be justified. The Mission does not

consider that in these circumstances it was a choice that any reasonable commander would have

made.

703. Whatever the truth, the Mission is of the view that the deployment of at least four mortar

shells to attempt to kill a small number of specified individuals in a setting where large numbers

of civilians were going about their daily business and 1,368 people were sheltering nearby

cannot meet the test of what a reasonable commander would have determined to be an acceptable

loss of civilian life for the military advantage sought.

DELIBERATE ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS – 11 incidents

705. The Mission investigated 11 incidents in which serious allegations of direct attacks with

lethal outcome were made against civilians. There appears to have been no justifiable military

objective pursued in any of them. The first two incidents concern alleged attacks by Israeli

armed forces against houses in the al-Samouni neighbourhood of Gaza during the initial phase of

the ground invasion. The following group of seven incidents concern the alleged shooting of

civilians who were trying to leave their homes to walk to a safer place, waving white flags and,

in some of the cases, following an injunction from the Israeli armed forces to do so. In the last of

these seven cases, a house was allegedly shelled with white phosphorous, killing five and

injuring others. Two further members of the family were allegedly shot by Israeli troops as they

tried to evacuate the wounded to a hospital. In the following incident, a mosque was targeted

during the early evening prayer, resulting in the death of 15. In many of the incidents, the Israeli

armed forces allegedly obstructed emergency medical help to the wounded. A further incident

concerns the bombing of a family house, killing 22 family members. In the last of the incidents

described, a crowd of family and neighbours at a condolence tent was attacked with flechettes.

Footnote: 394 Graffiti left by Israeli soldiers in the house of Talal al-Samouni, which were photographed by the Mission,

included (a) in Hebrew, under the Star of David: “The Jewish people are alive” and, above a capital “T” [referring to

the army (Tsahal)], “This [the letter T] was written with blood”; (b) on a drawing of a grave, in English and Arabic,

“Arabs 1948-2008 ”; and (c) in English: “You can run but you can not hide”, “Die you all”, “ 1 is down, 999,999 to

go”, “Arabs need to die” and “Make war not peace”.

709. During the morning of 4 January 2009, Israeli soldiers entered many of the houses in

al-Samouni area. One of the first, around 5 a.m., was the house of Ateya Helmi al-Samouni, a

45-year-old man. Faraj, his 22-year-old son, had already met Israeli soldiers some minutes

earlier as he stepped outside the house to warn his neighbours that their roof was burning. The

soldiers entered Ateya al-Samouni’s house by force, throwing some explosive device, possibly a

grenade. In the midst of the smoke, fire and loud noise, Ateya al-Samouni stepped forward, his

arms raised, and declared that he was the owner of the house. The soldiers shot him while he was

still holding his ID and an Israeli driving licence in his hands. The soldiers then opened gunfire

inside the room in which all the approximately 20 family members were gathered. Several were

injured, Ahmad, a boy of four, particularly seriously. Soldiers with night vision equipment

entered the room and closely inspected each of those present. The soldiers then moved to the

next room and set fire to it. The smoke from that room soon started to suffocate the family. A

witness speaking to the Mission recalled seeing “white stuff” coming out of the mouth of his

17-month-old nephew and helping him to breathe.

710. At about 6.30 a.m. the soldiers ordered the family to leave the house. They had to leave

Ateya’s body behind but were carrying Ahmad, who was still breathing. The family tried to enter

the house of an uncle next door, but were not allowed to do so by the soldiers. The soldiers told

them to take the road and leave the area, but a few metres further a different group of soldiers

stopped them and ordered the men to undress completely. Faraj al-Samouni, who was carrying

the severely injured Ahmad, pleaded with them to be allowed to take the injured to Gaza. The

soldiers allegedly replied using abusive language. They also said “You are bad Arabs”. “You go

to Nitzarim”.

711. Faraj al-Samouni, his mother and others entered the house of an uncle in the

neighbourhood. From there, they called PRCS. As described below, at around 4 p.m. that day

a PRCS ambulance managed to come in the vicinity of the house where Ahmad was lying

wounded, but was prevented by the Israeli armed forces from rescuing him. Ahmad died at

around 2 a.m. during the night of 4 to 5 January.398 The following morning those present in the

house, about 45 persons, decided to leave. They made themselves white flags and walked in the

direction of Salah ad-Din Street. A group of soldiers on the street told them to go back to the

house, but the witness said that they walked on in the direction of Gaza. The soldiers shot at their

feet, without injuring anyone, however. Two kilometres further north on Salah ad-Din Street,

they found ambulances which took the injured to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.

TREATMENT OF AMBOS

717. PRCS had made its first attempt to evacuate the injured from the al-Samouni area on 4

January 2009 around 4 p.m. after receiving a call from the family of Ateya al-Samouni. PRCS

had called ICRC, asking it to coordinate its entry into the area with the Israeli armed forces. A

PRCS ambulance from al-Quds hospital managed to reach the al-Samouni area. The ambulance

had turned west off Salah ad-Din Street when, at one of the first houses in the area, Israeli

soldiers on the ground and on the roof of one of the houses directed their guns at it and ordered it

to stop. The driver and the nurse were ordered to get out of the vehicle, raise their hands, take off

their clothes and lie on the ground. Israeli soldiers then searched them and the vehicle for 5 to

10 minutes. Having found nothing, the soldiers ordered the ambulance team to return to Gaza

City, in spite of their pleas to be allowed to pick up some wounded. In his statement to the

Mission, the ambulance driver recalled seeing women and children huddling under the staircase

in a house, but not being allowed to take them with him.403

732. With regard to the obstruction of emergency medical access to the wounded in the

al-Samouni neighbourhood, the Mission notes that four-year-old Ahmad al-Samouni was still

alive at 4 p.m. on 4 January 2009, when the PRCS ambulance called by his relatives managed to

arrive within what the Mission estimates to be 100 to 200 metres from the house where he was.

In fact, he died about 10 hours later, which suggests that he might have had a good chance of

survival. Israeli soldiers stopped the ambulance and thoroughly searched the driver, nurse and

vehicle.412 Although they did not find anything indicating that the ambulance staff was not on a

genuine emergency mission to evacuate a wounded civilian, they forced the ambulance to return

to Gaza City without the injured Ahmad.

734. The information before it leads the Mission to believe that the Israeli armed forces

arbitrarily prevented the evacuation of the wounded from the al-Samouni area, thereby causing at

least one additional death, worsening of the injuries in others, and severe psychological trauma

in at least some of the victims, particularly children.

737-8  – Palestinians told to walk to Gaza city, and shot whilst doing so, PRCS not allowed rescue

743. While the fire directed at Iyad al-Samouni could have been intended to incapacitate rather

than to kill, by threatening his family members and friends with lethal fire, the Israeli armed

forces ensured that he did not receive lifesaving medical help. They deliberately let him bleed to

death.

744. The Mission found that the witnesses who spoke about the death of Iyad al-Samouni

appeared to be profoundly traumatized by the recollection of his pleading for help from his wife,

children and relatives. They also recalled the helplessness of his family, who were under a very

credible threat of being shot themselves if they came to his help, and who were compelled to

abandon him on the road to bleed to death.

Another shooting:

749. After the midday prayers on 5 January 2009, the Israeli soldiers separated the men from

the women and children. The latter were ordered to walk to Rafah. The Hajjis protested, asking

to be allowed to go to Gaza City, where they had relatives, but the soldiers told them that they

would be shot if they tried to walk to Gaza City. Nasser Hajji and his 18-year-old son were

allowed to walk with the women and children, while the other men stayed behind.420

750. The group of Hajji family members walked down the alley to al-Sekka Street. There they

were joined by members of the Arafat family, who also live in the al-Samouni neighbourhood,

carrying white flags. On al-Sekka Street, one of the Israeli soldiers standing on a rooftop ordered

the families to turn south and walk towards Rafah. The families begged to be allowed to walk to

Gaza City instead. Without warning, the Israeli soldiers opened fire, “shooting at random”

according to Abir Hajji. Ola Masood Arafat, a 28-year-old woman, was struck by a bullet and

died on the spot. Mrs. Hajji was wounded in her right arm. Her three-year-old daughter Shahd

was shot in the chest. Abir Hajji, who was still carrying Shahd, her other children, her mother-inlaw

and others managed to take refuge in a house. There they found out that Shahd was still

alive.

DELIBERATE SHOOTINGS

763. The testimonies of Mr. Mu’een Juha and Mrs. Juha, Mr. Sameh Sawafeary and Mr. Rajab

Darwish Mughrabi, as well as of Mrs. Abir Hajji, all establish that there were no combat

operations in the area at the time of the incident. The Israeli armed forces had attacked

Mr. Juha’s house and that of Mr. Abu Zur, where the Juhas and other families had taken refuge,

forcing them to leave the area. It was the Israeli armed forces that ordered these families to take

the road to Rafah. In sum, the Israeli armed forces deliberately opened fire on a group of persons

they had interacted with during the preceding 24 hours and therefore knew to be civilians, killing

the child Ibrahim Juha.

766 Having prepared two

make-shift white flags, which were carried by Majda Hajaj and Ahmad Muhammad al-Safdi,

25 years old, who was also holding his two-year-old son in his arms, 26 members of the two

families (more than half of them children)425 left the al-Safdi house. They started walking down

the road westwards, where a group of Israeli tanks was standing at a distance of 320 metres.426

They walked very slowly, covering 200 metres in about 10 minutes. The group was some

120 metres away from the Israeli tanks when, without warning, they were fired on from the

direction of the tanks. Majda Hajaj and her mother, Rayya, were hit. Majda died of her injuries

instantly. Rayya tried to flee, but fell to the ground after a few metres.

769. In the light of these reported circumstances, and particularly considering that the civilians

were at a distance of more than 100 metres from them, the Israeli soldiers could not have

perceived an imminent threat from the movement of people in that area, as they would have

expected the civilians to respond to the call for evacuation. The Mission, therefore, finds the

shooting and killing of Majda and Rayya Hajjaj a deliberate act on the part of the Israeli soldiers.

773 Shooting grandmother and 3 girls (5 9 and 3, with white flags)

778-9 – Shot innocents, didn’t let ambos

778. The Mission notes that, in general, Izbat Abd Rabbo and the nearby areas of Jabal

al-Kashef and Jabal al-Rayes appear to have been among the locations in Gaza which saw the

most intense combat during the military operations.430 The testimony of Khalid and Kawthar

Abd Rabbo, however, shows that the Israeli armed forces were not engaged in combat or fearing

an attack at the time of the incident. Two soldiers were sitting on the tank in front of the Abd

Rabbo family house and having a snack. They clearly did not perceive any danger from the

house, its occupants or the surroundings. Moreover, when the family, consisting of a man, a

young and an elderly woman, and three small girls, some of them waving white flags, stepped

out of the house, they stood still for several minutes waiting for instructions from the soldiers.

The Israeli soldiers could, therefore, not reasonably have perceived any threat from the group.

Indeed, the fact that the gunfire was directed at the three girls and, subsequently, at the elderly

woman, and not at the young adult couple, can be seen as further corroborating the finding that

there was no reasonable ground for the soldier shooting to assume that any of the members of the

group were directly participating in the hostilities. The Mission finds that the soldier deliberately

directed lethal fire at Souad, Samar and Amal Abd Rabbo and at their grandmother, Hajja Souad

Abd Rabbo.

779. The Mission further finds that, by preventing Sameeh al-Sheikh from taking the wounded

to the nearest hospital in his ambulance, the Israeli armed forces deliberately further aggravated

the consequences of the shooting. The Mission recalls that the soldiers had forced Sameeh al-

Sheikh and his son to get out of the ambulance, undress and then re-dress. They therefore knew

that they did not constitute a threat. Instead of allowing them to take the gravely wounded Samar

Abd Rabbo to hospital, the soldiers forced Sameeh al-Sheikh and his son to abandon the

ambulance and to walk towards Jabaliyah.

ANOTHER SHOOTING

786. The Mission’s site inspection and the testimony of several witnesses appear to establish

that the group of women and children led by Rouhiyah al-Najjar had slowly walked for at least

20 metres before the shot that killed Rouhiyahher was fired. During that time, Israeli soldiers

standing on the roofs of the houses in the neighbourhood had ample time to observe the group.

The fact that, after shooting Rouhiyah and Yasmine al-Najjar, the soldiers directed warning fire

at the group without injuring anyone, but forcing them to retreat to a house, is further indication

that the soldiers had not observed any threat to them from the group

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT:

800. With regard to the shooting of Muhammad Hekmat Abu Halima and Matar Abu Halima,

the Mission notes that the Israeli soldiers had ordered the tractor on which they were transporting

the wounded to stop and had ordered the two cousins (aged 16 and 17) to come down. They had

complied with those instructions and were standing next to the tractor, when the Israeli soldiers

standing on the roof of a nearby house opened fire on them. The soldiers cannot have been

mistaken about the circumstance that these were two civilians taking gravely wounded persons to

a hospital. The shooting of Muhammad Hekmat Abu Halima and Matar Abu Halima was a direct

lethal attack on two under-age civilians. The fact that they were hit in the chest and the abdomen,

respectively, indicates that the intention was to kill them.

801. The Mission further notes that in this case the Israeli armed forces denied the ambulances

access to the area to evacuate the wounded and then opened fire on the relatives of the wounded

who were trying to take them to the nearest hospital.

SHOOTING ON LOW THRESHOLD

802. The Mission found in the above incidents that the Israeli armed forces repeatedly opened

fire on civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities and who posed no threat to them.

