The war lasted for 50 days. During the war, populations across the world expressed their concern and sentiment for all the destruction and human loss that languished the region.
The aftermaths of the war included a brutal winter without heat and electricity for the traumatized citizens of Gaza. Today, Gaza still remains in ruins. Almost a year later, the United Nations has finalized an inquiry of the war.
Many issues have presented themselves a year later. At the forefront of these issues lies a significant problem--no one is willing to take responsibility for the great destruction and devastation that marked the region last summer.
The UN's inquiry has outlined several instances of violations of international law and potential war crimes. Certainly, the inquiry has exposed faults in both Hamas and Israel's war tactics. Quite noticeably however, Israel faces more detailed accusations from the UN--though both sides face blame. In light of these criticisms, Netanyahu, Israeli officials, and Hamas all deny the UN's findings.
A Hamas senior official has stated that their rockets and mortars targeted Israeli military sites, not civilians. Netanyahu too has consistently brushed off the UN's report.
Netanyahu has called the inquiry "flawed and biased." Additionally, Netanyahu stated that the UN "has a singular obsession with Israel. " The prime minister also delivered the following statement: " [Israel] will continue to take strong and determined action against all those who try to attack us and our citizens, and we will do so in accordance with international law."
Netanyahu continuously claims that Israel has indeed not violated international law yet the UN's report reveals a severe contrast. Particularly, Israel's attacks on civilians and its warning method have received scrutiny from the UN.
Many of Israel's attacks targeted residential buildings where women and children were likely to be inside. As stated in the UN's inquiry: "many of the incidents took place in the evening or at dawn, when families gathered for iftar and suhhur, the Ramadan meals, or at night, when people were asleep. The timing of the attacks increased the likelihood that many people, often entire families, would be at home."
In terms of Israel's warning system, the UN emphasized that the "roof knocking" warning method gave an extremely limited amount of time for escape. Additionally, these civilians had no options in terms of fleeing towards safe areas.
These findings reveal that Israel did not in fact do everything in their power to prevent civilian casualties as Israeli officials have claimed on numerous occasions. The UN's numbers from the war report that 2,251 Palestinians were killed and 173 were killed on the Israeli side. Despite these findings and numbers, no one is taking responsibility. The classic blame game and strategy of denial have dominated both sides.
Meanwhile, criticism of the inquiry has taken place. The UN inquiry has been called biased and sympathetic towards Hamas. Additionally, the UN's report has been described as dangerous because it supposedly leaves Israel vulnerable to future attack.
Viewing the UN's report in this light is troublesome for two reasons. 1.) Violence is an effective propellant for more violence and continued conflict, not an inquiry that examines violations of international law. 2.) Without such an inquiry, wrongdoers would never be exposed nor held accountable.
One significant issue persists--too many are dismissing the UN report. Hamas sees the inquiry as another critique of only Israel while Israeli officials see the inquiry as another biased attack against Israel.
Arguably, the UN's latest inquiry is being severely misread. The report is about being critical of civilian casualties and violations of international law not about abandoning Israel and supporting Hamas.
Both sides must be held accountable in hopes of ending the vicious cycle of violence. Instead of condemning the inquiry and putting full blame on one side, the UN inquiry should be taken seriously as it aims to point out injustices in war.
Three things must be understood during this process. First, civilians paid the price for the war. This fact has been the greatest injustice. With this in mind, the inquiry cannot be dismissed nor condemned as it offers international order and a sense of justice, especially for those innocent that lost their lives. Second, criticism of Israel in these regards is not a means to abandon Israel. Certainly, an abandonment of Israel would thwart any future peace process. Criticism of Israel also does not dismiss any criticisms of Hamas. Attempts to put full blame on the other side should have no place. Finally, Hamas and Israel must examine their wrongdoings and own up to them. These findings should not fuel further aggression but should instead be used as a means of holding wrongdoers responsible. For the sake of world order and justice, responsibility and accountability cannot be meaningless concepts on whichever side. How else will the vicious cycle end?