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2018 | Adalah The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, report submitted to the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

With this report, Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel aims to support the work of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, committed by Israeli military against protesters in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in March 2018.[1]

The report considers the findings and recommendations made by three Israeli domestic bodies, the Turkel Commission (2013), the  Ciechanover Team (2015), and the State Comptroller’s Office (2018 – hereafter ‘SCO report’). These bodies have consecutively reviewed and produced findings about the state’s investigatory mechanisms in relation to previous incidences of alleged violations of Palestinians’ rights under humanitarian and human rights law. All of them have identified multiple grave flaws within that system.

In this report, Adalah focuses mostly on the SCO report, that in turn reviewed the previous two reports as well as drawing on the most recent Military Advocate General (MAG) Update – Update #6 - issued in August 2018, regarding its handling of cases brought before it.  According to Adalah, the SCO report ‘provides evidence of chronic inaction at the domestic level regarding grave incidents that took place during OPE in 2014.’ Adalah also cites the lack of progress made on criminal complaints filed by Adalah and Al Mezan to the Israeli authorities. In particular, of 28 criminal complaints of suspected IHL violations committed by Israeli military personnel during OPE, jointly filed by Adalah and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights to the MAG and the Israeli Attorney General, the MAG opened investigations in only three cases, two have since been closed and one remains pending. 13 cases were closed without the opening of an investigation, and six are allegedly still under examination. No indictments have been issued in any of the cases. This report claims that ‘the lack of a sound and functional domestic investigatory system in Israel upholds the culture of impunity that permeates all echelons of Israel’s military and civilian apparatus that determines policy and conduct towards Gaza.’

Adalah’s report concludes that Israel’s investigatory system is unable to provide accountability or redress to Palestinian victims of suspected IHL violations. It also falls far short of compliance with international law standards of independence, impartiality, effectiveness, promptness and transparency. As long as Israel persists in failing to conduct genuine investigations and to prosecute military and political personnel responsible for IHL violations, impunity will continue to prevail. Consequently, the report urges for an international intervention to provide remedies and accountability for Palestinian victims of the 2018 protests.

[1] The Commission of Inquiry was established in May 2018 to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018. The Commission is mandated to make recommendations on civilian protection and ensuring legal accountability, including individual criminal and command responsibility.