These incidents indicate that the instructions given to the Israeli armed forces moving into Gaza

provided for a low threshold for the use of lethal fire against the civilian population. The Mission

found strong corroboration of this trend emerging from its fact-finding in the testimonies of

Israeli soldiers collected by the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence443 and in the Protocol of the

Rabin Academy’s “Fighters’ Talk”. These testimonies suggest in particular that the instructions

given to the soldiers conveyed two “policies”. Both are an expression of the aim to eliminate as

far as possible any risk to the lives of the Israeli soldiers.

803. The first policy could be summarized, in the words of one of the soldiers: “if we see

something suspect and shoot, better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy.” Another

soldier attributed the following instructions to his battalion commander: “If you are not sure –

shoot. If there is doubt then there is no doubt.” The first soldier summarized the briefing from the

battalion commander as follows “the enemy was hiding behind civilian population. […] if we

suspect someone, we should not give him the benefit of the doubt. Eventually, this could be an

enemy, even if it’s some old woman approaching the house. It could be an old woman carrying

an explosive charge.” A third soldier explained “you don’t only shoot when threatened. The

assumption is that you constantly feel threatened, so anything there threatens you, and you shoot.

No one actually said ‘shoot regardless’ or ‘shoot anything that moves.’ But we were not ordered

to open fire only if there was a real threat.”444

804. The Mission notes that some soldiers stated that they agreed with the instructions to

“shoot in case of doubt.” One of them explained “this is the difference between urban warfare

and a limited confrontation. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.” Another

told of his profound discomfort with the policy and of how he and his comrades had attempted to

question their commander about it after a clearly harmless man was shot.445 While they disagreed

about the legitimacy and morality of the policy, they had little doubt about the terms of the

instructions: each soldier and commander on the ground had to exercise judgement,446 but the

policy was to shoot in case of doubt.

SHOOTING THOSE WHO CROSS RED LINES

805. The second policy clearly emerging from the soldiers’ testimonies is explained by one of

the soldiers as follows: “One of the things in this procedure [the outpost procedure, which is

being applied in areas held by the Israeli armed forces after the Gaza ground invasion] is setting

red lines. It means that whoever crosses this limit is shot, no questions asked. […] Shoot to

kill.”447 In one incident highly relevant to the cases investigated by the Mission because of

factual similarities, a soldier recounted an event he witnessed.448 A family is ordered to leave

their house. For reasons that remain unclear, probably a misunderstanding, the mother and two

children turn left instead of right after having walked between 100 and 200 metres from their

house. They thereby cross a “red line” established by the Israeli unit (of whose existence the

mother and children could have no knowledge). An Israeli marksman on the roof of the house

they had just left opens fire on the woman and her two children, killing them. As the soldier

speaking at the Rabin Academy’s “Fighters’ Talk” a month later observes, “from our

perspective, he [the marksman] did his job according to the orders he was given”.

These

incidents suggest that the Israeli armed forces made ample use of gunfire to “communicate” with

the civilian population, to issue injunctions to civilians not to walk or not to drive any further in a

certain direction or to immediately retreat to a building they were about to leave. The terrifying

effect this sort of non-verbal communication had on those at the receiving end is evident, as is

the likelihood of lethal consequences.

808. The Mission also read testimony from soldiers who recounted cases in which, although a

civilian had come within a distance from them which would have required opening fire under the

rules imparted to them, they decided not to shoot because they did not consider the civilian a

threat to them.

FINDINGS ON SHOOTING CASES:

The principle of distinction was reportedly incorporated in the following terms:

“Strikes shall be directed against military objectives and combatants only. It is absolutely

prohibited to intentionally strike civilians or civilian objects (in contrast to incidental

proportional harm).”454

810. In reviewing the above incidents the Mission found in every case that the Israeli armed

forces had carried out direct intentional strikes against civilians. The only exception is the

shelling of the Abu Halima family home, where the Mission does not have sufficient information

on the military situation prevailing at the time to reach a conclusion.

811. The Mission found that, on the basis of the facts it was able to ascertain, in none of the

cases reviewed were there any grounds which could have reasonably induced the Israeli armed

forces to assume that the civilians attacked were in fact taking a direct part in the hostilities and

had thus lost their immunity against direct attacks.455

812. The Mission therefore finds that the Israeli armed forces have violated the prohibition

under customary international law and reflected in article 51 (2) of Additional Protocol I that the

civilian population as such will not be the object of attacks. This finding applies to the attacks on

the houses of Ateya and Wa’el al-Samouni, the shooting of Iyad al-Samouni, of Shahd Hajji and

Ola Masood Arafat, of Ibrahim Juha, of Rayya and Majda Hajaj, of Amal, Souad, Samar, and

Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo, of Rouhiyah al-Najjar, and of Muhammad Hekmat Abu Halima and

Matar Abu Halima. In these incidents, 34 Palestinian civilians lost their lives owing to Israeli fire

intentionally directed at them. Numerous others were injured, some very severely and with

permanent consequences.

819. The facts ascertained by the Mission establish that in the incidents investigated the Israeli

armed forces did not use their best efforts to provide humanitarian organizations access to the

wounded. On the contrary, the facts indicate that, while the circumstances permitted giving

access, the Israeli armed forces arbitrarily withheld it.

820. On this basis, the Mission finds a violation of the obligation under customary international

law to treat the wounded humanely.

821. The conduct of the Israeli armed forces amounted to violations of the right to life where it

resulted in death, and to a violation of the right to physical integrity, and to cruel and inhuman

treatment in other cases, which constitutes a violation of articles 6 and 7 of the International

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

ATTACK ON AL-MAQADMA MOSQUE

824. On the evening of 3 January 2009, between 5 and 6 p.m., a large number of people had

gathered in the mosque for evening prayers. Witnesses indicate that between 200 and 300 men

had gathered on the first floor.459 A number of women had also congregated in the basement at

that time. Witnesses explained that in time of fear or emergency it was the tradition to combine

sunset and evening prayers.460 In addition, the Mission heard that, while some time normally

elapses between the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer and the prayers beginning, at this time

it was the practice to begin prayers almost immediately.

825. The witnesses indicated that prayers had ended and the sermon was just beginning. At that

point there was an explosion in the doorway to the mosque. One of the two wooden doors was

blown off its hinges and all the way across the prayer area to the opposite wall.

826. As a result of the explosion at least 15 people died. Almost all were inside the mosque at

the time. One of the casualties was a boy who had been sitting at the entrance. His leg was blown

off by the missile strike and found afterwards on the roof of the mosque. A large number, around

40, suffered injuries. Many were taken to the Kamal Idwan hospital for treatment.

ISRAEL’S POSITION

2. The position of the Israeli Government and the Israeli armed forces

831. The Israeli armed forces’ response to the allegations states:

… relating to a strike against the “Maqadme” mosque in Beit-Lahiya on January 3rd, 2009,

it was discovered that as opposed to the claims, the mosque was not attacked at all.

Furthermore, it was found that the supposed uninvolved civilians who were the casualties

of the attack were in fact Hamas operatives killed while fighting against the IDF.461

832. Apart from the apparent contradictions it contains, the Mission notes that the statement

does not indicate in any way the nature of the inquiry, the source of its information or the

reliability and credibility of such sources.

833. In July 2009 the Israeli Government repeated the same position

838. In the absence of any explanation as to the circumstances that led to the missile strike on

al-Maqadmah mosque and taking into account the credible and reliable accounts the Mission

heard from multiple witnesses, as well as the matters it could review for itself by visiting the site,

the Mission concludes that the mosque was intentionally targeted by the Israeli armed forces.

The Mission also takes into account the precision and sophistication of the Israeli armed forces’

munitions in making this finding.

839. The Mission’s finding is strengthened in the face of the unsatisfactory and demonstrably

false position of the Israeli Government.

840. It follows that this was an attack on the civilian population as such and not on a military

objective.

Another Deliberate killing (Mission gets sarcastic):

855. Israel’s position is that the al-Daya house was destroyed as a result of an “operational

error” made at some point in the planning of the operation. It says the target that should have

been hit was a neighbouring house storing weapons. The Mission has interviewed the residents

of the neighbouring houses and visited the site. No neighbouring house was attacked at any time

after the al-Daya house was destroyed. The Mission finds it difficult to understand how a target

apparently important enough to be targeted for such definitive destruction in the first place, as a

result of what it apparently contained, could then remain free from attack for the remaining

12 days of the land operation.

DELIBERATE ATTACK ON CIVILIANS

880. While international humanitarian law does not explicitly prohibit the use of flechettes in

all circumstances, the principles of proportionality and precautions necessary in attack render

their use illegal. Flechettes are 4-cm-long metal darts used as anti-personnel weapons that

penetrate straight through human bone and can cause serious, often fatal, injuries.480 Discharged

from tank shells and aircraft or UAV-launched missiles, they are fired in salvo and are therefore

an area anti-personnel weapon. They are, therefore, by their nature lacking in discrimination.

881. The Mission notes that, during the condolence ceremony, flechette shells were fired in the

vicinity of a large group of civilians, killing 5 and injuring more than 20. To consider the attacks

indiscriminate would imply that there was a military objective underlying the attacks in the first

place. The Mission has no information on which to base such a conclusion and notes the silence

of the Israeli authorities on the incident.

882. The Mission therefore considers that the families participating in the condolence

ceremony were civilians and taking no active part in hostilities. The attacks on the condolence

tent on the morning of 4 January were entirely unjustified and unnecessary. The attacks seemed

designed to kill and maim the victims directly and otherwise to terrify the people in the area

rather than to pursue any genuine military objective.

883. The Mission finds that the attack on the Abd al-Dayem family condolence tents

constitutes an intentional attack against the civilian population and civilian objects, wilful killing

and the wilful infliction of suffering. In particular, the Mission believes that any party using a

flechette missile in circumstances that are totally or predominantly civilian cannot fail to

anticipate the severe and unnecessary suffering of the civilians affected.

884. Based on the facts ascertained, the Mission therefore finds there to have been violations of

customary international law in respect of a deliberate attack on civilians. It considers the attack

was not only an attack intended to kill but also to spread terror among the civilian population,

given the nature of the weapon used. (See art. 51 (2) of Additional Protocol I.)

ATTACK ON CIVILIAN INFRASTRUCTURE

THE FLOUR MILL

919. On 9 January, at around 3 or 4 a.m., the flour mill was hit by an air strike, possibly by an

F-16. The missile struck the floor that housed one of the machines indispensable to the mill’s

functioning, completely destroying it. The guard who was on duty at the time called Mr. Hamada

to inform him that the building had been hit and was on fire. He was unhurt. In the next 60 to

90 minutes the mill was hit several times by missiles fired from an Apache helicopter. These

missiles hit the upper floors of the factory, destroying key machinery. Adjoining buildings,

including the grain store, were not hit. The strikes entirely disabled the factory and it has not

been back in operation since. A large amount of grain remains at the site but cannot be

processed.

923. The owners and employees of the flour mill were forced to evacuate the building twice

because of the two recorded warnings left on the answerphone, which were not followed by air

strikes. They were put into a state of fear as a result of the false alarms. When the mill was hit on

9 January, the strike happened without prior warning, raising questions about the efficacy or

seriousness of the warnings system used by the Israeli armed forces.

924. The consequences of the strike on the flour mill were significant. Not only are all the

employees out of work, the capacity of Gaza to produce milled flour, the most basic staple

ingredient of the local diet, has been greatly diminished. As a result, the population of Gaza is

now more dependent on the Israeli authorities’ granting permission for flour and bread to enter

the Gaza Strip.

927. No other buildings in the industrial compound belonging to the Hamadas were damaged at

the time of the strikes. It appears that the strikes on the flour mill were intentional and precise.

928. The Hamada brothers are well-known businessmen. The Israeli authorities did not appear

to consider them either before or after the military operations to be a threat, given the

unrestricted issuance of their Businessman Cards and their ability to travel to Israel afterwards.

The issuance of a Businessman Card is no trifle, especially in the context of the ongoing

restrictions on trade. It is not plausible that the Israeli authorities would issue such a document to

any party it regarded with suspicion.

929. The only issue that remains to be examined is whether there was any reason for the flour

mill to have been deemed a military objective on 9 January. The building was one of the tallest

in the area and would have offered extensive views to the Israeli armed forces. The Mission

notes that taking control of the building might be deemed a legitimate objective in the

circumstances. However, by 9 January the Israeli armed forces were fully aware that the flour

mill could be evacuated at short notice by using the warning message system. If the reason for

attacking the mill was to gain control of it for observation and control purposes, it made no sense

to bomb the principal machinery and to destroy the upper floors. There is also no suggestion that

the Israeli armed forces considered the building to be a source of enemy fire.

930. The nature of the strikes on the mill and in particular the precise targeting of crucial

machinery on one of the mid-level floors suggests that the intention was to disable its productive

capacity. There appears to be no plausible justification for the extensive damage to the flour mill

if the sole objective was to take control of the building. It thus appears that the only purpose was

to put an end to the production of flour in the Gaza Strip.

931. From the facts it ascertained, the Mission finds that there has been a violation of the grave

breaches provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Unlawful and wanton destruction which

is not justified by military necessity would amount to a war crime.

932. Having concluded that the strikes were without any military justification, and therefore

wanton and unlawful, the Mission finds it useful to consider if there was any non-military

purpose to the strikes.

933. The aim of the strike, if not military, could only have been to destroy the local capacity to

produce flour. The question is whether such deliberate destruction of the sole remaining flourproducing

capacity in the Gaza Strip can be described as having been done for the purpose of

denying sustenance to the civilian population.

937. From the facts ascertained by it, the Mission finds that the destruction of the mill was

carried out for the purpose of denying sustenance to the civilian population, which is a violation

of customary international law as reflected in article 54 (2) of Additional Protocol I and may

constitute a war crime.

941. The Mission finds that, as a result of its actions to destroy food and water supplies and

infrastructure, Israel has violated article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political

Rights, article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and

article 12 (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against

Women.

