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Gaza Rocket Attacks Are Palestinian War Crimes, Amnesty International Says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Several rocket attacks launched at Israel from inside the Gaza Strip amount to war crimes, Amnesty International said.

In a report released Wednesday, the human rights group also found that Palestinian rocket fire during the Hamas-Israel conflict last summer killed more civilians inside the Gaza Strip than inside Israel due to the use of unguided projectiles that cannot be accurately aimed at specific targets. In many cases, the rockets landed inside Gaza rather than the intended targets in Israel.

Using unguided weapons is prohibited under international law and their use constitutes a war crime. “Palestinian armed groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, repeatedly launched unlawful attacks during the conflict killing and injuring civilians,” said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, in a statement. “In launching these attacks, they displayed a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and for the consequences of their violations on civilians in both Israel and the Gaza Strip.”

Six Israeli civilians were killed in the conflict last summer.

“Palestinian armed groups must end all direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks,” Luther said. “They must also take all feasible precautions to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip from the effects of such attacks. This includes taking all possible measures to avoid locating fighters and arms within or near densely populated areas.” At least 1,585 Palestinian civilians, including more than 530 children, were killed in Gaza, according to Amnesty, and at least 16,245 homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by Israeli attacks during the conflict. Amnesty says some of these attacks also amounted to war crimes.

“The devastating impact of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians during the conflict is undeniable, but violations by one side in a conflict can never justify violations by their opponents,” Luther said.

He called on both sides to cooperate with investigations by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry and the International Criminal Court to end what he called “a cycle of violations in which civilians on both sides have paid a heavy price.”

Two previous Amnesty reports on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge were critical of Israel’s military.

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