Killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli occupation forces are a weekly occurrence which have become normalized by the lack of consequences suffered by those who perpetrate these crimes. In the last ten years, almost 3,000 Palestinians have died at the hands of Israeli military forces or illegal settlers, including children.
Let’s have a look at the figures:
3812 Palestinians have been killed in the last decade by either Israeli occupation forces or by Israeli settlers. So what about accountability?
According to a study carried out by Israeli human rights NGO Yesh Din, perpetrators of these crimes rarely face justice. They analysed casualties associated with the Great March of Return, a weekly protest march which took place in Gaza to highlight the fact that Palestinians have a right to return to the homes they were ethnically cleansed from during the 1948 Nakba. Yesh Din said “In certain conditions, soldiers were permitted to use live fire against protestors who did not pose a clear and immediate danger to human life. This policy showed unprecedented disregard for human life on Israel’s part and has resulted in the death and injury of protestors on a scale rarely seen even relative to the familiar standards of the Israeli occupation and the violent clashes it produces in the Occupied Territories.”
The data, which was last updated in April 2021, shows that the Israeli army referred 234 fatalities for what they term a “fact-finding assessment”. Of these assessments, 36 were sent for investigation. Of those 36, one investigation resulted in an indictment which was unrelated to extra-judicial killing. The sentence was military community service, which is business as usual for soldiers.
In other words, there were no repercussions for the killing and maiming of human beings.
877 of those killed were children. In May 2021, following an Israeli bombardment of civilian areas in Gaza, the New York Times took the unprecedented step of naming and picturing all of the children killed on their front page, humanising the faces behind the numbers and broadcasting the devastating grief of their families to a worldwide audience.
One of those children was 10 year old Dima. She was walking from her big sister’s house back to her Mam’s carrying a soccer ball sized pizza oven. She was killed by an Israeli drone hovering overhead in a targeted attack. Her father said
On 3rd March 2021, The then-Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, announced an investigation would take place. “Today, I confirm the initiation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court of an investigation respecting the Situation in Palestine. The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed in the Situation since 13 June 2014, the date to which reference is made in the Referral of the Situation to my Office.”
This investigation is sure to be a lengthy process but whether it finally brings justice to the families of those victims of Israel’s extra-judicial killings remains to be seen.