According to Amnesty International, war crimes may have been perpetrated during last month’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, between Israel and Palestinian fighters. A report by the human rights organization revealed that, Israeli forces carried out seemingly several airstrikes that resulted in the deaths of Palestinian civilians.
It further claimed that, both Israeli and Palestinian civilians were murdered by reckless rocket launch from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Amnesty International has therefore requested an investigation from the International Criminal Court.
PIJ’s representative stated that, the organization welcomed the report, but the Israel Defense Forces on the other hand, has not responded to the allegations. The most recent cross-border combat, which commenced on May 9 and ended five days later with a truce mediated by Egypt, claimed the lives of 34 Palestinians and one Israeli.
It all started when Israeli jets attacked civilian targets throughout the night, killing 10 people, including families and relatives, as well as three high-ranking members of the PIJ, who were inside their homes.
According to Amnesty International, the use of precision-guided missiles during the hours when families were asleep, in heavily populated areas indicates that, those who planned and authorized the operations were aware of the enormous damage that would be caused to civilians. It stated that “intentionally launching disproportionate attacks, is a war crime.”
However, the IDF said that, during the battle that ensued, its planes killed three more senior commanders of the PIJ’s military wing, and bombed more than 400 PIJ military targets. The IDF attributed this to the firing of hundreds of rockets and mortars against Israel the previous week.
Moreover, Amnesty International said, it looked into nine attacks, including ones that hit the houses of the three PIJ officials. Amnesty also claimed it “identified a pattern of extensive destruction of property” in Gaza as a result of the Israeli strikes that “failed to meet the exceptions under which attacking homes and other civilian objects would be justified”.
The human right group also mentioned the May 13 shelling of a four-story structure in the Jabaliya refugee camp, that housed 42 members of the larger Nabhan family. Amnesty’s investigations revealed no proof that, the structure had been used to store weapons or other military arsenals or projectiles had been fired nearby.
“In our investigation, we heard vivid accounts of bombs obliterating homes, of fathers digging their little girls out from under rubble, of a teenager fatally injured as she lay in bed holding a teddy bear. More frightening than any of this is the near certainty that, unless perpetrators are held to account, these horrifying scenes will be repeated.”Amnesty’s Middle East Director, Heba Morayef.
Following the Israeli airstrikes, PIJ launched over 1,400 rockets at Israel, compelling thousands of people to seek refuge in bomb shelters. The IDF claims that 1,139 rockets entered Israeli territory in total, and its missile defence systems stopped around 430 of those, that were aimed at residential areas.
Additionally, rockets that were fired at an apartment building in Rehovot and a construction site in Shokeda, respectively resulted in the deaths of an Israeli woman and a Palestinian labourer from Gaza. According to Amnesty, three Palestinian civilians, including two children were killed by missiles that missed their targets in Gaza.
According to the report, the kids were killed after a rocket struck al-Sahaba street in Gaza City on the afternoon of May 10. At the time, PIJ disputed that, a rocket had hit the region, but witnesses later told an investigator that, members of the group removed rocket parts shortly after the incident occurred.
“Known for their inherent inaccuracy, rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups are indiscriminate. These attacks must be investigated as war crimes and victims be granted prompt and adequate redress,” Ms Morayef said.