SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A leading international rights group on Thursday said that Israel committed war crimes during this summer’s Gaza war, saying it reached that conclusion after investigating three attacks on or near United Nations-run schools housing displaced Palestinians.
Human Rights Watch said it investigated the strikes at the schools in three separate locations in the devastated Gaza Strip, attacks in which more than 45 people were killed. Based on field research and interviews with witnesses, the US based rights organisation said no military targets were apparent in the area of the schools and that some attacks were indiscriminate.
“The Israeli military carried out attacks on or near three well-marked schools where it knew hundreds of people were taking shelter, killing and wounding scores of civilians,” Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Israel has offered no convincing explanation for these attacks on schools where people had gone for protection and the resulting carnage.”
The brutal Gaza war left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, the majority of them civilians, according to Palestinian and UN officials. Israel says the number of militants killed was much higher and accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed. About a quarter of a million Palestinians displaced by the violence were seeking shelter in UN-run schools.
On a strike on July 30, the Israeli military said it was responding to Hamas fire from nearby. Human Rights Watch said Israel provided no evidence for the claim. “In any event, the use of high explosive heavy artillery shells so near a shelter filled with civilians constitutes an indiscriminate attack,” the group said. HRW said another attack in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was “unlawfully disproportionate.”
The attacks on the schools brought international condemnation, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling one a “moral outrage and a criminal act.” Western backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to seek membership in the International Criminal Court in order to press charges against Israel.
Source: The Globe and Mail