ATTACK ON CHICKEN FARMS

949. Mr. Sawafeary and Mr. Mughrabi informed the Mission that they had watched Israeli

armoured bulldozers systematically destroy land, crops, chickens and farm infrastructure.

Mr. Mughrabi stated that he watched the bulldozers plough through fields with crops and trees,

destroying everything in their path. Mr. Sawafeary stated that he saw less, as he was watching

through a small opening because he was afraid of being seen and shot. He stated that he saw only

two or three “tanks”, but was not in a position to say whether there were more. He watched as

the armoured bulldozers destroyed the chicken farms, crushing the wire mesh coops with the

chickens inside. He could not see his own farms and the chickens he could see being destroyed

were not his. He noted that the drivers of the tanks would spend hours flattening the chicken

coops, sometimes stopping for coffee breaks, before resuming their work.

950. When he left Mr. Mughrabi’s house on 8 January, Mr. Sawafeary was able to see that his

own farms did not appear to have been subjected to the destruction he had witnessed from inside

the house. However, when he was able to return to his home after the Israeli withdrawal all

31,000 of his chickens had been killed and the coops systematically flattened.

951. The Mission visited the site and saw the still flattened mesh coops, which had been

covered with corrugated iron, as well as the remains of water tanks and machinery. The Mission

was also shown the remnants of a small mosque near the end of one of the lines of the coops that

had been destroyed. The remains of some dead chickens were still visible and Mr. Sawafeary

stated that it had been a mammoth task to clean up the area when he returned. He pointed out

that, in addition to the loss of livestock, the farm had been completely automated with significant

investment in machinery, all of which had been destroyed, as had the plant for packaging the

eggs. In short, the business had been razed to the ground. A protective grille, believed to be part

of a D-9 armoured bulldozer, was found at the site.

954. Mr. Sawafeary told the Mission that he and his family together supplied approximately

35 per cent of the egg market in Gaza. His own farms supplied over 10 per cent. He noted that it

was not only his farms that had been destroyed but also most of his family’s farms had been

destroyed in the same way as his. He estimated that close to 100,000 chickens were killed in the

process.

956. The systematic destruction along with the large numbers of killings of civilians suggest

premeditation and a high level of planning. Even in the context of a campaign that had many

serious violations of international humanitarian law, the events in Zeytoun at this time stand out.

957. The Mission finds that the destruction of the land and farms in the area was not justified

by the pursuit of any military objective. The Israeli armed forces that arrived took control of the

area within a matter of hours. They remained there until 18 January. The destruction of the land

was not necessary to move the tanks or equipment or gain any particular visual advantage.

958. An inspection of the scene indicates that the area is relatively sparsely populated. The

Mission rejects the idea that the Sawafeary farm was destroyed in the pursuit of any military

objective.

959. The destruction of the farms appears to have been wanton and not militarily necessary.

Not only were the coops with the chickens destroyed, but all of the plant and machinery of the

farms as well.

960. From the facts ascertained by it, the Mission finds that the Sawafeary chicken farms, the

31,000 chickens and the plant and material necessary for the business were systematically and

deliberately destroyed, and that this constituted a deliberate act of wanton destruction not

justified by any military necessity.

Attack on WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT:

974. Notwithstanding the possible military advantage offered to the Israeli armed forces by the

plant’s location, the Mission cannot find any justification for striking the lagoon with what must

have been a very powerful missile, sufficient to cause a breach 5 metres deep and 22 metres

wide. It is highly unlikely that Palestinian armed groups could have taken up positions in or

around the lagoon after the initial occupation of the area by Israeli armed forces: any such

groups would have been exposed in the open area. The fact that the lagoon wall was struck

precisely there where it would cause outflow of the raw sewage suggests that the strike was

deliberate and premeditated.

ATTACK ON WELLS

Factual findings

984. From the facts ascertained by it, the Mission finds that the Namar wells were destroyed by

multiple air strikes on the first day of the Israeli aerial attack and that civil administration

buildings located at approximately 50 metres were also destroyed.

985. The question remains as to whether the Israeli air strikes on the Namar wells group were

deliberate or made in error. The Mission notes that the deployment systems and aircraft used in

the strikes of 27 December (principally F-16 fighter jets and UAVs) are capable of a high degree

of precision. It notes also that, by all accounts, a great deal of preparation had been put into

determining and designating the targets of air strikes. The Mission considers it unlikely that a

target the size of the Namar wells could have been hit by multiple strikes in error, given the

nature of the deployment systems and the distance between the wells and any neighbouring

buildings. The facts thus indicate that the strikes on the Namar wells group were intentional.

986. The Mission found no grounds to suggest that there was any military advantage to be

gained from hitting the wells. There was no suggestion that Palestinian armed groups had used

the wells for any purpose.

988. The right to food clearly includes the right to have adequate access to water. The Mission

finds that this was denied to the people served by the Namar wells. It took some 75 days to repair

them

DELIBERATE DESTRUCTION OF RESIDENTIAL HOUSING

997. Two further cases investigated by the Mission also exemplify the deliberate demolition of

residential housing

1004. These figures confirm that a first phase of extensive destruction of housing for the

“operational necessity” of the advancing Israeli forces in these areas was followed by a period of

relative idleness on the part of the Israeli bulldozers and explosives engineers. But during the last

three days, aware of their imminent withdrawal, the Israeli armed forces engaged in another

wave of systematic destruction of civilian buildings.

DESTROYING THE ECONOMY

1009. Mr. Amr Hamad indicated that 324 factories had been destroyed during the Israeli military

operations at a cost of 40,000 jobs. In its detailed written report on the impact of the Israeli

military activities, the Palestinian Federation of Industries points out that 200 businesses and

factories were destroyed in Gaza City, 101 in northern Gaza and 20 in southern Gaza. Of the

total 324 premises damaged, almost 30 per cent were linked to the metals and engineering sector,

over 20 per cent to construction and 16 per cent to furniture businesses. Other sectors with

significant losses were aluminium, food, sewing textiles, chemicals and cosmetics, plastics and

rubber, paper and carton, and handicrafts. The Federation states that more than half were totally

destroyed.

1010. The Federation emphasized that “the Gaza Strip’s most crucial industries, and ones which

require the greatest investment, were most severely hit”.519 Eleven of the 324 premises struck by

the Israeli armed forces were linked to the food industry and the losses incurred amount to some

US$ 37 million, i.e. over one third of all the losses to the industrial sector. Similarly, while the

construction sector suffered 69 of the 324 strikes, this represented just under 30 per cent of the

total damage. The report notes that the majority of the losses resulting from the strikes on the

324 premises related to machinery costs (50 per cent), while just over a quarter relate to the

buildings themselves.

CONCRETE FACTORY DESTROYED

1012. One of the incidents Mr. Hamad referred to at the public hearing relates to the destruction

of the only cement-packaging plant in Gaza. The Mission also interviewed its owner, Mr. Atta

Abu Jubbah.520 According to the reconstruction of the events, the Israeli armed forces began

striking the plant from the air, damaging it significantly. Later ground forces — equipped with

bulldozers and tanks — moved in and used mines and explosives to destroy the silo that used to

contain 4,000 tons of cement. Helicopters launched rockets to destroy the main manufacturing

line and fired holes into the cement containers. Bulldozers were used to destroy the factory walls.

Over four days the factory was systematically destroyed. The Mission spoke with a number of

other witnesses able to verify this account and considers it to be reliable. Among those witnesses

was a civil engineer who inspected the site and confirmed that certain aspects of the destruction

could have been achieved only by placing explosives inside the building. The silo had not been

entirely destroyed in the aerial attacks, so explosives were attached to its supporting columns.

1013. The plant was an important part of Gaza’s construction industry. It produced cement in

bags, selling 200 tons per day with a profit of US$ 15 per ton. The company is valued at some

US$ 12 million. As mentioned above, the owner’s house was also destroyed by rocket fire.

1014. The owner is one of fewer than 100 businessmen who are in possession of the

Businessman Card issued by Israel. The Mission notes that the plant was not destroyed during

the aerial phase but was systematically reduced to rubble in a concerted effort over several days

at the end of the military operations.

1015. The destruction of Mr. Atta Abu Jubbah’s plant forms part of what appears to have been

a very deliberate strategy of attacking the construction industry. The Palestinian Federation of

Industries also provides detail on the systematic and total destruction of the Abu Eida factories

for ready-mix concrete. They were established in 1993. Nineteen of the 27 concrete factories

were reported to have been destroyed, representing 85 per cent of the productive capacity.

1016. The ability to produce and supply concrete in a context where external supplies are

entirely controlled by Israel is a matter not only of economic importance but arguably one of

human necessity to satisfy the basic need for shelter. Even if the population can get by in

makeshift accommodation or by living in cramped conditions with their extended families, the

capacity to repair the massive damage done to buildings without internally produced concrete is

severely reduced. To the extent that concrete is allowed to enter at all, it is significantly more

expensive than domestically produced concrete.

1017. There appears to have been no military reason or justification for destroying the factory.

This conclusion is borne out by the long established trading history of the owners and their

recognition through the Businessman Cards.

DESTRUCTION OF FOOD INDUSTRIES

1018. As already reported, more than a third of all egg factories were destroyed by the Israeli

armed forces. Other testimonies, for example that of the Mayor of al-Atatra,521 who referred to

the destruction of his sister’s chicken farms, indicated that a substantial part of the chicken

farming industry appears to have been deliberately and systematically destroyed.

1019. The Mission also notes the destruction of the al-Wadiyah Group’s factories. The

al-Wadiyah Group employed some 170 people, had been in business since 1954 and produced a

variety of food and drinks. Dr. al-Wadiyah presented a detailed account of its activities and

losses to the Mission.522

1021. The Mission also reviewed satellite images showing significant destruction of

greenhouses throughout Gaza.523 In total, it is estimated that over 30 hectares of greenhouses

were demolished; 11.2 hectares were destroyed in Gaza City and 9.5 hectares in north Gaza. The

Mission found that the large-scale and systematic destruction of greenhouses was not justified by

any possible military objective.

HUMAN SHIELDS

1032+ – Palestinians used as Human shields by Israel. Found testimony to be “credible”

1071 – Palestinian used as human shield was then detained for two days in a location, without being given food or water. He was subsequently beaten

1095. In conclusion, from the facts it gathered, the Mission finds that Messrs. Majdi Abd Rabbo,

Abbas Ahmad Ibrahim Halawa, Mahmoud Abd Rabbo al-Ajrami and AD/03 were captured by

the Israeli armed forces while they were in their homes, in some cases together with their

families, and were then forced at gunpoint to search houses together with the Israeli armed

forces. The Mission also finds on the basis of those facts that they were all subject to cruel,

inhuman and degrading treatment during their captivity.

DETENTION OF PALESTINIANS: Degrading, little food, no toilets, beatings

1107. According to information that the Mission received, hundreds of Gazans, including

women and children, were detained by the Israeli armed forces during the military operations.

Their exact number is not known. Some were held for hours or days in homes, other buildings or

sandpits in the Gaza Strip; others were taken into detention in Israel, either immediately or after

an initial period of detention in the Gaza Strip. A number of people were held in army bases (e.g.

Sde Teiman544), others were held in prison, and some released detainees do not know where they

were held. Some detainees have reported abuse during detention, including beatings, and being

kept in unsanitary conditions, without any or with only inadequate food or toilet facilities. Some

released persons have reported that they were used as human shields during their detention, for

example, forced to walk in front of soldiers and enter buildings ahead of soldiers.545

1108. On 28 January 2009, seven Israeli human rights organizations appealed to the Israeli

Military Judge Advocate General and to the Attorney General, concerning the “appalling

conditions in which Palestinians arrested during the fighting in Gaza were held, and the

humiliating and inhuman treatment to which they were subjected from the time of their arrest

until their transfer to the custody of the Israel Prison Service.”546

1109. The number of detainees that were eventually taken to Israeli prisons has been estimated

at around 100

1136. On arrival his handcuffs were removed and he was taken to a ward, which consisted of

small one-man cells with iron doors and no windows. The cells each contained an iron bench.

Two hours later, he was blindfolded and taken to an interrogation room, where he was stripped

and made to stand alone, naked, for almost an hour before his clothes were returned and he was

handcuffed and shackled. He was taken by four people to another room, where he was beaten

with the butt of a rifle while also being kicked and punched several times. The beating lasted for

about 30 minutes. He was then left alone in the room for about 2 hours. He was then taken to a

large communal space referred by the soldiers as the “tents.” There were seven or eight such

spaces or tents spread across the prison.

1137. AD/02 said that he was unable to stand owing to the severe injuries sustained during the

beatings and had to be carried to the tents. He was taken to a doctor, given some medicines and

allowed to take a shower. AD/02 stated that he stayed in the tent area for about a week before

being transferred to a cell occupied by four people. The cell had an iron bed and a bunk bed.

Two people including AD/02 slept on the floor. The cell was dark and filthy. There was no clean

water and no toilet. During the entire week the men had to relieve themselves in the cell, which

was never cleaned.

1147. AD/03 stated that the house was being used as a military base and sniper position. On the

second day of detention the Israeli soldiers began to use some detainees as human shields. By

then the detainees had been without food and sleep for a day. They had been subjected to what

AD/03 described as psychological torture. There were constant death threats and insults. To

carry out house searches as human shields the Israeli soldiers took off AD/03’s blindfold but he

remained handcuffed. He was forced to walk in front of the soldiers and told that, if he saw

someone in the house but failed to tell them, he would be killed. He was instructed to search

each room in each house cupboard by cupboard. After one house was completed he was taken to

another house with a gun pressed against his head and told to carry out the same procedure there.

He was punched, slapped and insulted throughout the process.

