Adalah at US Congressional Briefing: Israeli investigations into Gaza War cases are illusory

Speakers urged US lawmakers to raise serious concerns about lack of accountability for human rights violations & war crimes by Israeli military in Gaza.


On 29 July 2015, Adalah participated in a US congressional briefing in Washington D.C., to mark one year since the 50-day war on Gaza in 2014 that claimed the lives of 2,220 Palestinians, about 70% of whom were civilians. Together with a coalition of human rights organizations and civil society partners, Adalah urged US lawmakers to raise serious concerns with Israel about the total lack of accountability for gross human rights violations and alleged war crimes by the Israeli military in Gaza.


The briefing on Capitol Hill drew around 70 attendees, including staff from at least 20 different congressional offices. Josh Ruebner, policy director at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, gave opening remarks. Eman Mohammed, a Gaza-based photojournalist, presented photographs taken during the war and provided a harrowing personal testimony of the injury of her child. Speakers from Adalah and Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) highlighted specific violations of international humanitarian law during the military offensive and discussed the failures of domestic Israeli investigatory mechanisms.


Brad Parker, international advocacy officer and attorney at DCIP, provided an overview of the 50-day military offensive and highlighted the high price paid by Palestinian children in Gaza. In a recently-released report “Operation Protective Edge: A War Waged on Children”, DCIP independently verified the deaths of 547 Palestinian children among the killed in Gaza, 535 of them as a direct result of Israeli attacks. Nearly 68 percent of the children killed by Israeli forces were 12 years old or younger. Parker said there has been no accountability for grave violations against Palestinian children.


Nadia Ben-Youssef, Adalah’s US representative, detailed the flaws in Israel’s domestic investigatory proceedings and the almost insurmountable obstacles faced by Palestinians from Gaza when trying to access Israeli courts in compensation cases against the Israeli military to seek redress. Providing the latest updates on complaints into 22 separate incidences submitted by Adalah together with Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza to the Israeli Military Advocate General, Adalah demonstrated the near impossibility of securing criminal accountability for Palestinian civilian victims through Israeli legal channels.


“Adalah’s continued engagement with Israel's domestic investigatory mechanisms in pursuit of accountability for victims has provided concrete evidence that any alleged improvements by Israel to its internal military investigations are illusory, and that the military continues to grant itself complete impunity for war crimes.”



The briefing closed with a from-the-ground update from Raed Jarrar of the American Friends Service Committee, who had just returned from Gaza. Jarrar emphasized the humanitarian disaster for the besieged population of Gaza one year after the war, and urged lawmakers to use existing US legislation, including the Leahy Law, to hold Israel accountable for the grave human rights abuses committed in Gaza.


The Capitol Hill meeting was sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and cosponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Just World Books, Middle East Children's Alliance, United Methodist Kairos Response, and the US Palestinian Community Network.