Gaza destruction was wanton: Amnesty Intl
Amnesty International said on Thursday Israel inflicted “wanton destruction” in the Gaza Strip in attacks that often targeted Palestinian civilians during an offensive in December and January in the Hamas-run enclave.world Updated: Jul 03, 2009 15:11 IST
Amnesty International said on Thursday Israel inflicted “wanton destruction” in the Gaza Strip in attacks that often targeted Palestinian civilians during an offensive in December and January in the Hamas-run enclave.
The London-based rights group, in a 117-page report on the 22 days of fighting, also criticised the Islamist movement Hamas for rocket attacks on Israel, which it called “war crimes”.
Among other conclusions, Amnesty said it found no evidence to support Israeli claims that Gaza guerrillas deliberately used civilians as “human shields”, but it did, however, cite evidence that Israeli troops put children and other civilians in harm’s way by forcing them to remain in homes taken over by soldiers.
Amnesty International said some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, including 300 children and hundreds of innocent civilians, a figure broadly in line with those from the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza and the independent Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
The Israeli military put the Palestinian death toll at 1,166 of whom 295 were civilians. Thirteen Israelis were killed, including three civilians, during the offensive Israel launched with the declared aim of curtailing cross-border rocket attacks.
Accusing Israel of “breaching laws of war”, Amnesty said: “Much of the destruction was wanton and deliberate, and was carried out in a manner and circumstances which indicated that it could not be justified on grounds of military necessity.”
Tel Aviv denial
Commenting on Amnesty’s allegations, the Israeli military said it operated in accordance with international law. It said the report ignored “efforts made by the Israel Defence Forces to minimise, as much as possible, harm to non-combatants”.
“In many cases, the Israel Defence Forces exercised measures of caution, including warning the civilian population before an attack,” the military said. “The Israel Defence Forces directed its attack only against military targets.”
A Hamas spokesman said the Amnesty report did not place enough emphasis on “crimes committed by Israel”.
“This report equates between the aggressor and the victim and ignores international laws that guarantee resistance against occupation,” the spokesman said.
Israel and Hamas have both rejected accusations of war crimes during the Gaza fighting. Israel has refused to cooperate with a United Nations inquiry that is now gathering evidence, accusing the investigators of prejudice against it.