1154. On 19 January, eight people, including AD/03, his brother and one other man from the

group of seven who were taken to Beersheba on 16 January, were shackled inside the bus, made

to bend forward and keep their heads down, between their knees, and were taken to Negev

prison, a journey that lasted approximately four hours. During this journey they were

continuously beaten, kicked and punched by four or five soldiers on board.

1155. On arrival at Negev, they were severely beaten by the prison security for approximately

one and a half hours before being put into cells and told that they were caught during battle and

were illegal combatants

1164 There was no combat activity by the persons reporting, nor any likelihood of such

activity being under way in the area or nearby at the time that the soldiers started the

operation against civilians in the three locations. None of the civilians was armed or

posed any apparent threat to the soldiers. In two of the incidents they were holding

white flags as a sign of their non-combatant status;

• It is clear in two of the incidents that none of those detained had been asked for their

names by the soldiers for several days. This establishes that there was no definite

suspicion against them that they were combatants or otherwise engaged in hostile

activities;

• In all cases a number of persons were herded together and detained in open spaces

for several hours at a time and exposed to extreme weather conditions;

• The soldiers deliberately subjected civilians, including women and children, to cruel,

inhuman and degrading treatment throughout their ordeal in order to terrorize,

intimidate and humiliate them. The men were made to strip, sometimes naked, at

different stages of their detention. All the men were handcuffed in a most painful

manner and blindfolded, increasing their sense of fear and helplessness;

• Men, women and children were held close to artillery and tank positions, where

constant shelling and firing was taking place, thus not only exposing them to danger,

but increasing their fear and terror. This was deliberate, as is apparent from the fact

that the sandpits to which they were taken were specially prepared and surrounded by

barbed wire;

• During their detention in the Gaza Strip, whether in the open or in houses, the

detainees were subjected to beatings and other physical abuse that amounts to torture.

This continued systematically throughout their detention;

Civilians were used as human shields by the Israeli armed forces on more than one

occasion in one of the three incidents. Taking account of other incidents in which the

Mission has found this to have happened, it would not be difficult to conclude that

this was a practice repeatedly adopted by the Israeli armed forces during the military

operation in Gaza;

• Many civilians were transferred across the border to Israel and detained in open

spaces as well as in prisons;

• The methods of interrogation amounted not only to torture in some of the cases, but

also to physical and moral coercion of civilians to obtain information;

• These persons were subjected to torture, maltreatment and foul conditions in the

prisons. They were deprived of food and water for several hours at a time and any

food they did receive was inadequate and inedible;

THE OVERALL ATTACK: PLANNED, ONE ERROR ONLY

1187. The Mission notes that it has found only one example where the Israeli authorities have

acknowledged that an error had occurred. This was in relation to the deaths of 22 members of the

al-Daya family in Zeytoun. The Government of Israel explained that its armed forces had

intended to strike the house next door, but that errors were made in the planning of the

operation.574 The Mission expresses elsewhere its concerns about this explanation (see chap. XI).

However, since it appears to be the only incident that has elicited an admission of error by the

Israeli authorities, the Mission takes the view that the Government of Israel does not consider the

other strikes brought to its attention to be the result of similar or other errors.

ISRAEL SAYS IT HIT TARGETS

1188. In relation to air strikes, the Mission notes the statement issued in Hebrew posted on the

website of the Israeli armed forces on 23 March 2009:

Official data gathered by the Air Force concluded that 99 per cent of the firing that

was carried out hit targets accurately. It also concluded that over 80 per cent of the bombs

and missiles used by the Air Force are defined as accurate and their use reduces innocent

casualties significantly…575

1189. The Mission understands this to mean that in over 80 per cent of its attacks the Air Force

deployed weapons considered to be accurate by definition – what are known colloquially as

precision weapons as a result of guidance technology. In the other 20 per cent of attacks,

therefore, it apparently used unguided bombs. According to the Israeli armed forces, the fact that

these 20 per cent were unguided did not diminish their accuracy in hitting their targets, but may

have caused greater damage than those caused by precision or “accurate” weapons.

1190. These represent extremely important findings by the Israeli Air Force. It means that what

was struck was meant to be struck

1191. Taking into account the ability to plan, the means to execute plans with the most

developed technology available, the indication that almost no errors occurred and the

determination by investigating authorities thus far that no violations occurred, the Mission finds

that the incident and patterns of events that are considered in this report have resulted from

deliberate planning and policy decisions throughout the chain of command, down to the standard

operating procedures and instructions given to the troops on the ground.

ISRAELI GENERALS THINKING

B. The development of strategic objectives in Israeli military thinking

1192. Israel’s operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have had certain consistent

features. In particular, the destruction of buildings, including houses, has been a recurrent tactical

theme.576 The specific means Israel has adopted to meet its military objectives in the Occupied

Palestinian Territory and in Lebanon have repeatedly been censured by the United Nations

Security Council, especially its attacks on houses.577 The military operations from 27 December

to 18 January did not occur in a vacuum, either in terms of proximate causes in relation to the

Hamas/Israeli dynamics or in relation to the development of Israeli military thinking about how

best to describe the nature of its military objectives.

1193. A review of the available information reveals that, while many of the tactics remain the

same, the reframing of the strategic goals has resulted in a qualitative shift from relatively

focused operations578 to massive and deliberate destruction.

1194. In its operations in southern Lebanon in 2006, there emerged from Israeli military

thinking a concept known as the Dahiya doctrine, as a result of the approach taken to the Beirut

neighbourhood of that name.579 Major General Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli Northern Command

chief, expressed the premise of the doctrine:

1195. What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from

which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage

and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military

bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.580

1196. After the war in southern Lebanon in 2006, a number of senior former military figures

appeared to develop the thinking that underlay the strategy set out by Gen. Eiskenot. In particular

Major General (Ret.) Giora Eiland581 has argued that, in the event of another war with

Hizbullah,582 the target must not be the defeat of Hizbullah but “the elimination of the Lebanese

military, the destruction of the national infrastructure and intense suffering among the

population… Serious damage to the Republic of Lebanon, the destruction of homes and

infrastructure, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people are consequences that can

influence Hizbollah’s behaviour more than anything else”.583

1197. These thoughts, published in October 2008 were preceded by one month by the reflections

of Col. (Ret.) Gabriel Siboni:584

With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and

with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a

response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will

demand long and expensive reconstruction processes. The strike must be carried out as

quickly as possible, and must prioritize damaging assets over seeking out each and every

launcher. Punishment must be aimed at decision makers and the power elite… In

Lebanon, attacks should both aim at Hizbollah’s military capabilities and should target

economic interests and the centres of civilian power that support the organization.

Moreover, the closer the relationship between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Government,

the more the elements of the Lebanese State infrastructure should be targeted. Such a

response will create a lasting memory among … Lebanese decision makers, thereby

increasing Israeli deterrence and reducing the likelihood of hostilities against Israel for an

extended period. At the same time, it will force Syria, Hizbollah, and Lebanon to commit

to lengthy and resource-intensive reconstruction programmes…

This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well. There, the IDF will be

required to strike hard at Hamas and to refrain from the cat and mouse games of searching

for Qassam rocket launchers. The IDF should not be expected to stop the rocket and

missile fire against the Israeli home front through attacks on the launchers themselves, but

by means of imposing a ceasefire on the enemy.585

1198. General Eisenkot used the language quoted above while he was in active service in a

senior command position and clarified that this was not a theoretical idea but an approved plan.

Major General Eiland, though retired, was a man of considerable seniority. Colonel Siboni, while

less senior than the other two, was nonetheless an experienced officer writing on his field of

expertise in a publication regarded as serious.

1199. The Mission does not have to consider whether Israeli military officials were directly

influenced by these writings. It is able to conclude from a review of the facts on the ground that

it witnessed for itself that what is prescribed as the best strategy appears to have been precisely

what was put into practice.

ATTACKING INFRASTRUCTURE

1200. The Mission is aware of the official statements on the goals of the military operations:

The Operation was limited to what the IDF believed necessary to accomplish its

objectives: to stop the bombardment of Israeli civilians by destroying and damaging the

mortar and rocket launching apparatus and its supporting infrastructure

The issue that is of special concern to the Mission is the conceptualization of the

“supporting infrastructure”.

1204. On 6 January 2009, during the military operations in Gaza, Deputy Prime Minister Eli

Yishai587 stated: “It [should be] possible to destroy Gaza, so they will understand not to mess

with us”. He added that “it is a great opportunity to demolish thousands of houses of all the

terrorists, so they will think twice before they launch rockets”. “I hope the operation will come to

an end with great achievements and with the complete destruction of terrorism and Hamas. In

my opinion, they should be razed to the ground, so thousands of houses, tunnels and industries

will be demolished”. He added that “residents of the South are strengthening us, so the operation

will continue until a total destruction of Hamas [is achieved]”.588

1205. On 2 February 2009, after the end of the military operations, Eli Yishai went on: “Even if

the rockets fall in an open air or to the sea, we should hit their infrastructure, and destroy

100 homes for every rocket fired.”589

1206. On 13 January 2009, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, was quoted as saying:

We have proven to Hamas that we have changed the equation. Israel is not a country

upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on

its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.590

1207. It is in the context of comments such as these that the massive destruction of businesses,

agricultural land, chicken farms and residential houses has to be understood. In particular, the

Mission notes the large-scale destruction that occurred in the days leading up to the end of the

operations. During the withdrawal phase it appears that possibly thousands of homes were

destroyed.

1208. The concept of what constituted the supporting infrastructure has to be understood not

only in the context of the military operations of December and January, but in the tightening of

the restrictions of access to goods and people into and out of Gaza, especially since Hamas took

power. The Mission does not accept that these restrictions can be characterized as primarily an

attempt to limit the flow of materials to armed groups. The expected impact, and the Mission

believes primary purpose, was to bring about a situation in which the civilian population would

find life so intolerable that they would leave (if that were possible) or turn Hamas out of office,

as well as to collectively punish the civilian population.

1209. The Israeli Government has stated:

While Hamas operates ministries and is in charge of a variety of administrative and

traditionally governmental functions in the Gaza Strip, it still remains a terrorist

organization. Many of the ostensibly civilian elements of its regime are in reality active

components of its terrorist and military efforts. Indeed, Hamas does not separate its

civilian and military activities in the manner in which a legitimate government might.

Instead, Hamas uses apparatuses under its control, including quasi-governmental

institutions, to promote its terrorist activity.592

1210. The framing of the military objectives Israel sought to strike is thus very wide indeed.

There is, in particular, a lack of clarity about the concept of promoting “terrorist activity”: since

Israel claims there is no real division between civilian and military activities and it considers

Hamas to be a terrorist organization, it would appear that anyone who supports Hamas in any

way may be considered as promoting its terrorist activity. Hamas was the clear winner of the

latest elections in Gaza. It is not far-fetched for the Mission to consider that Israel regards very

large sections of the Gazan civilian population as part of the “supporting infrastructure”.

1211. The indiscriminate and disproportionate impact of the restrictions on the movement of

goods and people indicates that, from as early as some point in 2007, Israel had already

determined its view about what constitutes attacking the supporting infrastructure, and it appears

to encompass effectively the population of Gaza.

1212. A statement of objectives that explicitly admits the intentional targeting of civilian objects

as part of the Israeli strategy is attributed to the Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Dan Harel.

While the Israeli military operations in Gaza were under way, Maj. Gen. Harel was reported as

saying, in a meeting with local authorities in southern Israel:

This operation is different from previous ones. We have set a high goal which we

are aiming for. We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas

government and all its wings. […] We are hitting government buildings, production

factories, security wings and more. We are demanding governmental responsibility from

Hamas and are not making distinctions between the various wings. After this operation

there will not be one Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the

rules of the game.593

1213. The Israeli military conception of what was necessary in a future war with Hamas seems

to have been developed from at least the time of the 2006 conflict in southern Lebanon. It finds

its origin in a military doctrine that views disproportionate destruction and creating maximum

disruption in the lives of many people as a legitimate means to achieve military and political

goals.

1214. Through its overly broad framing of the “supporting infrastructure”, the Israeli armed

forces have sought to construct a scope for their activities that, in the Mission’s view, was

designed to have inevitably dire consequences for the non-combatants in Gaza.

1215. Statements by political and military leaders prior to and during the military operations in

Gaza leave little doubt that disproportionate destruction and violence against civilians were part

of a deliberate policy.594

1217+ – blockade

1223. The consequences for day-to-day life were considerable. Some areas of the Gaza Strip

were left without electricity for several hours a week, many households, especially those in

buildings that depend on the use of water pumps, had access to water only a few hours a week.

Intermittent electricity supply damaged medical equipment in hospitals and doctors’ practices,

and generally disrupted civilian life. The operation of sewage treatment facilities was also

reduced and increased quantities of untreated sewage were dumped into the sea, causing public

health risks and pollution, which in turn affected fishing.

1224. Several companies closed or cut back their operations, laying off employees, who

consequently lost their livelihoods. Information provided to the Mission covering June 2007 to

July 2008 showed that 98 per cent of industries were temporarily shut down and five

establishments were relocated to the West Bank and Jordan. Around 16,000 workers were laid

off. The ban on all exports caused losses for the agricultural sector estimated at US$ 30 million

up until July 2008 and 40,000 jobs lost. Similarly, the construction sector endured severe losses

resulting from the halt in development projects and other construction projects owing to the

absence of construction materials. Some 42,000 workers were reported to have lost their jobs as

a result

1226. By December 2008 the destructive impact of the blockade on the local economy had

doubled unemployment levels. While in 2007 79 per cent of households lived below the official

poverty line (US$ 4 per capita/day) and some 70 per cent below the deep poverty line (US$ 3 per

capita/day), these figures were expected to increase by the end of 2008 – even before the Israeli

military operations.

