B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group have accused the IDF of war crimes during last year’s Gaza invasion.
They say that Israeli airstrikes had intentionally targeted residential areas, killing women and children, while claiming that Hamas was hiding behind civilians.
While prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague are conducting a preliminary inquiry into possible war crimes committed by Israel in the Palestinian territories, the 49-page report by B’Tselem human rights group claims that the allegations are true.
This, the first major report on the Israel-Gaza conflict written by an Israeli rights group is named ‘Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014’
The report is based on research into 70 Israeli airstrikes in Gaza that affected residential buildings, killing 606 Palestinians in their homes, most of them evidently non-combatants: children, women and elderly men. About 70 percent of the victims were either under 18 or over 60 years old.
Like during previous conflicts with the Palestinian military group Hamas, Israeli officials have insisted that the Israel Defense Force (IDF) operated strictly according to international law. Casualties among the civilian population can be explained by the fact that Hamas fighters use their compatriots as human shields, placing “command and control centers” within residential buildings and bringing families to live inside “terrorist infrastructure” facilities, the officials say.
“It is true that Hamas and other organizations operating in the Gaza Strip do not abide by international humanitarian law,” the report acknowledged, not questioning the fact that Hamas does use civilian centers to stage rocket attacks on Israeli territory.
Yet the fact that Tel Aviv tends to put blame for all Palestinian civilian deaths on Hamas, makes the IDF totally unaccountable for its activities, with “no restrictions whatsoever on Israeli action…no matter how horrifying the consequences,” the report said.
“This policy is unlawful through and through,” the report says.
The concept of “collateral damage,” however legal it might seem during warfare, has been exploited by the IDF to the extreme, the report claims.
“Even if the leaders of the state and the army believed that implementing this policy would bring about the cessation of firing on Israeli communities, it should not have been implemented because of the expected and horrific consequences,” the report says.