Amnesty urges ICC probe into Israel-Gaza Strip conflict war crimes

Amnesty International has reported that war crimes may have been committed during the recent conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip last month. The human rights organisation found that Israeli forces carried out seemingly disproportionate air strikes, resulting in the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Additionally, the report states that indiscriminate rocket fire by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) killed both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Amnesty International is urging the International Criminal Court to investigate these incidents.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) maintain that they acted in accordance with international law and made efforts to minimise civilian harm. A PIJ spokesperson welcomed the report. The conflict, which began on May 9, resulted in the deaths of 34 Palestinians and one Israeli before concluding with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire five days later.

Amnesty International asserts that the use of precision-guided bombs in densely-populated areas while families were sleeping indicates that those responsible for planning and authorising the attacks likely anticipated and disregarded the disproportionate harm to civilians. The organisation warns that intentionally launching such attacks constitutes a war crime.

During the conflict, the IDF claimed to have struck over 400 military targets belonging to PIJ, killing three other senior commanders of its military wing. Amnesty International investigated nine strikes, including those targeting the three PIJ commanders in their homes. The IDF stated that it made numerous efforts to minimise harm to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, including delaying and cancelling planned attacks when civilians were unexpectedly present.

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Amnesty International also identified a pattern of extensive property destruction in Gaza as a result of Israeli strikes, which failed to meet the exceptions for justifying attacks on homes and other civilian objects. The organisation cited the targeting of a four-storey building in the Jabaliya refugee camp, home to 42 members of the extended Nabhan family. Amnesty found no evidence that the building was used for storing weapons or other military equipment or that rockets had been launched 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,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty’s Middle East director. “More frightening than any of this is the near certainty that, unless perpetrators are held to account, these horrifying scenes will be repeated.”

The IDF claims that the PIJ places its operational centres in civilian residential buildings and uses the civilian population as human shields. They also assert that they ensured buildings were evacuated of civilians prior to strikes through various means, such as phone calls and ‘roof-knocking’ procedures.

In response to the Israeli strikes, the PIJ fired over 1,400 rockets towards Israel, forcing tens of thousands of civilians to seek shelter in bomb shelters. The IDF reports that 1,139 rockets entered Israeli territory, with about 430 heading for populated areas intercepted by their missile defence systems. Rocket attacks in Rehovot and Shokeda killed an Israeli woman and a Palestinian labourer from Gaza, respectively. Amnesty states that rockets falling short in Gaza also appear to have killed three Palestinian civilians, including two children.

“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,” said Morayef.

PIJ spokesman Tariq Salmi did not comment on the allegation but stated that Amnesty’s report “proves that the occupation [Israel] was the one that began the aggression by committing grave crimes.” He added, “The enemy uses the weapons it has to kill Palestinian civilians, and we are doing our part to defend ourselves against the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.”

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Lilly Larkin

Lilly is a writer with a diverse international background, having lived in various countries including Thailand. Her unique experiences provide valuable insights and culturally sensitive perspectives in her news reporting. When not writing, Lilly enjoys exploring local art scenes, volunteering for community projects, and connecting with people from different cultures.

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