1230. The agricultural sector, including crop farming, fisheries, livestock farming and poultry

farming, suffered direct losses worth some US$ 170 million. Indirect losses have still to be

definitively calculated. One business organization estimates that 60 per cent of all agricultural

land had been destroyed, 40 per cent directly during the military operations.607 Moreover, 17 per

cent of all orchards, 8.3 per cent of livestock, 2.6 per cent of poultry, 18.1 per cent of hatcheries,

25.6 per cent of beehives, 9.2 per cent of open fields and 13 per cent of groundwater wells were

destroyed

DESTROYING FOOD

235. The closing of the Karni grain conveyor belt, the only mechanism for importing wheat,

during part of December, resulted in the depletion of wheat stocks, forcing the six mills in the

Gaza Strip to close down or reduce operations. The el-Bader flour mill appeared to be the only

one that kept working as its owners had kept a good stock of grain, but it was later bombed and

destroyed (see chap. XIII). However, about one third of the previous number of truckloads of

wheat continued entering through the Kerem Shalom crossing. The blockade was tightened

following the confrontations of November 2008, further restricting United Nations food

assistance. On 18 December, UNRWA was compelled to halt its food distribution programme to

thousands of families because its stocks were depleted. It also had to downsize its cash-for-work

programmes as it ran out of banknotes.

1236. By December 2008 food insecurity was on the rise. Food security is the capacity of each

individual to have access to sufficient and adequate food at all times. The Mission received

information indicating that rising food insecurity was the result falling income levels, eroded

livelihoods and higher food prices. Some food items were also unavailable in the local markets.

Consequently, the average Gazan household was spending two thirds of its income on food.613

People had to reduce the quantity and the quality of food they ate, shifting a diet based on

low-cost and high-energy cereals, sugar and oil.

1237. Changes in diet patterns are likely to prejudice the long-term health and nutrition of the

population. According to the WHO office in Gaza, there are indications of chronic micronutrient

deficiencies among the population, in particular among children. Among the most worrying

indicators is the high prevalence of stunting among 6- to 16-year-old children (7.2 per cent),

while the prevalence of thinness among that group was 3.4 per cent for 2008 (the WHO standard

is 5 per cent). Levels of anaemia are alarming: 66 per cent on average among 9- to 12-month-old

babies (the rate being higher for girls (69 per cent)). On average, 35 per cent of pregnant women

suffer from anaemia.614

1238. During the military operations the availability and quality of fresh food dropped: local

production was suspended during the fighting and local produce was spoilt. Mr. Muhammad

Husein al-Atar, Mayor of al-Atatra, told the Mission how agricultural land in his neighbourhood

was razed. The area is close to the Israeli border and 95 per cent of the work is farming-related.

Israeli military incursions had been happening since 2000 accompanied by destruction and

bulldozing. As a result, 50,000 acres of land had not a single tree left standing and between

10 and 15 farmers had been killed every year during the last nine years.

1240… It was reported that the military operations caused food insecurity to

increase and affect up to 75 per cent of the population

DESTROYED HOUSING

1242. Figures about the overall damage to residential housing vary according to the source and

time of the measurement as well as the methodology. The human rights NGO Al Mezan reports

that a total 11,135 homes were partially or fully destroyed.619 According to the human rights

NGO Al-Dameer-Gaza, 2,011 civilian and cultural premises were destroyed, of which 1,404

were houses that were completely demolished and 453 were partially destroyed or damaged.620 A

UNDP survey immediately after the end of military operations reported 3,354 houses completely

destroyed and 11,112 partially damaged.621 The destruction was more serious in the north, where

65 per cent of houses were completely destroyed. As a result of the destruction, more than

600 tons of rubble had to be removed, with the consequent costs and potential impact on the

environment and public health.

DESTROYED MEANS OF REBUILDING HOMES

1245. The impact of the destruction of housing is aggravated by the substantial destruction of

the Gaza construction industry during the military operations. In chapter XIII, the Mission

described the destruction of the Atta Abu Jubbah cement-packaging plant, which formed a

significant part of the construction materials industry in Gaza. The Mission also noted reports

regarding the destruction of 19 producing plants (representing 85 per cent of the production

capacity of the Gaza factories of ready-mix concrete). External supplies of concrete and other

building materials into Gaza are entirely controlled by Israel, which has banned imports of

cement into Gaza. The thousands of families who have lost their shelter as a result of the military

operations are therefore prevented by the blockade imposed by Israel from rebuilding their

homes.

WATER

1247. By December 2008, it was reported that some 80 per cent of Gaza’s water wells were only

partially functioning while the others were not functioning at all. This situation had already

affected the population’s access to water: over half of the residents of Gaza City had access to

running water few hours a week, with those living in houses and buildings using water pumps

spending many hours trying to get water by other means. Of the water supplied in Gaza 80 per

cent did not meet WHO standards for drinking water owing to, among other factors, the shortage

of chlorine to purify the water. Important health risks were consequently likely to arise. Other

health hazards were expected to arise from the practice of discharging untreated or partially

treated wastewater into the sea.

1249. By the end of January only 70 per cent of Gaza’s water wells were working, either

whether fully or partially, i.e. 10 per cent less than before the hostilities. At the height of the

military operations some 500,000 Palestinians did not have access to running water at all,

whereas the rest received water for few hours a week.

1251. The Mission was unable to further investigate these concerns, but is aware of an

environmental impact study being undertaken by the United Nations Environmental Programme

(UNEP) in the Gaza Strip. Preliminary results from UNEP indicate that the environment in the

Gaza Strip has been seriously impacted by the Israeli military operations of December-January.

In particular, the groundwater in Gaza show high nitrate levels exceeding WHO ceilings, putting

infants at risk of nitrate poisoning.  [This was shown in Haaretz report recently]

BOMBING AMBULANCES ETC

1255. Medical facilities and personnel were targeted during the fighting. Seventeen health

personnel were killed and 26 injured. In total, 29 ambulances were damaged or destroyed by

bombs or crushed by armoured vehicles, while 48 per cent of Gaza’s 122 health facilities were

either directly or indirectly hit by shelling. Medical relief and rescue were in many cases also

intentionally hindered.

SCHOOLS

1271. The military operations destroyed or damaged at least 280 schools and kindergartens

1273. The Mission saw the destruction caused to the American School. It also saw the

destruction caused at the Islamic University and in other university buildings that were destroyed

or damaged. These were civilian, educational buildings and the Mission did not find any

information about their use as a military facility or their contribution to a military effort that

might have made them a legitimate target in the eyes of the Israeli armed forces.

1282. Some 30 per cent of children screened at UNRWA schools had mental health problems,

while some 10 per cent of children had lost relatives or friends or lost their homes and

possessions.

1295. The Mission learned that seven UNRWA staff members (none of them on duty), five job

creation programme contractors (one on duty) and three contractors were killed; 21 other

contractors were injured. In all, 57 UNRWA buildings were damaged by shelling or airstrikes,

including 36 schools (six serving as emergency shelters), seven health centres, three sanitation

offices, two warehouses and five other buildings.

1296. Thirty-five UNRWA vehicles, including three armoured vehicles, were damaged.

THE BLOCKADE

1305. The Mission considers that the closure of or the restrictions imposed on border crossings

by Israel in the immediate period before the military operations subjected the local population to

extreme hardship and deprivations that are inconsistent with their protected status. The

restrictions on the entry of foodstuffs, medical supplies, agricultural and industrial input,

including industrial fuel, together with the restrictions on the use of land near the border and on

fishing in the sea have resulted in widespread poverty, increased dependence on food and other

assistance, increased unemployment and economic paralysis. The Mission can conclude only that

Israel has and continues to violate its obligations as an occupying Power under the Fourth

Geneva Convention.

1309. The Mission has considered the question of military security. As serious as the situation

that arises when rockets and mortars are fired on or near border crossings may be, the Mission

considers that it does not justify a policy of collective punishment of the civilian population of

the Gaza Strip. The Mission is aware of the Government of Israel’s declaration of the Gaza Strip

as a “hostile territory”. Again, for the Mission, such a declaration does not relieve Israel of its

obligations towards the civilian population of the Gaza Strip under international humanitarian

law.

1320. With regard to article 54 (2) of Additional Protocol I, the Mission recalls its analysis

included in chapter XIII on the destruction of buildings, food production and industry. From the

facts ascertained and the circumstances described in the present chapter and in chapters XIII and

XVI, the Mission concludes that in the destruction or damaging of greenhouses, agricultural

land, water wells for irrigation and irrigation networks there was the specific purpose of denying

their use for the sustenance of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, this

appears to be done as part of a policy of collective punishment of the civilian population as

elaborated below.

1323. …The widespread

destruction of residential housing, water wells and pipe networks cannot be seen as an inevitable

or necessary incidence of military hostilities. Israel had a duty to distinguish between civilian

and military objects and not to direct any attacks at civilians or civilian objects. …The patterns of

destruction described in the present chapter and in others reveal that many houses were fired at

or demolished after their occupants had been ordered to leave them. There was then no clear

necessity for Israeli soldiers to occupy such properties or to destroy them. They were in effective

control of the area. In other cases, houses were demolished with bulldozers during the last few

days of the military operations when, again, Israeli forces were in total control of the areas in

which the houses were located. Military necessity and the need to prevent rockets being fired

from the houses into Israel do not seem to the Mission plausible reasons for this widespread

destruction. These considerations apply equally to the destruction of agricultural land and

greenhouses, which are so important for local food security.

1324. From the facts available to it and by virtue of the foregoing considerations, the Mission

believes that the destruction of private residential houses, water wells, water tanks, agricultural

land and greenhouses violates Israel’s duties to respect the right of the people in the Gaza Strip

to an adequate standard of living (including food, housing and water).

COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT

1329. The Mission notes that the scope of collective penalties goes beyond physical or criminal

sanctions to encompass also “sanctions and harassment of any sort, administrative, by police

action or otherwise”.676 The cumulative effect of the blockade policies, with the consequent

hardship and deprivation among the whole population, and of the military operations coupled

with statements by Israel made to the effect that the whole of the Gaza Strip was a “hostile

territory” strongly suggest that there was an intent to subject the Gaza population to conditions

such that they would be induced into withdrawing their support from Hamas. This was

apparently confirmed by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel commenting on the

decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the fuel cuts: “The Palestinians need to understand that

business is not usual, I mean there is no equation in which Israeli children will be under attacks

by Kassam rockets on a daily basis and life in the Gaza Strip can be as usual”.677

1330. The above statements should also be seen in the light of what the Mission has identified as

the objectives and strategies of Israel before and during the operations (see chap. XVI). Israel,

rather than fighting the Palestinian armed groups operating in Gaza in a targeted way, has chosen

to punish the whole Gaza Strip and the population in it with economic, political and military

sanctions. This has been seen and felt by many people with whom the Mission spoke as a form

of collective punishment inflicted on the Palestinians because of their political choices.

1331. The facts ascertained by the Mission, the conditions resulting from the deliberate actions

of the Israeli armed forces and the declared policies of the Israeli Government – as they were

presented by its authorized representatives – with regard to the Gaza Strip before, during and

after the military operation, cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment

on the people of the Gaza Strip. The Mission, therefore, finds a violation of the provisions of

article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

1334. The Mission has described above a series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza

Strip from their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water. Palestinians are further

denied freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country. Later the

report will address the extent to which Palestinian rights to access a court of law and an effective

remedy are limited or denied by Israeli laws (see chap. XXVII)

1335. From the facts available to it, the Mission is of the view that some of the actions of the

Government of Israel might justify a competent court finding that crimes against humanity have

been committed.

GILAD SHALIT

1336. The Mission notes the continued detention of Gilad Shalit, a member of the Israeli armed

forces, captured in 2006 by Palestinian armed groups during a cross-border operation. In reaction

to the capture, the Israeli Government ordered a number of incursions to attack important

infrastructure in the Gaza Strip as well as Palestinian Authority offices. This was followed by

the arrest of eight Palestinian Government ministers and 26 members of the Palestinian

Legislative Council by the Israeli security forces (see chap. II).

1337. Israeli Government officials have repeatedly stated that the easing of the blockade on the

Gaza Strip (see chaps. V and XVII) is linked to the release of Gilad Shalit. In February 2009, it

appeared that the Israeli Government had dropped its demand for Palestinian militants to release

Gilad Shalit before it would end the blockade.681 However, the then Deputy Prime Minister

stated shortly after that “Israel is facing a serious humanitarian crisis, and it is called Gilad

Shalit, and… until he is returned home, not only will we not allow more cargo to reach the

residents of Gaza, we will even diminish it.” Israel’s then Prime Minister also stated that “we

will not reopen the border crossings [into Gaza] and assist Hamas so long as Gilad Shalit is in

their brutal prison.”682 According to the CBS News Channel, this position was reiterated by the

current Israeli Prime Minister in July 2009.683

Legal findings and conclusions

1343. The Mission is of the opinion that, as a soldier who belongs to the Israeli armed forces and

who was captured during an enemy incursion into Israel, Gilad Shalit meets the requirements for

prisoner-of-war status under the Third Geneva Convention. As such, he should be protected,

treated humanely and be allowed external communication as appropriate according to that

Convention. ICRC should be allowed to visit him without delay. Information about his condition

should also be provided promptly to his family.

