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New Report: Hamas, Israel Both Committed War Crimes During and After Oct. 7 Attack

The only way to end the recurring cycle of violence against both sides is through 'strict adherence to international law'

New Report: Hamas, Israel Both Committed War Crimes During and After Oct. 7 Attack

A new report analyzing the events surrounding the October 7 attacks on Israel has determined that both Palestinian armed groups and Israeli authorities committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Released on June 12, the report, which was issued by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, offers a comprehensive legal analysis of the conflict, along with recommendations for ending the hostilities and advancing peace efforts.

During its investigation, the commission sought information and access from both the Israeli government and Palestinian representatives. “The State of Palestine provided extensive comments. No response was received from Israel,” the report states.

To reach its conclusions, the commission conducted interviews with victims and witnesses and reviewed various sources of information, including (but not limited to) open-source data, forensic examinations, visual media authentication, and geolocation analysis.

Hamas and Palestinian Militant Group Actions

The report asserts that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups abducted hostages and brought them to Gaza to use them in negotiations with Israeli authorities.

The report further claims that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups abducted hostages and brought them to Gaza to use as leverage in negotiations with Israeli authorities. According to the commission, militants "deliberately killed, injured, mistreated, took hostages, and committed sexual and gender-based violence" against civilians, including Israeli citizens, foreign nationals, and members of the Israeli Security Forces (ISF). These actions, the report states, constitute war crimes and violations of international humanitarian [IHL] and human rights laws [IHRL].

The commission highlights that civilians were intentionally targeted in a premeditated attack orchestrated by Hamas and carried out by six other Palestinian groups, with some civilian participation.

It finds the targeting and abduction of Israeli children “particularly egregious,” noting that many children were subjected to physical and emotional abuse, witnessed the killing of their parents and siblings, and were filmed by Palestinian armed groups for propaganda purposes.

The report also details that Hamas and Palestinian armed groups targeted women, including by willful killings, abductions, as well as physical, mental and sexual abuse.

These crimes were deliberate and, in several cases, enforced with violence, intentionally causing great suffering and serious injury to the victims. The commission found that women were subjected to gender-based violence during their execution or abduction.

However, the report notes that there was no evidence indicating that militants received orders to commit sexual violence.

Israeli Actions

“The Commission notes that Israeli authorities failed to protect civilians in southern Israel on almost every front,” including “failing to swiftly deploy sufficient security forces to protect civilians and evacuate them from civilian locations” on Oct. 7.

On the day of the attack, Israeli authorities invoked the controversial "Hannibal Directive," which allows the military to prevent the capture of Israeli citizens by enemy forces, even if it means killing those citizens. The investigation revealed that this protocol was employed on at least three occasions.

An Israeli tank crew confirmed they applied the Hannibal Directive by firing on a vehicle suspected of transporting abducted ISF soldiers. In two other incidents, the directive led to the death of a woman being abducted and multiple civilian hostages inside a house.

The report also states that Israeli soldiers have engaged in ongoing sexual violence against Palestinians since Oct. 7 as a form of retaliation for the attack.

The commission says “the immense numbers of civilian casualties and widespread destruction of civilian objects and crucial civilian infrastructure are the inevitable results of Israel’s chosen strategy for the use of force during these hostilities, undertaken with intent to cause maximum damage, disregarding distinction, proportionality and adequate precautions, and thus unlawful.”

According to the report, the ISF’s “intentional use of heavy weapons with large destructive capacity in densely populated areas constitutes an intentional and direct attack on the civilian population, particularly affecting women and children.” The commission said that conclusion was reached by “the substantial and increasing numbers of casualties, over weeks and months, with no change in Israeli policies or military strategies.”

The report also addressees evacuation orders issued by the ISF, stating they were often “insufficient, unclear and conflicting, and did not provide adequate time or support for safe evacuations,” also noting that Palestinians who complied with evacuation orders were “targeted along the evacuation routes and in designated safe zones.”

Though Israeli officials present “their military objectives as destroying all of Hamas, releasing Israeli hostages and preventing future threats to the State of Israel emanating from the Gaza Strip,” the report says “their actions and the consequences of their actions indicate other motivations including, vengeance and collective punishment.”

The commission also finds that Israel using starvation as a weapon is a war crime, along with the “siege” Israel has imposed by “cutting off supplies of water, food, electricity, fuel and other essential supplies, including humanitarian assistance. This constitutes collective punishment and reprisal against the civilian population, both of which are clear violations of IHL.”


The commission says that the individuals who bear the most responsibility for the international crimes and abuses that were investigated include “senior members of the political and military leadership of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups and of the Palestinian Joint Operations Room; senior members of the political and military leadership of the Israeli State, including members of the War Management Cabinet and the Ministerial Committee on National Security, other Ministers of the Government and leaders of the ISF.”

The report calls on the Palestinian side to unconditionally release all remaining hostages, cease the firing of rockets, mortars and munitions into Israel, prosecute violations of international law committed by members of Hamas and other militant groups, and to avoid using civilian infrastructure for military purposes.

Among a number of other recommendations, the commission says the Israeli government should immediately halt attacks resulting in the killing and maiming of civilians in Gaza, ensure reparations to those whose property has been unlawfully destroyed, prosecute and punish anyone who has violated IHL and IHRL, and ensure dispossessed Palestinians are allowed to safely return to their homes.

“The Commission affirms that both the 7 October attack in Israel and Israel’s subsequent military operation in Gaza should not be seen in isolation. The only way to stop the recurring cycles of violence, including aggression and retribution by both sides, is to ensure strict adherence to international law,” the report says.

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