[JURIST] The Israeli army’s air strikes on four landmark buildings in Gaza from July to August this year were deliberate and indicative of war crimes [report, PDF], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said Tuesday. No one was killed in the attacks, but many civilians in neighboring buildings were severely injured. AI reported that these attacks were different than previous war crimes committed by the Israeli military, as the military ensured that people were not inside the building before conducting the air strikes. The military did not give any reasons as to why it decided to destroy the buildings, but some remarks have suggested that one of the buildings contained a Hamas center and another “housed facilities linked to Palestanian militants.” AI nevertheless believes that the attacks were “not justified by military necessity.” Director of AI’s Middle East and North Africa programs, Philip Luther, commented on the issue:
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.
AI suggests that the air strikes were in violation of international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention [official website], to which Israel is a member. AI has called on the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry [official website] to investigate whether the attacks were in fact war crimes.
In recent months attacks between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory have led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians, prompting the UN and the international community to call for an end to the conflict. In November AI asserted that Israeli forces dropped aerial bombs or launched missiles [JURIST report] at at least eight inhabited family homes, three instances of which the attacks targeted a military official who would likely be present with his family at that time. In September Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] the Israeli military of committing war crimes over the summer by attacking schools where hundreds of displaced Palestinians sought shelter. The three attacks, which took place on July 24, July 30 and August 3, killed 45 people, including 17 children. In August the UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 [official website] formally requested access [JURIST report] to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory to gather first-hand information into the human rights situation in Gaza.