1344. The Mission is concerned by the declarations referred to above, made by various Israeli

officials, who have indicated the intention of maintaining the blockade of the Gaza Strip until the

release of Gilad Shalit. The Mission is of the opinion that this would constitute collective

punishment of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

1345-72 – Hamas INTERNAL VIOLATIONS

ISRAELI REPRESSION IN THE WEST BANK BEFORE THE ATTACK

1388. There was a significant increase in the use of force by Israeli security forces during

demonstrations in the West Bank after the start of the Israeli operations in Gaza. The degree of

force used against protests during the previous year had already been high, including during

protests against the Wall in places such as Jayyous, al-Ma’sara, Bi’lin and Ni’lin.721 The villages

where demonstrations are regularly held have lost or stand to lose much of their land to Israeli

settlements and the Wall. A vibrant grass-roots, non-violent resistance movement has evolved

that has attracted support from Israeli and international activists. New tactics and weapons used

by the Israeli security forces aimed at suppressing the popular movement722 have resulted in

deaths and injuries. For example, in July 2008, Israeli border police killed two children, Ahmad

Musa, aged 10,723 and Yusef Amera, aged 17, both of whom were shot in the head.724

ISRAELI FORCES IN THE WEST BANK DURING GAZA

1391. According to the witnesses, the main demonstration had ended when the army and border

police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The next sequence of events took

place on the edge of the village, at a considerable distance from the site of the construction of the

Wall. The two young men killed were part of a small group of demonstrators, some of whom had

thrown stones at the soldiers. In video footage, four or five soldiers appeared to be casually

walking around and not seemingly threatened. No tear gas was used at that stage. Dozens of

rounds of live ammunition were fired in the direction of the group of young men, hitting three of

them within minutes of each other. Mohamed Khawaja was shot in the forehead; Arafat

Khawaja, who had turned to run away, was shot in the back, and Mohammed Srour was shot in

the leg. Subsequently an ambulance was prevented from reaching the victims, who had to be

carried some distance and were eventually put onto a pick-up truck, at which the army fired tear

gas. Arafat Khawaja was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital and Mohamed Khawaja

passed away a few days later.

1392. Two Palestinians were killed during other protests against the military operations in Gaza.

On 4 January, Mufid Walwel was shot dead during a demonstration near Qalqilya, where the

Wall is to be built. In Hebron, on 16 January, Mus’ab Da’na died after being shot in the head.

According to an NGO report, the Israeli border police are believed to have been responsible for

both incidents

Goes on to note other shootings of unarmed protesting Palestinians. Discusses indifference of state of IDF abuses, 1407 etc

1430. Regardless of whether the facts indicate that the above mentioned rights could be

permissibly limited under the terms of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

the methods and means of dispersal are questionable. The use of force described to the Mission

against peaceful demonstrations is clearly prohibited in such situations, in particular the lethal

use of tear gas canisters against demonstrators, of live ammunition (including .22 ammunition),

and of snipers. It should be emphasized that the norms relating to the use of force by law

enforcement officers outlined above, continue to apply even when the demonstrations are no

longer peaceful, such as when stones are thrown, such as in the case of the Ni’lin demonstration

of 28 December. The situation described by the witnesses to the killings in Ni’lin suggests that

firearms were used when there was no threat to the life of the Israeli security forces or others

under their protection. According to the witnesses, both the deceased were shot in the upper body

and one of them in the back.

1437. The Mission is alarmed at both the reported increase in settler violence over the past year

and the failure of the Israeli security forces to prevent settler attacks against Palestinian civilians

and their property.

1438. The Mission is also gravely concerned at the increased use of force, including the use of

lethal force, in response to demonstrations, and at the generalized violence of security forces

against Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank. Of particular concern is the

apparent and systematic lack of accountability for acts of violence committed by Israeli security

forces against Palestinian civilians.

1439. While the filming of incidents has led to the exposure of particular grave incidents of

violence, the Mission is also concerned about violence that may have occurred out of sight gone

unreported.

1440. In the opinion of the Mission, a line has been crossed, what is fallaciously considered

acceptable “wartime behaviour” has become the norm. Public support for a more hard-line

attitude towards Palestinians generally,761 lack of public censure and lack of accountability762 all

combine to increase the already critical level of violence against the protected population.

POLITICAL PRISONERS

1441. According to estimates, as at 1 June 2009, there were approximately 8,100 Palestinian

“political prisoners” in detention in Israel, including 60 women and around 390 children.763 Most

of these detainees are charged or convicted by the Israeli military court system that operates for

Palestinians in the West Bank. The most common convictions are for stone-throwing. Being a

“member of an illegal organization” is another common charge.764 All but one of the Israeli

prisons holding Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory are located inside Israel.765

1442. As at June 2009, of all the Palestinians held by Israel for reasons related to the occupation,

512 were held without charge or trial, of whom 12 were held under the Israeli Unlawful

Combatants Law and 500 as “administrative detainees”.

1444. It is estimated that during the past 43 years of occupation, approximately 700,000

Palestinian men, women and children have been detained under Israeli military orders.

1445. Due process rights for Palestinians in the Israeli military court system are severely limited.

Military Order No. 378, which is the main source regulating detention and trial, allows for a

Palestinian detainee from the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including children as young as 12,

to be held for up to eight days before being brought before a military judge (Israeli detainees

must be brought before a judge within 48 hours). Moreover, Palestinian detainees can be held for

up to 90 days without access to a lawyer (compared to 48 hours for Israeli detainees).770

Palestinian detainees can be held for up to 188 days before being charged (an Israeli detainee

must be charged within 30 days).771

1446. Accusations of torture and other ill-treatment during arrest, interrogation and detention are

common, while the court system is criticized for the use of coerced evidence.772 It is also alleged

that complaints about the ill-treatment of detainees rarely lead to investigations or to prosecution,

let alone conviction.773 The Israeli military court system treats Palestinian children as adults from

the age of 16.774 Israeli citizens, however, are considered adults only from the age of 18.

1447. Palestinian prisoners are reportedly held in substandard detention facilities (for example,

Ktziot prison houses prisoners in tents) with very limited access to health care and education

1459 – Israel arrested more kids

BEFORE LIEBERMAN: REVOKING RIGHTS BASED ON LOYALTY TO STATE

(b) Associated measures

1480. In May 2006, the Israeli Minister of Interior at the time, Roni Bar-On, decided to revoke

the permanent residency status (i.e. the right to reside in Jerusalem under Israeli law) of four

Council members (including the then Minister of Jerusalem Affairs). The letter received stated

Pursuant to [the Law of Entry into Israel], you are deemed to be a resident in the State of Israel.

You are obliged to pay allegiance to the State of Israel. Nonetheless, your actions prove

otherwise and indicate that your allegiance is paid to the Palestinian Authority.”829 The members

petitioned the Israeli High Court, while ACRI and Adalah submitted an amicus curiae brief,

arguing that the Jerusalemites’ reduction to permanent resident status of the city after it was

annexed by Israel could not be removed. The human rights organizations argued that the

residency status of the members was cancelled because the Government of Israel did not

welcome the election result.830 The petition was filed at the Israeli High Court of Justice

contesting the status removal or de facto exile, in 2006, but it is still pending.831 Potentially, a

ruling that Jerusalem residency can be revoked on the basis of a lack of loyalty to Israel could

have extremely far-reaching consequences for the Palestinian residents of occupied East

Jerusalem. Until now Israeli law has allowed the revocation of Jerusalem residency rights only of

Palestinians who are unable to prove that their “centre of life” is in Jerusalem

PUNISHING HAMAS PRISONERS

1485. On 18 March 2009, the Israeli Justice Minister, Daniel Friedmann, established a

committee to “work to reduce privileges afforded Hamas and Islamic Jihad security

prisoners”.839 He reportedly announced in the media that the downgrade was intended “to match

[these prisoners’] conditions of incarceration to those of Gilad Shalit”.840 The Mission

interviewed two former Hamas detainees who confirmed that from the end of March they had

stopped receiving newspapers and books and had their “recreation” time reduced to 3 hours per

day.841 According to HaMoked, the decision to create the committee “establishes the use of a

large group of prisoners as ‘bargaining chips’ until the resolution of a matter to which they have

no connection and which they cannot influence.

DISCRIMINATION

1502. The systematic discrimination, both in law and in practice, against Palestinians in

legislation (including the existence of an entirely separate legal and court system which offers

systematically worse conditions than that applicable to Israelis) and practice during arrest,

detention, trial and sentencing compared with Israeli citizens848 is contrary to ICCPR, article 2,

and potentially in violation of the prohibition on persecution as a crime against humanity.849

FOOTNOTE 848: 848 There is also discrimination between Jewish Israeli citizens and Palestinian Israeli citizens, in law and practice.

CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE LEGAL SYSTEM

1503. The Mission is concerned about the detention of children and adults on political grounds,

in poor conditions and outside the occupied territory in violation of international humanitarian

law. The Mission notes the very high number of Palestinians who have been detained since the

beginning of the occupation (amounting to 40 per cent of the adult male population of the

Occupied Palestinian Territory) according to a practice that appears to aim at exercising control,

humiliating, instilling fear, deterring political activity and serving political interests.

1504. The Mission is equally concerned by the reports of coercion and torture during

interrogations, trials based on coerced confessions or secret evidence, and the reportedly

systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment in prisons.

1505. The Mission is particularly alarmed at the arrest and detention of hundreds of young

children, and the rise in child detention during and following the Israeli military operations in

Gaza. The ill-treatment of children and adults described to the Mission is disturbing in its

seemingly deliberate cruelty.

1506. The legal instruments allowing for the indefinite detention of “unlawful combatants”, as

well as enshrining the deficient due process regimes, the differential treatment of Palestinian and

Israeli prisoners (including the differential definition of a “child”), and the exemptions de facto

allowing for harsher interrogation techniques raise concerns about the legal system being a part

of this practice, rendering it deliberate and systematic.

1507. The Mission notes with concern the arrest and lengthy detention of democratically elected

Palestinian parliamentarians, which appears to be a deliberate act to interrupt the democratic

functioning and self-governance of Palestinians.

1508+ – MOVEMENT RESTRICTIONS IN WEST BANK – checkpoints, roadblocks, Israeli only roads, permits, wall etc

1524+ – separating Gaza and West Bank

1542-9 – denounces checkpoints, settlements, apartheid wall etc

1548. From the facts available to it, the Mission believes that in the movement and access policy

there has been a violation of the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of race or

national origin The Mission is concerned about the steps taken recently to formalize the

separation of Gaza from the West Bank, and, as such, of two parts of the Occupied Palestinian

Territory. The Mission is also concerned that the increasingly entrenched array of movement and

access restrictions, both physical and non-physical, amount to a deliberate policy of closely

controlling a population in order to make use of areas of its land. From the facts available, the

Mission believes that these restrictions constitute violations of fundamental rights.

1549. Insofar that movement and access restrictions, the settlements and their infrastructure,

demographic policies with regards to Jerusalem and Area C, and the separation of Gaza from the

West Bank prevent a viable, contiguous and sovereign Palestinian State from being created, they

are in violation of the jus cogens right to self-determination.

1550+ – Fatah REPRESSION

1551. There have also been allegations of the use of excessive force and the suppression by

Palestinian security services of demonstrations, particularly those in support of the population of

Gaza during the Israeli military operations.905 On these occasions the Palestinian Authority’s

security services allegedly arrested many individuals906 and prevented the media from covering

the events, at times breaking cameras or erasing footage.907 The Mission also received

allegations of harassment by Palestinian security services of journalists who expressed critical

views of the Palestinian Authority.908

1552. The Mission noted the reluctance of some of the residents of the West Bank it approached

to speak openly about these issues. A number of individuals expressed concern that there might

be repercussions if they did so.909

1555 – 400-800 Hamas Political prisoners

1559 – torture

1564-70- Press curtailed

FATAH REPRESSING PROTESTS

1571. The Mission received information from various sources that demonstrations in support of

Gaza were both prevented from taking place and, in some cases, violently repressed.945

1572. Security officers reportedly used excessive force during demonstrations on 2 January in

Hebron and Ramallah. At both events, protestors suffered injuries after being beaten by security

officers. Journalists at the Hebron protest were prevented from reporting on the event.946

1573. Al-Haq informed the Mission that a student demonstration at Birzeit on 5 January 2009,

which had the stated aim of “showing the occupation forces that Palestinian students reject all

aggression against Gaza”, saw a heavy deployment of Palestinian Preventive Security, General

Intelligence and Military Intelligence services personnel. Many students were reportedly

beaten;947 50 were injured, 9 of whom were hospitalized. Many were also detained, although

most were released later the same day. Ms. Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian

Legislative Council, informed the Mission that she had received a call from one of the students

asking her to come to the hospital and witness the injuries.948

1574. According to Al-Haq, on 26 January, after the end of the Israeli military operations in

Gaza, a peaceful sit-in was held near the security forces’ headquarters in Hebron against

detentions on political grounds. Reportedly, “security forces beat demonstrators, including

children, with sticks. Although several demonstrators were injured, security forces impeded

access of medical personnel.”949 The affidavit of one eyewitness states that “Palestinian security

officers demanded that we disperse and take our banners down. As demonstrators refused to

disband, a group of female security officers started beating them with sticks. The security

officers addressed the demonstrators, saying: ‘You are Shiite. In Gaza, you shot the legs of Fatah

activists. You stole food supplies in Gaza.’ Security officers also impeded access to a Palestinian

ambulance and prevented medics from evacuating eight injured protestors.”

1585. The Mission is concerned that, by failing to take action to put an end to the practices

described above, the Palestinian executive and judicial authorities are contributing to the further

deterioration of the fundamental rights and freedoms of Palestinians, the rule of law and the

independence of the judiciary.

1590+ Rockets

1604. According to the Israeli authorities, armed groups in Gaza fired approximately 570

rockets and 205 mortars into Israel during the 22 days of the military operations in Gaza.

