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In Gaza, justice delayed is justice denied

Israeli army investigators have not even contacted the teenage victim of one of the few alleged war crimes it says it is probing. More than two months after Israel’s assault on Gaza began, victims of the air, land, and sea invasion continue to have no recourse against their occupiers.

It’s been nearly two months since 17-year-old Ahmad Abu Raida says he was used as a human shield by Israeli forces near the Gaza border town of Khan Younis. Since then, human rights organizations and various media outlets have reported on the case (+972 was among the first), but Abu Raida has yet to face his alleged captors — and, so far, his family sees no hope for justice.

Although Israeli army’s office of the Military Advocate General said it has opened an investigation into the case, Abu Raida’s father said on Monday that neither he nor his son had been contacted by the military. That comes as no surprise to Brad Parker, an attorney with Defence for Children International’s Palestine section, which first documented Abu Raida’s story.

Ahmad Abu Raida (Photo courtesy of DCI-Palestine)

Ahmad Abu Raida (Photo courtesy of DCI-Palestine)

“Impunity is the norm, as investigations are neither transparent nor independent and rarely result in an Israeli soldier being held criminally responsible or accountable,” Parker told +972. “How serious can any investigation be where, as of today, no Israeli investigator has even contacted Ahmad or his family to gather information concerning his use as a human shield?”

Abu Raida’s case is one of only a handful still being “investigated” by the MAG’s office. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said last week that Israel had committed war crimes during its 51-day assault on Gaza this summer. Others, including participants in the upcoming Russell Tribunal on Palestine, are asking whether Israel’s actions constituted “genocide.”

The tribunal, slated for September 24-25 in Brussels, will include law professors John Dugard and Richard Falk, both of whom have served as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestine. In a press release announcing the two-day “extraordinary” session, the organizers said: “[t]he Tribunal will examine Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and, for the first time regarding Israel, the crime of genocide.”

Read +972’s full coverage of the Gaza war

The United Nations defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

“In a context where systemic impunity is the status quo, initiatives like the Russell Tribunal on Palestine are needed to push for and deliver justice and accountability,” said Parker. He also cited the International Criminal Court, but attempts to bring claims against Israel there have been hobbled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has yet to sign the Rome Statute defining the court’s purview.

For Palestinians with claims against Israel, the lack of recourse under international law only encourages the state’s impunity. Using language from the ICC itself, leading Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem announced on September 8 that it would no longer cooperate with the MAG because Israel is “unable and unwilling” to investigate itself.

B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad called the MAG inquiry into Abu Raida’s case a “whitewash,” adding, “the announcement demonstrates one of the current system’s main shortcomings — its adamant refusal to investigate senior officials and examine, honestly, wide-ranging policy issues pertaining to Israel’s use of military force.”

Meanwhile, the Abu Raida family, like tens of thousands of others whose homes were damaged or destroyed during Israel’s air, land and sea bombardment, continues to piece together what remains of their lives. In that sense, they are among the fortunate in Gaza, where more than 2,100 people, including 501 children, were killed. How that happened — and who will be held responsible — remain pressing questions for Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians.

Related:
Short-term memory loss champions of the world: Gaza? What Gaza?
Leading Israeli human rights group stops cooperating with IDF Gaza probes
PHOTOS: Living in the ruins of a shattered Gaza neighborhood

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    COMMENTS

    1. bor

      Should they call his Hamas father (yes, Hamas member father) to find out how it is there were no bruises (at all) and the clothes he was supposedly wearing no longer exist or should they call to ask how it’s possible that his story makes zero sense?

      Reply to Comment
    2. David T

      No Bor, the military wing (yes, military wing) of the Jewish democracy should make him force to sign a confession in Hebrew that he threw stones.

      Reply to Comment
      • bor

        They might, except that Israel is entirely outside of Gaza. No soldiers and no civilians.

        By the way, Palestinian kids never throw stones or molotov cocktails. Never ever.

        http://youtu.be/TF7cFQ_Bj2Y

        Reply to Comment
    3. Tomer

      Well, its all the Gazans fault for voting in Hamas in the first place.

      Reply to Comment
      • ***Well, its all the Gazans fault for voting in Hamas in the first place.***

        That includes those who didn’t vote for Hamas, as well as those not eligible to vote like underagers etc, correct?

        Reply to Comment
    4. ***By the way, Palestinian kids never throw stones or molotov cocktails. Never ever.***

      Yes, they do.

      But they never ever do this because they have a motive, do they? They just do this because they like doing it and because they’ll grow to be terrorists anyway, right? Or because they hate Jews, just for the fun of it, right?

      Reply to Comment
      • bor

        Well, their motive appears to stem from influence by their leaders’ refusal to make peace with Israel and to establish a Palestinian state.

