Amnesty: Israel violated laws of war in Gaza

May 28th, 2009 | Posted in Palestine
    Ma’an News Agency. May 28th, 2009.

    Photo: Israeli bomb exploding over the Gaza, Strip.

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel repeatedly violated the laws of war during its assault on Gaza last winter, a new report from Amnesty International charges.

“Israeli forces repeatedly breached the laws of war, including by carrying out direct attacks on civilians and civilian buildings and attacks targeting Palestinian militants that caused a disproportionate toll among civilians,” the group said in its annual report on the state of human rights worldwide.

The report comes less than a week before a UN fact-finding mission arrives in Israel and Gaza to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report notes, however, Israel’s stated rationale for the war, which was to stop Palestinian armed groups from launching “rockets,” actually home-made projectiles fashioned from sewer pipes, from Gaza.

“In 2008, seven Israeli civilians were killed by these mostly homemade, indiscriminate rockets or in other attacks by Palestinians from Gaza; three Israeli civilians were killed during the three-week conflict that began on 27 December.”

By its count, “1,400 Palestinians were killed” in the three week Israeli bombardment, “including some 300 children, and some 5,000 were wounded.”

Amnesty also said, “The sudden conflict followed an 18-month period in which the Israeli army had subjected the inhabitants of Gaza to an unremitting blockade, preventing virtually all movement of people and goods in and out of the territory and stoking a growing humanitarian catastrophe.”

In the words of one Palestinian man who spoke to Amnesty’s investigators when they visited Gaza in January, “What should we do? If we rebuild they may destroy it again. And there is no cement in Gaza, no building materials to be had.”

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