1605. … A total of 90 rockets struck Sderot during the 22 days of military

operations in Gaza

1606. During the period of the operations, three civilian fatalities and one military fatality were

recorded in Israel resulting from the rocket and mortar strikes launched from Gaza. According to

Magen David Adom, 918 people were injured (17 critically injured, 62 medium injuries and 829

lightly injured) in this time period.968 There were also 1,595 people inside Israel treated for

stress-related injuries.969

AFTER THE MASSACRE

19 January 2009-31 July 2009

1607. According to the Israeli authorities, more than 100 rockets and 65 mortars were fired into

Israel after 19 January 2009.970 No fatalities resulted from these rocket and mortar strikes. The

Mission was unable to obtain any official statistics of civilians physically injured by rockets and

mortars during this time. On 1 February 2009, one Israeli civilian was lightly wounded when

mortar shells, fired from Gaza, exploded in the Sha’ar Hanegev region.

1608. The majority of the rockets and mortars were fired prior to 15 March 2009. On 12 March

2009, the Ministry of the Interior of the Gaza authorities stated that rockets were being “fired at

the wrong time” and that the Gaza authorities were investigating those responsible.971 On

20 April 2009, a member of Hamas called on other armed groups to stop firing rockets “in the

interests of the Palestinian people”.972 On 19 July 2009, Xinhua News reported that Hamas had

arrested two members of Islamic Jihad firing mortars at Israeli forces.973

1609. In July 2009, Hamas declared that it was entering a period of “cultural resistance”, stating

that it was suspending its use of rockets and shifting its focus to winning support at home and

abroad through cultural initiatives and public relations

HAMAS FANATICS

1630. On 5 January 2009, Hamas member Mahmoud Zahar was quoted as saying that “the

Israeli enemy … shelled everyone in Gaza. They shelled children and hospitals and mosques, and

in doing so, they gave us legitimacy to strike them in the same way”.

HAMAS STOPS SUICIDE BOMBINGS

1634. In a meeting with the Mission on 1 June 2008, the Gaza authorities stated that they had

taken the initiative to spare civilian lives when they renounced suicide attacks in April 2006.1001

ISRAELI ARABS NOT PROTECTED

1646. The Mission is concerned about the lack of provision of public shelters and fortifications

in the unrecognized villages in the Negev and in some of the recognized towns and villages

populated by Palestinian citizens of Israel, living within the range of rocket and mortar fire (see

paragraph X below).

KILLED BY ROCKETS

1648. Between 18 June 2008 and 31 July 2009, there were four fatalities in Israel as a

consequence of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, of which there were three civilian and one

military casualties.

1649. On 27 December 2008, Beber Vaknin, 58 years of age, of Netivot was killed when a

rocket fired from Gaza hit an apartment building in Netivot.

1650. On 29 December 2008, Hani al-Mahdi, 27 years of age, of Aroar, a Bedouin settlement in

the Negev, was killed when a Grad-type missile fired from Gaza exploded at a construction site

in Ashkelon. On the same day, in a separate incident, Irit Sheetrit, 39 years of age, was killed and

several wounded when a Grad rocket exploded in the centre of Ashdod. The al-Qassam Brigades

claimed responsibility for the attack.

1651. On 29 December 2008, a member of the military, Warrant Officer Lutfi Nasraladin, 38

years of age, of the Druze town of Daliat el-Carmel, was killed by a mortar attack on a military

base near Nahal Oz

DAMAGE BY ROCKETS

1659. Where rockets have landed in towns and villages in southern Israel, they have caused

localized property damage. This has included private houses1024 and cars.1025 During the

operations in Gaza, a total of nine schools and kindergartens in Sderot, Beersheba, Ashdod,

Ashkelon and Kiryat Ha Hinoch were hit and damaged by rockets.1026 Two kindergartens were

struck and damaged by rocket fire in Ashdod.1027 On 8 January 2009, a Grad rocket hit a school

in Ashkelon.1028

1660. On 26 February 2009, a rocket launched from Gaza damaged two houses in Sderot.1029 On

5 March 2009, a rocket hit a synagogue in Netivot, causing light damage.1030

1661. The Mission was not able to obtain an estimate of the financial cost of the damage to

property caused by rocket and mortar fire. In its paper of July 2009, the Government of Israel

stated, “for direct damage caused to buildings or property as a result of rocket or mortar attacks

2,400 claims, amounting to a total of 31 million NIS ($7.95 million) were submitted in 2008, in

addition to 2,300 additional claims between January and July 2009, of which a total of

approximately 25 million NIS ($6.4 million) was granted thus far”

PALESTINIAN ISRAELIS UNPROTECTED BY ISRAEL

The unrecognized Palestinian Arab Bedouin villages of the Negev

1675. The unrecognized villages in the Negev are Palestinian Arab Bedouin villages that are not

recognized by Israel1036 and have been subjected to demolitions by the Israeli authorities. They

are not marked on any commercial maps and are ineligible for municipal services such as

connection to the electricity grid, water mains or for garbage collection. According to the

Director of the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages, Atwa Abu Fraih, in an

interview on 30 July 2009, approximately 90,000 people live in these villages, including 17,000

schoolchildren.

1676. According to Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, these villages are in range of rocket

fire but have no early warning system, nor have any shelters been built to protect the residents

who live there

FOOTNOTE 1036: 1036 Between 1948 and 1966, Israel imposed a military administration on Palestinian Israelis in the region and

designated 85 per cent of the Negev as “State land.” All Bedouin habitation was retroactively termed illegal and

consequently remains, with few exceptions, unrecognized under Israeli planning criteria and therefore subject to

demolition and appropriation into regional plans under Jewish Agency criteria; (i.e., exclusively for “Jewish

nationals”)

1676…

the Director of the Regional Council of

Unrecognized Villages, Atwa Abu Fraih, who told the Mission …that none of the unrecognized villages

had any shelters from rocket or mortar fire. He also pointed out that none of the unrecognized

villages was equipped with the early warning alarm system though seven recognized villages

did. Unrecognized villages close to either recognized villages with an early warning system or

Jewish Israeli towns could hear the alarms. He stated, however, that the early warning system

was of little use if there were no shelters. The Director of the Regional Council stated that, if a

rocket landed in the unrecognized villages, the consequences would be “disastrous”.

1677. While no fatalities or injuries have been recorded in these communities, Physicians for

Human Rights – Israel has confirmed that a number of the residents of these villages have been

referred for psychological treatment in the aftermath of rocket and mortar strikes.

PALESTINIANS IN RECOGNISED VILLAGES

1678. Where the towns and villages predominantly populated by Palestinian citizens of Israel

are recognized (and consequently eligible for municipal services such as electricity), they still

lack the public shelters commonly found in towns and villages populated predominantly by

Israel’s Jewish citizens.

1679. Rahat is located 24 kilometres from Gaza and has a population of 45,000 residents. It has

no public shelters and few houses have secure rooms.

1681. The Mission is concerned about the disparity in treatment of Jewish and Palestinian

citizens by the Government of Israel in the installation of early warning systems and provision of

public shelters and fortified schools between its Jewish and Palestinian citizens. This is

particularly noticeable in the case of the unrecognized villages, some of which are within the

now increased zone of rocket fire, and which have no means of protection from rocket and

mortar attacks.

HAMAS CHAUVINISM

1690. The above view is supported by public statements of the armed groups, such as that made

by Hamas on 5 November 2008. Following an Israeli raid in Gaza1046 which resulted in the death

of five Hamas militants1047, a Hamas spokesman stated “The Israelis began this tension and they

must pay an expensive price… They cannot leave us drowning in blood while they sleep soundly

in their beds”.

1691. From the facts available, the Mission finds that the rocket and mortars attacks, launched

by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, have caused terror in the affected communities of southern

Israel and in Israel as a whole. Furthermore, it is the Mission’s view that the mortars and rockets

are uncontrolled and uncontrollable, respectively. This indicates the commission of an

indiscriminate attack on the civilian population of southern Israel, a war crime, and may amount

to crimes against humanity. These attacks have caused loss of life and physical and mental injury

to civilians and damage to private houses, religious buildings and property and have eroded the

economic and cultural life of the affected communities.

BIG PROTESTS IN ISRAEL AGAINST THE MASSACRE

1697. While the majority of Jewish citizens in Israel supported military action in Gaza,1049

demonstrations and vigils were held across Israel – daily in some areas – against the military

operations. As might be expected, smaller protests took place on weekdays, while larger ones

were held on on the weekends. Protests took place in numerous towns and villages across Israel,

the most important being: the demonstration of 150,000 people in Sakhnin,1050 the largest

demonstration of Palestinian Israelis since 1948; a 100,000-strong protest in Baqa al Gharbiyah

in the “Triangle”;1051a demonstration of 15,000 people in Naqab; a protest by more than 10,000

people in Tel Aviv and protests of a similar size in Haifa. Protests were also witnessed in

southern localities, including Beersheba and Ararah.1052 Daily protests took place not only in

towns and villages populated mainly by Palestinian citizens of Israel, but also in Haifa1053 and

Tel Aviv.

1698. According to information received by the Mission, the protests against the Israeli military

operations in Gaza were, in the main, attended by Palestinian Israelis; even though protests

usually also included Jewish Israelis. In Tel Aviv, Jewish Israelis reportedly made up 30 to 40

per cent of the larger weekend demonstrations

1700. In Tel Aviv and Haifa, the police tended to be visible to protesters.1056 With a few

exceptions (see below) police interference was limited. In Haifa, smaller demonstrations were

attended by almost as many police officers as protesters, and the number of cameras being used

by the police to record the protest had an intimidating effect.1057 Police blocked off streets

around the demonstrations in both cities, with the consequence that protests took place in near

deserted areas; one protester remarked that “it was as though we were demonstrating to

ourselves”.1058 While the media had free access, the Mission’s attention was drawn to the fact

that there was little coverage of the protests by the international or Israeli media.

1703. According to statistics that Adalah obtained from the police, 715 protesters were arrested

inside Israel

TREATMENT OF PROTESTORS: NOT TOO BAD

1706. The Mission received several submissions about the beating of protesters by the police.

These incidents appeared to have been a disproportionate response by the police either when

they believed that the protesters were not complying, or not complying fast enough, with their

orders and, in some instances, where protesters were themselves breaking the law (for example,

by throwing stones at the police).

Ben Gurion street, Haifa, 1 January 2009

1707. On 1 January 2009, a silent candle-light vigil was held on Ben Gurion street in Haifa. A

number of prominent Palestinian Israeli actors were present at the vigil, including Hanan Helu

and Saleh Bakri. In a telephone interview on 29 July 2009, Mr. Bakri stated that, the police and

members of the Israeli special forces requested that the group move, which it did before sitting

further down the street. Protesters were then confronted by the police and beaten about their

lower bodies; some of them were arrested.1067 According to Adalah, the police refused to provide

medical assistance to the injured protesters who were detained.1068 Those who were arrested and

taken to the police station reported that the police verbally abused them and made sexual

comments about female members of their families. At the police station, Mr. Bakri, well known

in Israeli and Palestinian public life, was made to stand without moving for 30 minutes facing the

Israeli flag while police officers took photographs and filmed him.1069

1708 – protestors at Egyptian embassy beaten by police. Jewish protester released when cop realised she was Jewish

1713 – people lying on the road given “super-charges”.  1714 – Supreme Court abandons normal rules for war.

1715. It is clear from statistics obtained by Adalah from the Israeli police that, of all the

protesters arrested; it was the Palestinian Israelis who were disproportionately held in detention

pending trial.

GAZA STILL NOT ALLOWED HR VISITORS

1733. The decision by Israel to deny access to the media and international human rights

monitors to Gaza during -and indeed prior- to the start of its military operations in Gaza on 27

December 2008, created a storm of protest from the international media and human rights

NGOs.1108 Some human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, are

still denied access to Gaza to this day.1109

MEDIA

1735. Israeli military authorities stopped allowing foreign journalists into the Gaza Strip,

without prior notification to media organizations, on 5 November 2008 when hostilities

escalated.1110 . Israeli citizens, including journalists, have been barred from entering the Gaza

strip since the abduction in 2006 of Gilad Shalit, on security grounds. One journalist, Amira

Hass, has been arrested on two occasions, in December 2008 and in May 2009, for being in Gaza

illegally.1111

1736. After the closure, on 5 November 2008, of the Gaza Strip to journalists (among other

groups, including human rights monitors), there was international and domestic protest; the ban

was lifted briefly on 4 December 2008, but reinstated the following day.

EXPLAINING THE MEDIA BAN

1743. There have been various explanations from the Government of Israel. A spokesman from

the Embassy of Israel in London, speaking to Press Gazette, stated “Gaza is a war zone and so it

is very difficult to allow people who are not soldiers in. Their presence might endanger both

themselves and our operations there”.1120

1744. The Director of Press Office of the Government of Israel, Daniel Seaman, stated “Any

journalist who enters Gaza becomes a fig leaf and front for the Hamas terror organization, and I

see no reason why we should help that”.1121 He was later quoted in the Associated Press as

saying for foreign journalists were “unprofessional” and took “questionable reports at face value

without checking”.1122

1745. On 7 January 2009, the Ambassador for Israel to the United Kingdom, Ron Proser,

claimed that infighting at the Foreign Press Association about which journalists should be

admitted was responsible for the press not entering Gaza;1123 this was categorically denied by the

Association.1124 On 22 January 2009, Haaretz reported a split in the Government of Israel over

press access to Gaza, stating the Ministry of Defense and the army had withdrawn their

opposition to media entry into Gaza, but that the Prime Minister’s Office had ordered that the

media ban be maintained.1125

1746. The media ban, coupled with the comments made by the Director of the Government’s

Press Office have raised concerns, aired in the media, that the ban was aimed at controlling the

narrative of the conflict for political reasons

1747-51 – B’Tselem, AMNESTY, HRW  refused access to Gaza

DISMISSES ISRAELI INVESTIGATIONS INTO CRIMES

1832. The Mission concludes that there are serious doubts about the willingness of Israel to

carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt and effective way as

required by international law. The Mission is also of the view that the Israeli system presents

inherently discriminatory features that have proven to make the pursuit of justice for Palestinian

victims very difficult.