        And when you acknowledge the truth, which is that they throw stones, sometimes with deadly effect as well as molotov cocktails, you also acknowledge why they sometimes get arrested. That’s without getting into the use of children to transport arms, bombing materials and even bombs.

        It’s a lousy situation, but the Palestinians have to make peace with Israel or it will likely continue.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bor:

          Very recently Netanyahu made it very clear he would NEVER accept a Palestinian state.

          Hamas on the other hand have FOR YEARS been proposing a 10 year ceasefire (Hudna) with aim of establishing a two state solution.

          Who here is the rejectionist?

          Re. stone throwing, any opinion on settler ‘price tag’ attacks? The disgusting behaviour of settler kids towards Palestinians in Hebron?

          You seem to think there are only extremists on one side. Quite funny because on the Zionist side you’re one hardline hawkish extremist yourself…

          Reply to Comment
          • bor

            I’m a hawkish extremist?

            No. The discussion has gone so far to the left that even people who seek compromise look like hawks today.

            Hudnas are meaningless, particularly when your stated goal is to destroy the place with which you’re making the hudna. Why would Israel agree to let Hamas build tunnels, rockets and other military infrastructure for 10 years? So they could lose 2000 soldiers next time? So their airport could be under attack? Stop being silly and assuming we all are.

            Anyway, these days all the talk of peace, statehood and everything else has become moot thanks to the education Hamas and ISIS have provided to all of us. Israelis aren’t suicidal.

            Reply to Comment
          • david gold, esq.

            Hamas has only agreed to a temporary ceasefire till it overpowers the infidel. You sound like a gullible westerner with no understanding of Islam.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            “Overpowers the infidel.”

            Remember this is Hamas you’re talking about, not Islamic State. They have no imperial ambitions or illusions about what they are capable of or what they can achieve in the end.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Richard

      I really hope Dugard and Falk the 9/11 truther find Israel guilty of genocide. Along with the ANC calling Israel’s founding a crime against humanity, the frothing of enemies is becoming so intense, its really quite an entertaining spectacle.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Dove

      Well you prove that Palestinians can’t hold responsible for their choice they’ve made or acts. Israel hatred will keep your hurts till the end of times.

      I know one thing for sure: if million Jews received Gaza strip back in 48′ we would make it shine like a diamond.

      keep your investments in rockets and childish propaganda if that’s what you wish. The real problem? – you too cowered to admit you can’t do NOTHING for yourselves. hospitals, hotels, sports, science- nothing except violence and middle ages brutality.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        From the US Department of State 2013 Investment Climate Report we learn that “Palestinian businesses have a reputation for professionalism and product quality. Large Palestinian enterprises are internationally connected, with partnerships extending to Asia, Europe, the Gulf, and the Americas. The Palestinian economy is small and relatively open, although several large holding companies dominate some sectors. Because of the small size of the local market, access to foreign markets through trade is essential for private sector growth. However, restrictions on the movement and access of goods and people between the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and external markets imposed by the Government of Israel (GOI) continue to have a deleterious effect on the private sector and limit economic growth.” If the situation were reversed and Israelis had been exiled to Gaza and then blockaded, besieged and repeatedly bombed by the Palestinians who colonised Israel do you really believe that Israeli entrepreneurs would have created a polished diamond in Gaza. Perhaps you are right, but only because the powerful Gaza lobby of international plutocrats would not have allowed Palestinian oppression of Israeli Gaza to destroy the region the way the State of Israel has been allowed to. Perhaps also the Gaza Defence League would have been more effective at resistance than Hamas has been.

        Reply to Comment
        • Dennis

          Very interesting evaluation of Palestinian business environment. I wonder why the rest of the Muslim world hasn’t allowed them to emigrate to their countries to take advantage of the high quality of their endeavors. Egypt is so close by, but blockaded. Israels fault? If the rest of the Muslim world really wanted to end bloodshed in Gaza, they would open their doors and hearts to the Muslim brothers and sisters.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Well both parties could play that game couldn’t they – Israelis could all emigrate to the USA where they would be much safer, and more prosperous and in complete control of the government. But such a resolution were be an absurd proposal, so please don’t suggest that the Palestinians do not have as deep an attachment to their ancestral homeland as the recently arrived Jews have to the land they immigrated to, and don’t suggest that there would be no problem if the Palestinians simply got lost.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Al

      A much more urgent investigation should be whether the writers of this article are taking hallucinatory drugs, are mentally ill, or simply hate Israel and will come up with inflammatory accusations no matter what…

      Help keep you going??? How do I help shut you down?!

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        How could anyone possibly criticise Israeli war-crimes? Only one possible explanation isn’t there – drugs, insanity and hatred. When all other justifications fail we can always fall back on name-calling. Thank you for your wise and perceptive remarks.

        Reply to Comment