Human Rights Watch: Israel’s Recent Attacks on Gaza Constitute War Crimes


If you’re not an expert on International Law but if Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza looked like war crimes to you, your questions have now been answered.

War crimes: this is what Human Rights Watch has concluded in its recent report.

Before we proceed, I’d like to clarify that ‘war crimes’ is not an accusatory or shaming concept that one can – or should – be throwing around.

I talk about it in my podcast episode on Gaza: the questions we have to ask regarding Israel’s conduct, even if we accept that the occupier is defending itself from the people it is occupying.

Just like International Law is real, war crimes are real in that we have an actual definition for them. This is exactly what HRW was using when investigating what has been happening in Gaza and Israel in May.

In their report, HRW remind us of International Law principles that guide conflicts:

“Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects are prohibited. The laws of war also prohibit indiscriminate attacks, which include attacks that do not distinguish between civilians and military targets or do not target a military objective. Attacks in which the expected harm to civilians and civilian property is disproportionate to the anticipated military gain are also prohibited.

Individuals who commit serious violations of the laws of war with criminal intent – that is, deliberately or recklessly– are responsible for war crimes.”⁣


I highly encourage you to read this article and watch the video that HRW has produced. It’s not an easy video to watch, but, in the end, it’s not about our discomfort, is it?

It’s about identifying what happened in Gaza and pointing to the large scale injustice and suffering that it all has caused.

It’s about making the people of Gaza just a bit more seen.

It’s about turning the people of Gaza from – a concept that award-wining journalist John Pilger likes to use – unpeople to people.

(This is what a recent photo piece by The Guardian on the traumatised children of Gaza tries to do, excruciatingly beautifully.)

If you’re still unsure you’d like to speak out against a crippling 14-year-old siege on Gaza, against bombings of civilian infrastructure, and wiping of entire families out, I encourage you to do so.

Because speaking out against war crimes – on both sides! – shouldn’t be difficult.


And, especially when we talk about Palestine, it is very much needed.

Latest from the Blog

What Good Happened in 2022?

To ask what good happened in any year might sound like a controversial question. Yet we have to train ourselves to notice – and to celebrate – the victories for human rights throughout the world. This is what I do in my episode as look at 2022 and identify what good happened in the UK/Palestine,…

How to Make Sense of What Happened in Brazil on January 8?

On January 8, 2023, Brazil suffered yet another form of attack on democracy. What was it exactly? How does it compare to the January 6 insurrection in the US? And how is the country moving forward with president Lula ahead?

Bombs Don’t Liberate

Both mainstream media and state-owned media have their agendas. Can we educate ourselves to notice them or do we continue attributing concepts like “propaganda” to “the other” and words like “liberation” to what our governments are doing?

How Do You Construct Your Own Political Education?

When it comes to your political education, how do you decide what sources to trust? What are your criteria to choose what you consume and what source to give more importance to? In my episode, I present my own criteria but, more importantly, encourage you to define your own.

Shireen Abu Akleh: No Justice, Just Impunity

Yet the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is yet another reminder that Israel operates with complete impunity. As the months are passing, we can see no meaningful external investigation is taking place.

Is Your Country Slipping Into Authoritarianism?

How does a county fall from the podium of democracy? And is it always a sudden fall? When it’s not something sudden and obvious, like a military coup, but a gradual process, it can be more difficult to spot, point a finger to, and name. So what does it entail?

Don’t miss an update! Follow The Exploding Head

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: