Israel–Gaza Crisis: Understanding the War Crimes Debate

Dr. G. Balachandran was a Consulting Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • March 2015

    The long conflict between Israel and Palestine took a turn for the worse after the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014. The three teens—Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah—disappeared while in the West Bank, leading Israel to conduct a massive manhunt in the Palestinian territory, alleging that they were abducted by members of Hamas (a Sunni Islamist group in Palestine, recognised by many countries as a terrorist organisation).1 On July 2, 2014, a 16-year-old Palestinian named Muhammed Abu Khdeir was found dead in Jerusalem, leading to reports claiming that it was a revenge killing by Jewish extremists for the murders of the three Israeli boys.2 These events led to Israel launching ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in the Gaza Strip, which is primarily controlled by Hamas. Since the beginning of the operation on July 8, according to reports, 5,226 air strikes took place in Gaza and 4,591 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel. According to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), it attacked 5,263 targets across the Gaza Strip, hitting terror infrastructure, namely rocket launching sites, arms and munitions factories and warehouses, as well as the homes and offices of Hamas and its local regime. Over 34 known tunnels were also destroyed.3