Amnesty International calls for war crimes investigation into Israel bombings News
Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Amnesty International calls for war crimes investigation into Israel bombings

Amnesty International on Monday called for an “expedited” investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. The human rights organization cited two cases in which they claimed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombed targets with no “military objective.” A spokesperson for the rights organization called the bombings “part of a documented pattern of disregard for Palestinian civilians.”

The first case involved the bombing of St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church on October 19. Amnesty International claimed around 450 civilians were sheltered inside the church at the time of the bombing. In its own statement, church officials said the religious compound was serving solely as a refuge. The second case focused on the bombing of a residence in al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. The death toll from both bombings was estimated at 46 civilians, including 20 children.

Under the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court (ICC) may intervene to investigate possible war crimes should a state not undertake its own investigation. Article 8 of the statute allows ICC jurisdiction in the event of “[i]ntentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities.” Israel signed the Rome Statute in 2000 but is no longer a member.

The IDF has challenged the accusations of war crimes. In a press release, the IDF claimed in detail how Hamas intentionally stationed military operations and equipment near or in civilian structures. In the statement, they cited a specific example of rocket launch pads embedded into a playground. As a consequence, Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant urged civilians in Gaza to avoid such “terror hotspots” in a statement on X.

An ICC investigation into potential war crimes committed during an Israel-Hamas conflict in 2014 has been ongoing since 2021. Recently, a group of five countries petitioned to expand the investigation to alleged war crimes committed since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

Amnesty International has also accused Hamas fighters of war crimes during the October 7 attack of Israel.