1858+ – calls for reparations to Palestinians

1868. These assistance and compensation schemes notwithstanding, the Mission is of the view

that international law requires the State responsible for the internationally wrongful act to

provide reparation and compensation to the victim. To the Mission’s knowledge, Israel has to

date considered compensation to be paid only to the United Nations for the damage inflicted on

United Nations personnel and facilities, without acknowledging responsibility.1197 At the very

least, similar compensation should be offered to Palestinian individuals.

1873. It is the view of the Mission that the current constitutional structure and legislation in

Israel leaves very little room, if any, for Palestinians to seek compensation. The international

community needs to provide an additional or alternative mechanism of compensation by Israel

for damage or loss incurred by Palestinian civilians during the military operations. In this regard,

the Mission notes that the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur and the Commission of

Inquiry on Lebanon expressed similar concerns about the need for compensation for the

victims

CONCLUSION: CAN’T COMPARE OCCUPIER WITH OCCUPIED

1876. In carrying out its mandate, the Mission had regard, as its only guides, for general

international law, international human rights and humanitarian law, and the obligations

they place on States, the obligations they place on non-State actors and, above all, the

rights and entitlements they bestow on individuals. This in no way implies equating the

position of Israel as the occupying Power with that of the occupied Palestinian population

or entities representing it. The differences with regard to the power and capacity to inflict

harm or to protect, including by securing justice when violations occur, are obvious and a

comparison is neither possible nor necessary. What requires equal attention and effort,

however, is the protection of all victims in accordance with international law.

OVERALL PATTERN: SUMMARY

1878. The continuum is evident most immediately with the policy of blockade that

preceded the operations and that in the Mission’s view amounts to collective punishment

intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip. When

the operations began, the Gaza Strip had been under a severe regime of closures and

restrictions on the movement of people, goods and services for almost three years. This

included basic necessities of life, such as food and medical supplies, and products required

for the conduct of daily life, such as fuel, electricity, school items, and repair and

construction material. These measures were imposed by Israel purportedly to isolate and

weaken Hamas after its electoral victory in view of the perceived continuing threat to

Israel’s security that it represented. Their effect was compounded by the withholding of

financial and other assistance by some donors on similar grounds. Adding hardship to the

already difficult situation in the Gaza Strip, the effects of the prolonged blockade did not

spare any aspect of the life of Gazans. Prior to the military operation, the Gaza economy

had been depleted, the health sector beleaguered, the population had been made dependent

on humanitarian assistance for survival and the conduct of daily life. Men, women and

children were psychologically suffering from long-standing poverty, insecurity and

violence, and enforced confinement in a heavily overcrowded territory. The dignity of the

people of Gaza had been severely eroded. This was the situation in the Gaza Strip when the

Israeli armed forces launched their offensive in December 2008. The military operations

and the manner in which they were conducted considerably exacerbated the

aforementioned effects of the blockade. The result, in a very short time, was unprecedented

long-term damage both to the people and to their development and recovery prospects.

1879. An analysis of the modalities and impact of the December-January military

operations also sets them, in the Mission’s view, in a continuum with a number of other

pre-existing Israeli policies with regard to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The

progressive isolation and separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, a policy that

began much earlier and which was consolidated in particular with the imposition of tight

closures, restrictions on movement and eventually the blockade, are among the most

apparent. Several measures adopted by Israel in the West Bank during and following the

military operations in Gaza also further deepen Israel’s control over the West Bank,

including East Jerusalem, and point to a convergence of objectives with the Gaza military

operations. Such measures include increased land expropriation, house demolitions,

demolition orders and permits to build homes in settlements, greater and more formalized

access and movement restrictions on Palestinians, new and stricter procedures for

residents of the Gaza Strip to change their residency to the West Bank. Systematic efforts

to hinder and control Palestinian self-determined democratic processes, not least through

the detention of elected political representatives and members of Government and the

punishment of the Gaza population for its perceived support for Hamas, culminated in the

attacks on government buildings during the Gaza offensive, most prominently the

Palestinian Legislative Council. The cumulative impact of these policies and actions make

prospects for political and economic integration between Gaza and the West Bank more

remote.

THE ATTACK = TERRORISM

1886. In this respect, the Mission recognizes that not all deaths constitute violations of

international humanitarian law. The principle of proportionality acknowledges that, under

certain strict conditions, actions resulting in the loss of civilian life may not be unlawful.

What makes the application and assessment of proportionality difficult in respect of many

of the events investigated by the Mission is that deeds by the Israeli armed forces and

words of military and political leaders prior to and during the operations indicate that, as a

whole, they were premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed not at the

enemy but at the “supporting infrastructure.” In practice, this appears to have meant the

civilian population.

1887. The timing of the first Israeli attack, at 11.30 a.m. on a weekday, when children were

returning from school and the streets of Gaza were crowded with people going about their

daily business, appears to have been calculated to create the greatest disruption and

widespread panic among the civilian population. The treatment of many civilians detained

or even killed while trying to surrender is one manifestation of the way in which the

effective rules of engagement, standard operating procedures and instructions to the troops

on the ground appear to have been framed in order to create an environment in which due

regard for civilian lives and basic human dignity was replaced with disregard for basic

international humanitarian law and human rights norms.

1889. The repeated failure to distinguish between combatants and civilians appears to the

Mission to have been the result of deliberate guidance issued to soldiers, as described by

some of them, and not the result of occasional lapses.

1890. The Mission recognizes that some of those killed were combatants directly engaged

in hostilities against Israel, but many were not. The outcome and the modalities of the

operations indicate, in the Mission’s view, that they were only partially aimed at killing

leaders and members of Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades and other armed groups. They were

also to a large degree aimed at destroying or incapacitating civilian property and the

means of subsistence of the civilian population.

1891. It is clear from evidence gathered by the Mission that the destruction of food supply

installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the

result of a deliberate and systematic policy by the Israeli armed forces. It was not carried

out because those objects presented a military threat or opportunity, but to make the daily

process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population.

1892. Allied to the systematic destruction of the economic capacity of the Gaza Strip, there

appears also to have been an assault on the dignity of the people. This was seen not only in

the use of human shields and unlawful detentions sometimes in unacceptable conditions,

but also in the vandalizing of houses when occupied and the way in which people were

treated when their houses were entered. The graffiti on the walls, the obscenities and often

racist slogans, all constituted an overall image of humiliation and dehumanization of the

Palestinian population.

1893. The operations were carefully planned in all their phases. Legal opinions and advice

were given throughout the planning stages and at certain operational levels during the

campaign. There were almost no mistakes made according to the Government of Israel. It

is in these circumstances that the Mission concludes that what occurred in just over three

weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate

attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish

its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an

ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.

1894. The Mission has noted with concern public statements by Israeli officials, including

senior military officials, to the effect that the use of disproportionate force, attacks on

civilian population and the destruction of civilian property are legitimate means to achieve

Israel’s military and political objectives.

1897. As the Mission focused on investigating and analysing the specific matters within its

mandate, Israel’s continuing occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank emerged as

the fundamental factor underlying violations of international humanitarian and human

rights law against the protected population and undermining prospects for development

and peace. Israel’s failure to acknowledge and exercise its responsibilities as the occupying

Power further exacerbated the effects of occupation on the Palestinian people, and continue

to do so. Furthermore, the harsh and unlawful practices of occupation, far from quelling

resistance, breed it, including its violent manifestations. The Mission is of the view that

ending occupation is a prerequisite for the return of a dignified life for Palestinians, as well

as development and a peaceful solution to the conflict.

1902. The Mission notes, with concern, that Israel has not provided the same level of

protection from rockets and mortars to affected Palestinian citizens as it has to Jewish

citizens. In particular, it has failed to provide public shelters or fortification of schools, for

example, to the Palestinian communities living in the unrecognized villages and some of the

recognized villages. It ought to go without saying that the thousands of Palestinian Israelis–

including a significant number of children – who live within the range of rocket fire,

deserve the same protection as the Israeli Government provides to its Jewish citizens.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

1935. From the facts gathered, the Mission found that the following grave breaches of the

Fourth Geneva Convention were committed by the Israeli armed forces in Gaza: wilful

killing, torture or inhuman treatment, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to

body or health, and extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity

and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. As grave breaches these acts give rise to

individual criminal responsibility. The Mission notes that the use of human shields also

constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

1936. The Mission further considers that the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the

Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their

freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their

rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find

that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed.

1947. Insofar as movement and access restrictions, the settlements and their

infrastructure, demographic policies vis-à-vis Jerusalem and “Area C” of the West Bank,

as well as the separation of Gaza from the West Bank, prevent a viable, contiguous and

sovereign Palestinian State from arising, they are in violation of the jus cogens right to selfdetermination.

HAMAS CRIMES

1953. The Mission also examined whether the Palestinian armed groups complied with

their obligations under international humanitarian law to take constant care to minimize

the risk of harm to the civilian population in Gaza among whom the hostilities were being

conducted. The conduct of hostilities in built-up areas does not, of itself, constitute a

violation of international law. However, launching attacks – whether of rockets and

mortars at the population of southern Israel or at the Israeli armed forces inside Gaza –

close to civilian or protected buildings constitutes a failure to take all feasible precautions.

In cases where this occurred, the Palestinian armed groups would have unnecessarily

exposed the civilian population of Gaza to the inherent dangers of the military operations

taking place around them. The Mission found no evidence to suggest that Palestinian

armed groups either directed civilians to areas where attacks were being launched or that

they forced civilians to remain within the vicinity of the attacks. The Mission also found no

evidence that members of Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat in civilian dress.

Although in the one incident of an Israeli attack on a mosque it investigated the Mission

found that there was no indication that that mosque was used for military purposes or to

shield military activities, the Mission cannot exclude that this might have occurred in other

cases.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO ISRAEL

1972. To the State of Israel,

(a) The Mission recommends that Israel should immediately cease the border

closures and restrictions on passage through border crossings with the Gaza Strip and

allow the passage of goods necessary and sufficient to meet the needs of the population, for

the recovery and reconstruction of housing and essential services, and for the resumption

of meaningful economic activity in the Gaza Strip;

(b) The Mission recommends that Israel should cease the restrictions on access to

the sea for fishing purposes imposed on the Gaza Strip and allow such fishing activities

within the 20 nautical miles as provided for in the Oslo Accords. It further recommends

that Israel should allow the resumption of agricultural activity within the Gaza Strip,

including within areas in the vicinity of the borders with Israel;

(c) Israel should initiate a review of the rules of engagement, standard operating

procedures, open fire regulations and other guidance for military and security personnel.

The Mission recommends that Israel should avail itself of the expertise of the International

Committee of the Red Cross, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for

Human Rights and other relevant bodies, and Israeli experts, civil society organizations

with the relevant expertise and specialization, in order to ensure compliance in this respect

with international humanitarian law and international human rights law. In particular

such rules of engagement should ensure that the principles of proportionality, distinction,

precaution and non-discrimination are effectively integrated in all such guidance and in

any oral briefings provided to officers, soldiers and security forces, so as to avoid the

recurrence of Palestinian civilian deaths, destruction and affronts on human dignity in

violation of international law;

(d) The Mission recommends that Israel should allow freedom of movement for

Palestinians within the Occupied Palestinian Territory – within the West Bank, including

East Jerusalem, between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and between the Occupied

Palestinian Territory and the outside world – in accordance with international human

rights standards and international commitments entered into by Israel and the

representatives of the Palestinian people. The Mission further recommends that Israel

should forthwith lift travel bans currently placed on Palestinians by reason of their human

rights or political activities;

(e) The Mission recommends that Israel should release Palestinians who are

detained in Israeli prisons in connection with the occupation. The release of children

should be an utmost priority. The Mission further recommends that Israel should cease the

discriminatory treatment of Palestinian detainees. Family visits for prisoners from Gaza

should resume;

(f) The Mission recommends that Israel should forthwith cease interference with

national political processes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and as a first step release

all members of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently in detention and allow all

members of the Council to move between Gaza and the West Bank so that it may resume

functioning;

(g) The Mission recommends that the Government of Israel should cease actions

aimed at limiting the expression of criticism by civil society and members of the public

concerning Israel’s policies and conduct during the military operations in the Gaza Strip.

The Mission also recommends that Israel should set up an independent inquiry to assess

whether the treatment by Israeli judicial authorities of Palestinian and Jewish Israelis

expressing dissent in connection with the offensive was discriminatory, in terms of both

charges and detention pending trial. The results of the inquiry should be made public and,

subject to the findings, appropriate remedial action should be taken;

(h) The Mission recommends that the Government of Israel should refrain from

any action of reprisal against Palestinian and Israeli individuals and organizations that

have cooperated with the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, in

particular individuals who have appeared at the public hearings held by the Mission in

Gaza and Geneva and expressed criticism of actions by Israel;

(i) The Mission recommends that Israel should reiterate its commitment to

respecting the inviolability of United Nations premises and personnel and that it should

undertake all appropriate measures to ensure that there is no repetition of violations in the

future. It further recommends that reparation to the United Nations should be provided

fully and without further delay by Israel, and that the General Assembly should consider

this matter.

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Comments
One Response to “The Goldstone Report: First, a very long guide”
  1. Marilyn Shepherd says:

    Thank you Michael.. I have read through all the other reports as well as this one and have also been trying hard to raise the awareness of our own terrorism against refugees.

    Finally some in the media are picking up the stories while we support terrorism like this and lock up any refugees who dare to escape Afghanistan or Iraq and the illegal wars we have launched on them.

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