Opinion Columns & Blogs

Hamas and Israel must account for Gaza violence

Last month, the United Nations Human Rights council accused both Israel and the Palestinian party Hamas of war crimes during their clash last summer in the Gaza Strip, and last week the council called on both parties to be accountable.

Each bears responsibility for killing and destruction and each must address the U.N.’s concerns.

Investigators said Israel violated international law in its two-month offensive against Hamas. Israel Defense Forces, the report said, bombed residential buildings with no demonstrable military function, used weapons that threatened people and structures around intended targets, and sometimes failed to warn civilians of operations ahead of time.

Israeli soldiers, the document concluded, did not exercise enough caution when they fought in built-up areas in Gaza. This contributed to a high number of Palestinian casualties — more than 2,000, including more than 500 children. Israel’s aggression came after a Hamas affiliate murdered three Israeli teenagers and the terror group fired rockets at the country’s major cities.

The U.N. report said Hamas also committed war crimes: hiding weapons in schools, building subterranean tunnels near the border with Gaza to raid enemy towns and aiming rocket fire at civilian communities in Israel. Hamas is known for dispensing mob-style justice against opponents and calling for a second Holocaust against the Jewish people.

Both Israel and Hamas objected to the report’s findings, but last week’s U.N. council vote, 41-1 with five abstentions, called on both sides to take responsibility. The United States cast the sole “no” vote.

The American jurist — and Jewish nationalist — Louis Brandeis wrote that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Israel and Hamas should respond to the allegations in the U.N. report, punish those responsible for war crimes and change military protocol as needed.

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