The Russell Tribunal on Palestine’s Emergency Session on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge held yesterday in Brussels has found evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide. The Jury reported: ‘The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza.’ ‘The Tribunal emphasises the potential for a regime of persecution to become genocidal in effect, In light of the clear escalation in the physical and rhetorical violence deployed in respect of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Tribunal emphasises the obligation of all state parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide.’ The Jury heard evidence from eyewitnesses to Israeli attacks during the Gaza war 2014 including journalists Mohammed Omer, Max Blumenthal, David Sheen, Martin Lejeune, Eran Efrati and Paul Mason, as well as surgeons Mads Gilbert, Mohammed Abou Arab, Genocide Expert Paul Behrens, Col Desmond Travers and Ivan Karakashian, Head of Advocacy and Defence for Children International. In terms of the crime of incitement to genocide, the tribunal received evidence ‘demonstrating a vitriolic upswing in racist rhetoric and incitement’ during the summer of 2014. ‘The evidence shows that such incitement manifested across many levels of Israeli society, on both social and traditional media, from football fans, police officers, media commentators, religious leaders, legislators, and government ministers.’ The Tribunal also found evidence of the following war crimes: – Willful killing – Extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity – Intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and civilian objects – Disproportionate use of force – Attacks against buildings dedicated to religion and education – The use of Palestinians as human shields – Employing weapons, projectiles, and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering which are inherently indiscriminate – The use of violence to spread terror among the civilian population The Tribunal further stated: ‘It is recognised that in a situation where patterns of crimes against humanity are perpetrated with impunity, and where direct and public incitement to genocide is manifest throughout society, it is very conceivable that individuals or the state may choose to exploit the conditions in order to perpetrate the crime of genocide. It further noted: ‘We have have a genuine fear that in an environment of impunity and an absence of sanction for serious and repeated criminality, the lessons from Rwanda and other mass atrocities may once again go unheeded’. The Tribunal calls on Israel to fulfill its’ obligations under international law and for the state of Palestine to accede without further delay to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, fully cooperate with the human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry and fully engage the mechanisms of international justice. The Tribunal also reminds all states to cooperate to bring to an end the illegal situation arising from Israel’s occupation, siege and crimes in the Gaza Strip. In light of the obligation not to render aid or assistance, all states must consider appropriate measures to exert sufficient pressure on Israel, including the imposition of sanctions, the severing of diplomatic relations collectively through international organisations, or in the absence of consensus, individually by breaking bilateral relations with Israel. It calls upon All states to fulfill their duty ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide’. The Full and detailed findings and recommendations of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine can be found at the Russell Tribunal website. The Tribunal will present its’ findings to the European Parliament today.
Summary of findings “The Gaza War (2014) under International Law: An Inquiry into Israel’s Crimes, Responsibility, and the Response of International Community ”. Extraordinary session, Brussels, 25 September 2014