Tel Aviv – Amnesty International, in its annual report released Thursday, accused Israel of having “repeatedly” violated the laws of war during its December offensive in the Gaza Strip that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians.
“Israeli forces repeatedly breached the laws of war, including by carrying out direct attacks on civilians and civilian buildings and attacks targeting Palestinian militants that caused a disproportionate toll among civilians,”
Some 300 children were among the dead and around 5,000 people were wounded in Israel’s three-week bombardment of the coastal enclave, according to the 2009 report titled: The State of the World’s Human Rights.
Israeli organization NGO Monitor criticized the report, saying Amnesty had ignored violations by the Palestinian Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip.
The Jerusalem-based organization also accused the international rights watchdog of failing to provide context in highlighting four cases of Palestinians who lost their lives after being denied entry into Israel for treatment.
The Amnesty report pointed out, however, that Israel had launched its offensive on December 27 in response to rocket attacks on southern Israeli towns by Palestinian militants. Seven Israelis were killed in such attacks in 2008 and three after the offensive was launched.
The Gaza conflict followed an 18-month Israeli blockade of Gaza that had brought almost all economic activities in the Palestinian territory and stoked a growing humanitarian catastrophe.
“This latest round of bloodletting again underscored the high degree of insecurity in the region and the failure of military forces, on both sides, to abide by the basic requirements of distinction and proportionality that are fundamental to the principles of international humanitarian law,” the report said.
“It underlined also the continuing failure of the two sides, and of the international community, to resolve the long, bitter conflict, to bring peace, justice and security to the region, and to enable all people in the region to live in the dignity that is their human right,” Amnesty said.(dpa)