[The following report was issued by FIDH in April 2015. Section II, containing the "Aim of the Report," is excerpted below. The full report may be read here.]
The following sections will examine attacks committed by Israeli forces during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. In particular, the following incidents will be highlighted:
• Indiscriminate attacks on civilians and their residences;
• Attacks on medical facilities, transport and personnel;
• Attacks on structures providing shelter to internally displaced populations;
• Attacks on objects indispensable for civilian survival.
Evidence indicates that by launching both indiscriminate and direct attacks against civilians and civilian objects, launching attacks disproportionate to any concrete military advantage, deliberately attacking medical services and refusing access to humanitarian relief, among other acts, the Israeli army violated certain fundamental principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) applicable to the conduct of hostilities. These include the following (as defined by the ICRC):
Distinction: “The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians.”1 Distinction must also be made between military and civilian objects (including houses, infrastructure, hospitals, places of worship, etc.): “The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives. Attacks may only be directed against military objectives. Attacks must not be directed against civilian objects.”
Proportionality: “Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.”
Precaution: “In the conduct of military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects. All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.”
From the evidence documented during the mission, this report also qualifies these violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed during the operation as potential war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to Articles 7 and 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ratified by 123 States, the Statute includes definitions of serious international crimes generally recognized as codifications of customary law.
On 1 January 2015, Palestine filed a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, granting the ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory from 13 June 2014 onwards. On 2 January 2015, Palestine ratified the Rome Statute. The jurisdiction granted under the 12(3) declaration includes crimes committed in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge. Individuals of any nationality who commit genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes on occupied Palestinian territory may be held criminally liable by the International Criminal Court. On 16 January 2015, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine.