Operation Cast Lead
In the 22-day Israeli military offensive (Operation “Cast Lead”) in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including some 300 children, and large areas of Gaza were razed to the ground, leaving many thousands homeless and the already dire economy in ruins.
Hundreds of civilians were killed in attacks carried out using high-precision weapons – bombs and missiles from F-16 combat aircraft and sophisticated unmanned drones, and tank shells. Others, including women and children, were shot at short range when posing no threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers. Others still were killed in indiscriminate attacks with weapons which cannot be accurately aimed, such as mortars and artillery shells, and white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately over densely populated residential areas, causing severe and fatal burn injuries as well as setting homes, schools and hospitals ablaze. Medical personnel and facilities also came under attack from the Israeli army and their work was hindered.
In southern Israel civilians also came under attack from indiscriminate rockets fired daily by Palestinian armed groups throughout the 22-day conflict. The armed wing of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups launched several hundred rockets and mortars into southern Israel, killing three civilians and injuring dozens of others. Several homes and other structures were damaged, some extensively. Six Israeli soldiers were also killed in Palestinian attacks.
Both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides have failed to investigate the violations of international law, including war crimes, committed by their forces. The responsibility now lies with the international community to take concrete steps to ensure justice and redress for the victims and accountability for the perpetrators on all sides. UN investigators, led by the internationally respected Justice Richard Goldstone, have now concluded their report on the Gaza conflict. Ensuring the implementation of the Goldstone report recommendations is a crucial step towards obtaining reparations for the victims and revealing the truth about the crimes committed. If those responsible are brought to justice others will be deterred from committing violations of international law in the future.
Sustainable peace cannot be achieved without justice.