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Comment and Opinion

INSS: The violent events along the Gaza-Israel border: The report of the Commission of Inquiry of the Human Rights Council, by Pnina Sharvit-Baruch

According to the report presented by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) established by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the use of force surrounding the events at the Gaza fence, there are reasonable grounds to believe that in the vast majority of cases the use of live ammunition by Israeli soldiers against the demonstrators was unlawful and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. The report claims that the demonstrations were civilian in nature, had clearly stated political aims, and despite some acts of significant violence, did not constitute combat or a military campaign. Israel, however, contends that one cannot view the events as peaceful demonstrations within a state, since these were violent riots taking place along the border between two entities engaged in an armed conflict, organized and led by one of those parties, i.e., Hamas. The huge gap between the positions of Israel and the COI stems mainly from the fact that the report adopts entirely the viewpoint of the Palestinian victims, with no regard to the complex reality of the situation and to the ramifications of the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas. As with previous reports on Israel’s conduct, there is no doubt that this report will serve to criticize Israel in the international arena and to spur efforts toward criminal proceedings, sanctions, and other measures. However, the one-sidedness of the report might prevent reliance on its conclusions by those making professional determinations.

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