17 February 2009
Some 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including more than 300
children, and 13 Israelis, three of them civilians, were killed during the
recent three-week conflict in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. Israeli
military operations also devastated Gaza’s infrastructure and created a
Amnesty International researchers who visited
both Gaza and southern Israel during the fighting and in its immediate aftermath
found compelling evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of
international humanitarian law.
This included direct attacks by Israeli
forces on Palestinian civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, attacks which
breached the prohibition on disproportionate attacks and the use of weapons,
such as white phosphorus, which have indiscriminate effects when used in densely
populated civilian areas.
In the same period, Hamas and other
Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of indiscriminate rockets into civilian
population centres in southern Israel.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced on 12 February 2009 that a UN Board
of Inquiry had begun its work “to review and investigate a number of specific
incidents that occurred in the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 19
January 2009 and in which death or injuries occurred at, and/or damage was done
to, United Nations premises or in the course of United Nations operations."
Amnesty International has described the move as "welcome, but
insufficient" since most of the unlawful attacks for which evidence is available
will fall outside the scope of the UN's Board of Inquiry, and is therefore
calling on the UN, and the Security Council in particular, to comprehensively
address all instances of violations of international law during the
"The UN's investigation must not be so limited as to look
only at recent attacks by Israeli forces on UN schools, staff and property in
Gaza. It is not only the victims of attacks on the UN who have a right to know
why their rights were violated and who was responsible, and to obtain justice
Join Amnesty International in urging the UN not to forget the other victims
of the conflict while it is investigating attacks on its own staff and
H.E. Mr Ibrahim Dabbashi, Chargé d'affaires ad interim (Lybia),
represents the current President of the UN Security
Please send your appeals before 1 April 2009.
Write a Letter to H.E. Mr Ibrahim Dabbashi
I am concerned by the devastation inflicted on civilians in Gaza and southern
Israel in the recent conflict.
Amnesty International researchers in Gaza have
found evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international
humanitarian law and other abuses of human rights committed by all parties to
I welcome the call of the United Nations Security Council for
the unrestricted provision of humanitarian assistance and the re-opening of
Gaza’s crossing points as called for by resolution 1860.
I also welcome the
investigation of the attacks on UN facilities announced by Secretary General Ban
Ki-Moon on 10 February 2009. However, this investigation does not address most
of the attacks.
It is not only the victims of those attacks who deserve to
know the truth and see justice done for the crimes committed against them. I am
concerned that the Security Council has not addressed the question of
accountability for all abuses of human rights and international humanitarian
law, without which there can be no sustainable peace or security.
I urge you
to ensure that the Security Council addresses the question of accountability for
all international crimes by establishing an independent international inquiry
into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human
rights law by Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups participating in
An international fact-finding team of qualified experts must be
sent to the region to carry out comprehensive investigations and, where there is
sufficient evidence, persons suspected of perpetrating crimes under
international law must be prosecuted in proceedings that meet international
standards of fairness.