Urgently investigate serious violations of international humanitarian law by Hamas in Gaza
Petitioning United Nations Human Rights Council
Hamas is an internationally recognised terrorist organisation, which is launching missile attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilians and endangering the lives of innocent Palestinians. We call on the UN Human Rights Council to urgently investigate the serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by Hamas, including:
1. Indiscriminately firing missiles at Israel, with the intention to cause maximum death and devastation. These missiles have killed, traumatised and terrorised Israelis. Residents of southern Israel have only 15 seconds to find shelter each time. Hamas has deliberately aimed missiles at an international airport andnuclear installation. Many missiles have fallen inside Gaza, even destroying UN facilities; a rocket strike on an electricity cable cut off power to thousands of Gazans. The Palestinian delegate to the Human Rights Council has said that “each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity”.
2. Using Palestinian civilians as human shields. Hamas has urged Palestinians to scale rooftops, forcing Israel to abort strikes on military targets, and has ordered civilians not to evacuate fighting zones when Israel has urged them to leave for their own safety. Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, has said that Hamas’s strategy is “to force the IDF to kill innocent civilians” as a cynical means of creating international pressure against Israel to stop defending itself.
3. Hijacking civilian infrastructure for terrorist purposes. Hamas has been firing rockets from inside densely populated civilian areas, which UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay has called “unacceptable”. Hamas has hidden missiles in civilian facilities, including schools run by UNRWA. Hamas is using the Shifa Hospital as its military headquarters. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said: “We condemn the use of civilian sites — schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities — for military purposes.”
4. Infiltrating Israel through tunnels, intending to commit a massacre or abduct Israelis. Israel has narrowly averted several such infiltration attempts by gunmen, who have attempted to penetrate Israel in order to perpetrate a massive terrorist atrocity in border villages and kibbutzim.
5. Diverting humanitarian aid for military purposes. Hamas has diverted hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete that entered Gaza for civilian purposes, to build a vast network of underground tunnels and missile silos instead of meeting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population.
6. Using ambulances for military purposes. Hamas has used humanitarian vehicles to carry out military acts and disguise combatants as civilians.
7. Employing child soldiers as suicide bombers. Israeli troops are reported to have been attacked by children as young as 13 wearing explosive belts.
8. Stopping Palestinians from reaching urgent medical assistance. Hamas has prevented civilians from reaching the field hospital that Israel set up at the Erez Crossing to treat injured Palestinians, and it has even fired missiles on this hospital to frustrate attempts to treat them.
Hamas has shown utter contempt and disregard for human life, both Israeli and Palestinian. The UN Human Rights Council must investigate without delay and hold Hamas accountable for its actions in violation of international law.