Gaza conflict of 2014: both sides condemned for possible war crimes and both sides refuse to accept condemnation

As reported here, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has concluded an inquiry by finding that both Israel and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

But neither side accepts this. Israel has dismissed the investigation as “politically motivated and morally flawed”, while Hamas said it wrongly equated “the victim and executioner”.

So Israel thinks that it is not a war crime if – in its view – it is morally in the right. And Hamas believes it is not a war crime if – in its view – it is the victim.

So what is the definition of a war crime? This is a complicated matter legally as explained here. But consider these two examples of a war crime:

  • “Wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity” – sounds like the air and land attacks on Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force
  • “Attack, or bombardment, by whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings” – sounds like the rocket attacks by Hamas on Israeli towns and villages

The point is that a war crime is not defined by whether it is moral or immoral (see Israeli comment) or by whether one is the agressor or the victim (see Hamas comment).

As the 50-day conflict of 2014 came to an end, I did a blog posting looking at the cost of the conflict and examining what had been achieved.  Whether or not war crimes were committed, the cost was massive and the achievement minimal.


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