Identifying the dead in Gaza – remarks to the Commission of Inquiry at HRC56

ECC submitted the following intervention for the dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel, on 19 June 2024:

Every Casualty Worldwide deeply regrets the immense loss of life in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel since 7 October 2023. We call on all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire.

We encourage the Commission of Inquiry to support efforts by independent civil society actors to comprehensively verify, identify and document the dead. The scale of destruction in Gaza, the ongoing violence, and restrictions on access make this task exceptionally difficult. However, when the dead are not documented promptly there is a greatly increased risk that they will become permanently unidentified and unidentifiable. This condemns the bereaved to a lifetime of anguish, a level of suffering which has been recognised as reaching the definition of torture.

All parties to the conflict have an obligation under international humanitarian law to search for, identify, and document the dead, and to dispose of their remains in a dignified and culturally appropriate manner. States and other duty bearers also have an obligation in international human rights law to investigate and document any potentially unlawful death, including any death caused by state agents.

We would like to ask the Commission what assessment it has made of efforts by the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to comply with these obligations. What more could be done by each of these actors to ensure that all fatalities are promptly identified and recorded? Finally, how can the international community best support these efforts?

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