Gaza, HRW: Israeli army and Hamas 'suspected war crimes'
Three air raids by the Israeli air force and 4,300 rockets launched towards southern Israel from the Strip, are under investigation. For the NGO there is no evidence of strategic military objectives in the area of the attacks. For the Israeli army these are "inferences already denied" in the past. The Islamic extremist movement says it did not "target civilians".
Gaza (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Israeli army and the Islamic extremist movement Hamas, which controls the Strip, have committed "suspected war crimes" in the flash conflict of last May, which caused hundreds of casualties and increased the desperation of a people already living in an open-air prison.
This is the charge contained in a report published in recent weeks by the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), which investigated three air strikes by the air force with the Star of David and the launch of more than 4,300 rockets from the Strip in Israeli territory, also carrying out "illegal attacks".
The Israeli military has always claimed to have hit military targets in Gaza. In fact, Hrw's investigation shows that three air raids - on May 10 in Beit Hanoun, on the 15th in al-Shati camp and on the 16th on al-Wahda Street - in which 62 civilians died, there would have been no evidence of strategic military targets in the surrounding area.
In the war that took place in the Strip between May 10 and 21 between Israel and Hamas (and Islamic Jihad) 264 Palestinians died, including 67 children, and 13 people in Israel, including a soldier, a child and a teenager. According to the UN, at least 129 victims in Gaza were civilians, while for the Israelis over 200 were militiamen. Hamas has always admitted the death of 80 fighters.
Emphasizing that "there was no evidence of military targets in the vicinity" of the three sites, the report prepared by HRW recalls that "an attack not directed towards a specific military target" is to be considered "unlawful". Hence the invitation to the parties to take all necessary measures to minimize deaths and injuries among the civilian population, providing also "effective" advance warnings.
Commenting on the report, a spokesman for the Israeli army rejects the accusations stating that the air raids of the air force in Gaza have hit "exclusively military targets" and that all measures have been taken "to reduce the damage to uninvolved people" including "early warning".
A military source questioned by the Jerusalem Post adds that "Hamas deliberately places military assets in areas densely populated by civilians." Moreover, the report of Hrw also in this case would have "recycled allegations already denied" in the past.
On the Palestinian side, the international NGO stresses that militiamen have violated the "prohibition of deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians" by launching unguided rockets towards Israeli towns and villages. A separate and ad hoc report on Hamas rocket attacks towards southern Israel will be published next month. Immediate response from the extremist group that controls the Strip, which says it has "tried to avoid targeting civilians, despite the massacres committed by the Israeli occupation forces."