HRW: Israel and Hamas committed ′war crimes′ | News | DW | 27.07.2021

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HRW: Israel and Hamas committed 'war crimes'

A report from the human rights watchdog has concluded that violence during the May Gaza conflict amounted to war crimes. The investigation focused on three Israeli airstrikes.

A Palestinian woman holding her son walks past her house that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in June. There is another boy say on a bit of debris. The building next door is also highly damaged.

HRW says both the Israeli military and the Islamist group Hamas that rules the Gaza strip probably committed war crimes during their latest war

Both the Israeli military and the Islamist group Hamas that rules the Gaza strip are suspected of having carried out war crimes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Tuesday.

"Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups carried out attacks during the May 2021 fighting in the Gaza Strip and Israel that violated the laws of war and apparently amount to war crimes," the rights group said.

The 11-day conflict left at least 254 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead. The violence broke out following the violent response from Israeli forces towards Palestinians protesting the eviction of families in east Jerusalem.

What were the details of the HRW report?

The HRW report focused on three cases of Israeli airstrikes while noting that the "indiscriminate" rocket attacks — over 4,000 — by Palestinian militants into Israel would be the subject of a later report.

The Israeli attacks included a strike in Beit Hanoun on May 10, one on the Al-Shati refugee camp on May 15, and a series of strikes on Gaza City on May 16, while adding that "other Israeli attacks during the conflict were also likely unlawful."

These three attacks "killed 62 Palestinian civilians where there were no evident military targets in the vicinity," the report stated.

The series of strikes on the Al-Wahda central street in Gaza City destroyed three apartment buildings and killed a total of 44 people, including 18 children. Half of the victims were from one family, HRW said.

International investigations into the Gaza conflict

The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court said in March that it was launching an investigation into the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. It will focus on the 2014 war in Gaza but will also investigate the treatment of Palestinian protesters from 2018.

"Israeli authorities' consistent unwillingness to seriously investigate alleged war crimes, as well as Palestinian forces' rocket attacks toward Israeli population centers, underscores the importance of the International Criminal Court's inquiry," HRW associated director Gerry Simpson said.

The UN Human Rights Council has also opened an investigation into violations during the May conflict.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) responded to a letter from HRW, saying that it was investigating instances to see whether "rules had been breached." But it also defended its actions, saying "where possible … [the IDF] provided civilians located within military targets with prior warning."

ab/rt (AFP, AP)