onislam.net/Israel Blocks Gaza War-Crimes Probe

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SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-International rights groups have accused Israel of hindering war-crimes investigations in Gaza, reiterating calls to offer access to the besieged territories through the Israeli-controlled borders amid entry ban that has been imposed since the start of hostilities last July.

“The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll mounts,” Anne FitzGerald, Amnesty International’s director of Research and Crisis Response, said in a statement cited by Al Jazeera America on Wednesday, August 20.

According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the resumption of fighting in Gaza is vital for investigating and monitoring the situation.

Condemning Israel’s ban to get access to Gaza, the international organizations said that it hampers allowing an independent investigations in the competing claims.

“The victims’ and the public’s right to know about what happened during the hostilities requires the Israeli authorities to ensure full transparency about their actions and to refrain from hindering independent and impartial research into all alleged violations,” FitzGerald said.

The rights group also added that Israel should welcome inquire in its challenging claims that Hamas has killed civilians in Gaza.

“If Israel is confident in its claim that Hamas is responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza, why is it blocking human rights organizations from carrying out on-site investigations,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW, said in the news release.

“Talking points by a party to the conflict don’t determine whether attacks violated the laws of war, but field investigations could.”

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council has named members of the international commission that will investigate war crimes committed by Israel during aggression against Gaza.

No exceptions

Although journalists, United Nations staff, and others have been granted access to Gaza via Erez crossing since the start of the conflict last July, Amnesty was denied entry by the border administration.

“The policy is that only nongovernmental organizations known by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not only known but registered there, will be approved,” said Major Guy Inbar, spokesman for the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

“Human Rights Watch and Amnesty are not known, therefore their request was denied.”

Amnesty Requests for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Social Affairs to get access through Erez crossing were repeatedly rejected.

“There are requirements for that process that we don’t think we can meet and we don’t think access to the Gaza Strip should be conditioned on that process,” Deborah Hyams, an Amnestry International researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said.

“Israel has an obligation to facilitate investigations.”

Israel has been launching relentless airstrikes against Gaza since July 8 where more than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured.

According to UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 80% of deaths in Gaza are civilians, including dozens of children and women.

Israel occupation forces started a ground invasion of besieged Gaza, home to two millions civilian, on Thursday, July 17.

According to the UN the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 10% of Gaza Population, 267,970 people, are sheltering in 90 UNRWA schools.

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