Amnesty accuses Israel of war crimes in Gaza

Palestinian children, who hospital officials said were wounded in an Israeli air strike, receive treatment at a hospital in Gaza City in August.

Palestinian children, who hospital officials said were wounded in an Israeli air strike, receive treatment at a hospital in Gaza City in August.

The Israeli military’s destruction of civilian buildings during its Protective Edge offensive this summer amounts to war crimes and must be investigated, human rights monitor Amnesty International said on Tuesday, according to Agence France Presse.

“All the evidence we have shows this large-scale destruction was carried out deliberately and with no military justification,” Philip Luther, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program, said.

“Both the facts on the ground and statements made by Israeli military spokespeople at the time indicate that the attacks were a collective punishment against the people of Gaza and were designed to destroy their already precarious livelihoods.”

“War crimes must be independently and impartially investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice in fair trials.”

The destruction of four multi-story buildings during the last four days of the 50-day operation this summer were in breach of international humanitarian law, the group said.

One of the landmark buildings destroyed was the Municipal Commercial Centre in Rafah, which contained a shopping mall, a medical clinic and offices, and provided livelihoods for hundreds of families, the group said.

There was no immediate reaction to the Amnesty statement from Israeli authorities.

Amnesty International said that Israeli authorities had said that one building housed a command center of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, and that another had “facilities linked to Palestinian militants.”

However, the military had an obligation to use methods that minimized harm to civilians and their property, and had previously targeted specific apartments without destroying entire buildings, it added.

Amnesty International added that residents of the buildings were warned to leave by the Israeli military, but that they did not have time to salvage important belongings.

The group called for it and other rights groups to be allowed access to Gaza and for a United Nations inquiry into the war to be allowed to investigate.

 
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