Palestinians urge ICC probe into Gaza child killings by Israel
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) yesterday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an investigation into an Israeli airstrike that killed three children in the Gaza Strip. "The international community and its institutions must break their silence towards the incessant crimes committed by the occupation army," the PLO said in a statement.
Three children aged between 12 and 14 were martyred late Sunday in the Israeli raid near the eastern border of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army claimed that "the children were trying to tamper with the security fence and apparently planted an explosive device." The PLO accused the Israeli army of "deliberately killing" the three children. "The ICC is requested to launch an immediate investigation into this crime," it added.
For the last seven months, Palestinians in Gaza have been staging regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to demand the right to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948. They also demand an end to Israel's 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its 2 million inhabitants of many basic commodities. Since the rallies began on March 30, more than 200 Palestinians were killed, and thousands more injured, by Israeli troops deployed along the other side of the buffer zone.
Israel has been criticized by a U.N. human rights body for its killing of protesters in Gaza and treatment of the Palestinians, declaring it as a "war crime" under the Statute of Rome. The high casualty toll triggered a diplomatic backlash against Israel and new charges of excessive use of force against unarmed protesters. The Israeli army has killed 25 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2018, a human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) said earlier this month. In a press release in August, Defense for Children International-Palestine, which advocates for the rights of Palestinian children in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, held the Israeli army responsible for the death of 25 children, 21 of those deaths in the Gaza Strip took place this year alone. It went on to assert that Israeli forces had deliberately killed minors with live ammunition. According to the NGO, this death toll includes 21 children targeted directly, 11 of whom were shot in the head or neck.
Rights groups have branded open-fire orders as unlawful, saying they effectively permit soldiers to use potentially lethal force against unarmed protesters. In the face of growing criticism over Gaza border violence, the Israeli authorities earlier said that human rights laws do not apply to ongoing Palestinian protests along the Gaza Strip. According to the U.N., during the border protests, over 1,000 children have been injured by Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip during demonstrations, according to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF). The U.N. body pointed out that some injuries had been severe and potentially life altering, including amputations.