HRW Accuses Israel of ‘Apparent War Crimes’ in Gaza Assault, Urges International Probe
TEHRAN (FNA)- Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Israeli military of carrying out attacks that “apparently amount to war crimes” during the recent offensive on the Gaza Strip.
The international human rights organisation issued its conclusions on Tuesday after investigating three Israeli raids that it said killed 62 Palestinian civilians. It concluded that “there were no evident military targets in the vicinity” of the attacks.
The report also accused Palestinian groups of apparent war crimes by launching more than 4,000 rockets and mortars. But, it focused on Israeli actions during the fighting, and the group announced it would issue a separate report on the actions of Hamas and other resistance groups in August.
“Israeli forces carried out attacks in Gaza in May that devastated entire families without any apparent military target nearby,” stated Gerry Simpson, associated crisis and conflict director at HRW on the organisation’s website.
There was no immediate reaction to the report by the Israeli military, which has repeatedly claimed its attacks were aimed at military targets in Gaza.
Hamas fired thousands of rockets towards the occupied territories after the Tel Aviv regime ignored an ultimatum demanding Israel stand down its security forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after days of violence against Palestinian protesters.
Israeli security forces had been violently suppressing demonstrations against Israel’s raids and attacks on worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and the threatened expulsion of dozens of Palestinian families in favour of Jewish settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.
According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, some 260 people were killed in Gaza, including at least 67 children and 39 women.
The HRW reported that the most serious Israeli air raid, on May 16, involved a series of attacks on Al-Wahda Street, a Central thoroughfare in Gaza City. The raids destroyed three apartment buildings and killed a total of 44 civilians, HRW said, including 18 children and 14 women. Twenty-two of the dead were members of a single family, the Al-Kawlaks.
Israel had claimed the attacks were aimed at tunnels used by Hamas fighters in the area and suggested the damage to the homes was unintentional.
In its investigation, HRW concluded that Israel had used US-made GBU-31 precision-guided bombs and had not warned any of the residents to evacuate the area ahead of time. It also it found no evidence of military targets in the area.
“An attack that is not directed at a specific military objective is unlawful,” it wrote.
The investigation also looked at a May 10 explosion that killed eight people, including six children, near the Northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. It reorted the two adults were civilians.
Israel had claimed the explosion was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket. But based on an analysis of munition remnants and witness accounts, HRW stated evidence indicated the weapon had been “a type of guided missile”.
“Human Rights Watch found no evidence of a military target at or near the site of the strike,” it added.
The third attack it investigated occurred on May 15, in which an Israeli air raid destroyed a three-storey building in Gaza’s Shati refugee camp. The attack killed 10 people, two women and eight children.
HRW investigators determined the building was hit by a US-made guided missile.
Israel had claimed that senior Hamas officials were hiding in the building but HRW announced it found no evidence of a military target at or near the site and called for an investigation into whether there was a legitimate military objective and “all feasible precautions” were taken to avoid civilian casualties.
Early this year, HRW accused Israel of being guilty of international crimes of apartheid and persecution because of discriminatory policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Tel Aviv regime rejected the accusations.
It called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include the recent Gaza assault in its ongoing investigation into possible war crimes by Israel. The Tel Aviv regime does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction and announced it is capable of investigating any potential wrongdoing by its army and that the ICC probe is unfair and politically motivated.