Human Rights Groups Call for Access to
Investigate War Crimes in Gaza
According to an August 20th, 2014 Al Jazeera report, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have raised concerns that the Israeli officials have not allowed these groups to begin looking into war crimes committed during the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. In the Al Jazeera piece, Anne FitzGerald, who is the Director of Research and Crisis Response for Amnesty International, was quoted as saying that “The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll mounts[.]” FitzGerald went on to say that “The victims’ and the public’s right to know about what happened during the hostilities requires the Israeli authorities to ensure full transparency about their actions and to refrain from hindering independent and impartial research into all alleged violations [.]”
On multiple occasions, the organizations tried to get a permit to cross into Gaza at the Erez Crossing, but were unable to do so.
This report sheds light on states unwilling to work with human rights organizations regarding the examination of activities as they relate to war and military offensives. State leaders have traditionally been careful to open themselves up to international actors and international law, since to some, this decreases the level of sovereignty that state leaders have. However, in order for human rights law to work more efficiently, not only does there need to be an ability for NGOs to operate, but the state must have a complete commitment to the international rule of law. This is why this story is concerning, as it seems that the Israeli officials in charge of the crossing are not willing to allow such organizations to look into possible war crimes.
Israel has taken issue with the Human Rights Council Panel that was recently formed, and now, it seems that groups such as Amnesty International are not given access to assess the situation and what exactly transpired. This is sad for the citizens and family members of those killed in Gaza. While after the fact investigations and war crimes trials never bring a person back, they at least are one way to attempt to reach a form of justice as it relates to human rights violations committed.
Let us hope that human rights organizations will be able to enter into Gaza and work on investigating the various killings that took place during Israel’s invasion into Gaza.