HaMoked and other human rights organizations in an urgent call to the attorney general: establish an independent mechanism of inquiry into instances of attacks on civilians and non-military targets during the fighting in Gaza, which raise concerns of Israeli breaches of international humanitarian law המוקד להגנת הפרט
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21.01.2009
HaMoked and other human rights organizations in an urgent call to the attorney general: establish an independent mechanism of inquiry into instances of attacks on civilians and non-military targets during the fighting in Gaza, which raise concerns of Israeli breaches of international humanitarian law
HaMoked and other human rights organizations in an urgent call to the attorney general: establish an independent mechanism of inquiry into instances of attacks on civilians and non-military targets during the fighting in Gaza, which raise concerns of Israeli breaches of international humanitarian law
In the letter, dated January 20, 2009, the organizations stress that preliminary information suggests there are more than 1,300 fatalities, of them 410 children, 104 women, and thirteen medical personnel. From the entry of the Israeli ground forces into Gaza, the death toll rose by at least 485, over half of whom were women and children. In the attacks some 5,300 were injured, including 1,855 children and 795 women, all in all more than 300 were severely injured. 

The data accumulated from various sources, raises concerns that throughout the fighting many civilian targets were attacked, including structures where civilians were present during the attack. The organizations emphasize that although fragmentary, the information gives rise to an obligation to initiate an independent and impartial body of inquiry into the killing of so many civilians and the attacks on non-military targets. Furthermore, the information gathered so far raises the concern that Israel has breached the principles of distinction and proportionality – in view of its attacks in densely populated areas and its use of weapons which do not allow distinguishing between civilians and combatants.

The organizations stress that Hamas's conduct, which breaches international humanitarian law, does not absolve Israel of its obligations under the same. The basic principles of international humanitarian law, including the distinction between combatants and civilians and between legitimate military targets and non-military ones, are not subject to reciprocity. Israel is required to act proportionately and do its utmost to minimize the harm to civilians during fighting.

Past experience validate the worthiness of establishing an independent body of inquiry into the alleged violations of international humanitarian law by the military and soldiers during the fighting in Gaza.
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In the letter, dated January 20, 2009, the organizations stress that preliminary information suggests there are more than 1,300 fatalities, of them 410 children, 104 women, and thirteen medical personnel. From the entry of the Israeli ground forces into Gaza, the death toll rose by at least 485, over half of whom were women and children. In the attacks some 5,300 were injured, including 1,855 children and 795 women, all in all more than 300 were severely injured. 

The data accumulated from various sources, raises concerns that throughout the fighting many civilian targets were attacked, including structures where civilians were present during the attack. The organizations emphasize that although fragmentary, the information gives rise to an obligation to initiate an independent and impartial body of inquiry into the killing of so many civilians and the attacks on non-military targets. Furthermore, the information gathered so far raises the concern that Israel has breached the principles of distinction and proportionality – in view of its attacks in densely populated areas and its use of weapons which do not allow distinguishing between civilians and combatants.

The organizations stress that Hamas's conduct, which breaches international humanitarian law, does not absolve Israel of its obligations under the same. The basic principles of international humanitarian law, including the distinction between combatants and civilians and between legitimate military targets and non-military ones, are not subject to reciprocity. Israel is required to act proportionately and do its utmost to minimize the harm to civilians during fighting.

Past experience validate the worthiness of establishing an independent body of inquiry into the alleged violations of international humanitarian law by the military and soldiers during the fighting in Gaza.
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