As is the custom, memorial candles were lit this week for those slaughtered by Israel in Operation Cast Lead four years ago. An anniversary of mourning, not of joy.

4 Years Since Operation Cast Lead

Four years ago today, on 27th December 2008, Israeli Forces launched a large-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip, codenamed Operation Cast Lead. This 23-day long offensive was the most violent offensive since the beginning of Israeli occupation in 1967.


1167 Palestinian civilians, the so-called “protected persons” of International Humanitarian Law, were killed during this offensive, including 318 children and 111 women. Moreover, 5,300 Palestinians were wounded, of whom 1,600 were children. In addition, 2,114 houses (2,864 housing units) in the Gaza Strip were completely destroyed while 3,242 houses (5,014 housing units) were rendered uninhabitable, making approximately 50,000 Palestinians homeless. Public and private infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip was systematically targeted and destroyed.Numerous investigations and reports by national and international human rights organizations provided compelling evidence indicating the widespread and systematic violation of international law


Four years later the Gaza Strip remains subject to an illegal closure regime, making reconstruction and rehabilitation virtually impossible. The Gaza Strip has been stuck in a time warp, and its civilian population subject to collective punishment.


As confirmed by national and international human rights organizations and the UN Committee of Independent Experts established by the Human Rights Council, it is unambiguously clear that all parties have failed to conduct domestic investigations that are prompt, effective, independent, and in conformity with international law. Furthermore, all parties have failed to prosecute suspected perpetrators of crimes under international law. According to the UN Committee of Independent Experts’ report published on 18th March 2011, all parties’ investigations into alleged war crimes have comprehensively failed to meet the requirements of international standards.The Committee found that Israel failed to investigate high-level officials and cover all allegations. It is noted the only concrete result of these procedures have been a 7 month sentence for the theft of a credit card, a 45 day sentence in relation to the killing of two women carrying white flags, and two 3 month suspended sentences for the use of a Palestinian child as a human shield. 


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted 1,046 civil complaints(or “damage applications”) to the Compensation Officer in the Israeli Ministry of Defense ,and approximately 490 criminal complaints (on behalf of 1,046 affected individuals) requesting the opening of an investigation to the Israeli Military Prosecution. However, to date, only a handful of responses denoting the opening of an investigation, or simply acknowledging receipt of the complaint, have been received; media sources have reported that other complaints filed by PCHR have been closed, but this has not been officially communicated.


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) affirms that all victims’ legitimate right to an effective remedy must be respected. For too long, the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory has been characterised by systematic violations of international law, and pervasive impunity for these crimes. The result has been an escalating cycle of violence, and it is the civilian populations who have been forced to pay the horrific price.All efforts must be undertaken to ensure justice for all victims.


It is essential that the rule of law be restored, and that all suspected violations of international law be investigated, and those responsible held to account.




1.     Calls upon the State of Palestine to immediately sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to lodge a declaration with the Court’s Registrar under Article 11 (2) and 12 (3) of the Statute, accepting the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court from the date of entry into force of the Statute, 1 July 2002.

2.     Following the accession of Palestine to the Rome Statute, recommends that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court should initiate an investigation propriomotuin to alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity which are committed in Palestine in violation of the Statute, and request an authorization of the Pre-Trial Chamber to proceed with an investigation, pursuant to article 15 of the Statute.

3.     Calls upon the international community to support the efforts of the Palestinian people to seek justice for the violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law through use of the principle of universal jurisdiction.



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