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Amnesty International Suggests the Possibility of Israeli Involvement in War Crimes in Gaza

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
19th February 2024
Amnesty International Suggests the Possibility of Israeli Involvement in War Crimes in Gaza
Destruction in Rafah from occupation forces' shelling on February 14 (Getty)

Since the start of its aggression against the Gaza Strip following the Palestinian resistance's Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7, Israel has claimed that its targets are solely military. It asserts that it warns civilians before bombing to evacuate areas deemed operationally hazardous.

While Israeli officials have emphasized their commitment to international law in executing any air or ground military operations in the Gaza Strip, the ongoing war in Gaza has resulted in an increasing number of civilian casualties, particularly among women and children. According to a report by the Palestinian Ministry of Health on October 10 of last year, at least 704 civilians were killed and 3,900 injured in the first 48 hours of the aggression.

Furthermore, Israel continued its targeting of health and religious facilities, as well as civilian infrastructure. The latest incident was the bombing of Nasser Medical Hospital in Khan Yunis.

Meanwhile, the threat of initiating a military operation in Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip and housing over 1.7 million people, the majority of whom were displaced there during Israel’s previous war, has prompted ongoing warnings from international and UN reports regarding the dangers posed by Israeli airstrikes on civilians in Gaza. Consequently, Human Rights Watch has deemed the evacuation plans for Rafah as “disastrous and illegal.”

Amnesty International report documents new evidence of possible war crimes in Israeli attacks on Rafah
Amnesty International report documents new evidence of possible war crimes in Israeli attacks on Rafah

On February 12, Amnesty International’s report verified four bombing operations, during which the occupation forces targeted four civilian homes in Rafah. The report found no evidence of military targets associated with the Hamas movement, contradicting Israel’s claim of not targeting civilians.

An Amnesty International Report Suggests Israel’s Possible Involvement in War Crimes

The report, published on Monday, February 12, states that Israel may be implicated in war crimes due to its bombing of four buildings belonging to Palestinian families in Rafah. The organization's report suggests that at least 95 civilians, including 42 children, were killed “in four unlawful strikes in supposedly ‘safe’ areas.”

Amnesty International's investigation found no indication that the residential buildings hit could be considered legitimate military objectives or that people in the buildings were military targets, “raising serious concerns that the strikes were direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects and must therefore be investigated as war crimes.”

Amnesty visited the sites of all four attacks, taking photographs and recording videos of the destruction, and interviewed a total of 18 people, including 14 survivors and four relatives who took part in rescue operations.

Amnesty also analyzed satellite imagery, photos, and videos to geolocate and verify the attacks and resulting destruction, as well as reviewing the war diary published by the Israeli military’s official page, which had no reference to any of the four attacks.

Moreover, Amnesty sent questions regarding the attacks to the Israeli authorities on January 19 and January 30. “At the time of publication, no response had been received.”

According to the details provided by Amnesty International, Israeli attacks targeted two homes belonging to the Harb family in Al-Zuhour district on December 12, resulting in the deaths of 25 civilians, including ten children. Another attack occurred on the home of retired surgeon Dr. Abdallah Shehada in the Brazil district of Rafah on December 14, resulting in the deaths of the doctor and at least 29 other civilians, including 11 children.

Amnesty International also reported that on December 19, an Israeli attack targeted the home of the Zu’rub family in western Rafah, resulting in the deaths of 22 civilians, including 11 children. Additionally, on January 9, the Nofal family home in the Tal Al-Sultan district of Rafah was attacked, resulting in the deaths of 18 civilians, including ten children.

The organization explained, “Even if Israeli forces had intended to target legitimate military objectives in the vicinity of these four attacks, the attacks evidently failed to distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects and would therefore be indiscriminate, and as such war crimes.”

The evidence collected by Amnesty also indicates that the Israeli military “failed to provide effective, or indeed any, warning to those living in the locations.”

The UN Warns of a Potential Israeli Military Attack on Rafah

Amnesty International cautioned in its latest report that “Any major Israeli ground operation in Rafah is likely to have cataclysmic consequences for civilians. Successive waves of forced mass displacement have turned Rafah into Gaza’s most overcrowded area.”

Amnesty also indicated that “Rafah’s population has risen fivefold from its pre-war population and more than a million people are crammed into an area of 63 km2, living in dire conditions including in makeshift tents and schools.”

For its part, the United Nations expressed its concern in a report published on February 6 on its official website about the possibility of a full-scale ground invasion by the Israeli occupation army of the densely populated city of Rafah. “Any move by Israel to extend its full-scale invasion of Gaza into the massively overcrowded southern city of Rafah could lead to war crimes which must be prevented at all costs,” the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, said.

The occupation army targeted 14 homes and three mosques in various areas of Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip, on February 12, resulting in the deaths of over 63 Palestinians and injuring dozens.

Israel stated at the time that it had successfully freed two hostages during an operation carried out by special forces in the city of Rafah. In response, Hamas regarded the operation as “a continuation of the war of genocide and forced displacement of civilians.”

The Israeli war against the Gaza Strip persists for the 133rd consecutive day. On Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that the occupying army committed ten new massacres against families in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of 112 citizens and 157 injuries within just 24 hours. Consequently, the toll of the war on Gaza has risen to 28,775 Palestinian civilian casualties, alongside 68,552 injuries.

The Israeli war against the Gaza Strip

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