Strong recommendations on limiting the use of explosive weapons in populated areas were included in the report of the Commission of Inquiry established by the UN Human Rights Council in relation to the 2014 conflict in Gaza, released today.
The report, dated 15 June 2015, also includes a dedicated section on “use of artillery and other explosive weapons in built up areas”, detailing the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in urban areas of the Gaza Strip that form the basis of its recommendations.
In the report, the commission calls on the international community: “to accelerate and intensify efforts to develop legal and policy standards that would limit the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas with a view to strengthening the protection of civilians during hostilities.”
It further calls upon the Government of Israel: “to conduct a thorough, transparent, objective and credible review of policies governing military operations and of law enforcement activities in the context of the occupation, as defined by political and military decision-makers, to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, specifically with regard to…the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in densely populated areas, including in the vicinity of specifically protected objects” along with other matters of concern.
These recommendations reflect the growing engagement amongst UN and other human rights and humanitarian actors with the ongoing Austrian-led effort to develop an international commitment on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All states should support the development of such an international commitment and work constructively towards it.
Download the full report
Earlier this year, the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence released ‘This is how we fought in Gaza‘. This collection of Israeli soldiers’ testimonies on 2014’s Operation Protective Edge contains vivid descriptions of the short- and long-term harm caused by the heavy use of explosive weapons in urban areas, and the context of the use of these tactics in Gaza.