Amnesty says Gaza groups committed war crimes

NGO cites indiscriminate fire and use of civilians for cover during fighting; Israel was charged with crimes in previous report

Amnesty02The human rights group Amnesty International said in a report Thursday that armed Palestinian organizations committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza-Israel conflict, by killing both Israeli and Palestinian civilians using indiscriminate projectiles.

The report comes after two other reports issued in late 2014 that accused Israel of war crimes for attacks on multistory civilian buildings and attacks on Palestinian residential homes during the war.

The 50-day Gaza war left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, around half of whom Israel says were fighters; Israel blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities since it emplaced its war machine in residential areas. Hamas officials in Gaza claim most were civilians. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed.

Palestinian operatives, including the armed wing of Hamas, launched unguided rockets and mortars which cannot be aimed at a specific target and are a breach of international law, the human rights group said.

Six civilians in Israel were killed in such attacks, and 13 Palestinian civilians were killed when a Palestinian projectile launched from the Gaza Strip apparently landed in a Gaza refugee camp.

Palestinians have claimed that the Israeli military was responsible for that attack, but Amnesty International said an independent munitions expert examining the evidence on the group’s behalf concluded that a Palestinian rocket was responsible.


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In footage captured by al-Mayadeen, apparently during the current truce, Hamas Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades fighters are seen preparing rockets to launch against Israel in a tunnel underneath the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (screen capture, YouTube)

The report also alleged other international humanitarian law violations during the conflict, including Palestinian terror groups’ storing munitions in civilian buildings and United Nations schools, and launching attacks near locations where hundreds of displaced civilians were taking shelter.

“The devastating impact of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians during the conflict is undeniable, but violations by one side in a conflict can never justify violations by their opponents,” said Philip Luther of Amnesty International.

Luther called on both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to cooperate with UN and International Criminal Court probes “to end decades of impunity that have perpetuated a cycle of violations in which civilians on both sides have paid a heavy price.”

Hamas officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Monday the European Union joined Palestinian and Arab delegations in asking Israel to allow a United Nations human rights investigator access to the Gaza Strip.

Israel has declined to allow the investigator, Makarim Wibisono, into Gaza, and Wibisono presented an initial report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva based on interviews with people in Jordan and Egypt, as well as individuals communicating via video call from Gaza. His report calls on Israel to investigate the killing of what it says were more than 1,500 Palestinian civilians, one-third of them children, during the war.

Hamas, an Islamist terror group committed to destroying Israel, seized control of Gaza in a violent 2007 takeover from Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

THIS ARTICLE BROGHT TO YOU FROM: JTA and Times of Israel staff.

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