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Monday, April 12, 2021

Israel committed war crimes in Gaza, Amnesty International finds

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Israeli bombs killed entire Palestinian families in their homes without warning or military purpose, which would constitute war crimes.

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A damning Amnesty report, Families Under Rubble, says, “Israeli forces killed scores of Palestinian civilians in attacks targeting houses full of people, which in some cases have amounted to war crimes.” It accuses Israel of “callous indifference” towards the lives of civilians, adding that the country’s military may be guilty of war crimes.

Amnesty has detailed eight instances in which people’s homes were attacked with large aerial bombs without warning, resulting in the deaths of at least 104 civilians, including 62 children. It gives numerous accounts of eyewitnesses who describe the horror of sifting through the rubble of their destroyed homes for loved ones. One survivor describes holding a bag full of the “shreds” of her son’s body.

Philip Luther, director of AI’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, said, “Israeli forces have brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused.”

 “The repeated, disproportionate attacks on homes indicate that Israel’s current military tactics are deeply flawed and fundamentally at odds with the principles of international humanitarian law. What is crucial now is that there is accountability for any violations of international humanitarian law that have been committed. The Israeli authorities must provide answers,” he said.

Luther called for the UN Security Council to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court (ICC) so that the prosecutor could investigate allegations of crimes under international law by all parties. But both organisations are subject to US dictates and bullying. Washington has traditionally vetoed all resolutions in the Security Council hostile to Israel, while last Thursday the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she would not be taking action over Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010 that killed ten Turkish activists. She said that despite “reasonable basis” that war crimes had been committed, the ICC had to prioritise larger-scale events.

“I have concluded that the potential case(s) likely arising from an investigation into this incident would not be of ‘sufficient gravity’ to justify further action by the ICC,” she said.

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