Amnesty International published a report early Wednesday accusing Israel of war crimes in its 50-day war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip this summer, saying its military showed “callous indifference” to civilians in airstrikes on homes that felled entire families.
The report also said that “Palestinian armed groups fired thousands of indiscriminate rockets and mortar rounds into civilian areas of Israel,” suggesting violations of international law by both sides.
But virtually all of its 49 pages were devoted to eyewitness testimony and expert analysis of weaponry in eight Israeli attacks that killed 104 people, 59 of them under 18. Amnesty found evidence of military targets in at least four of the cases, but argued that these were nonetheless “grossly disproportionate.”
Among the victims, the report said, were people who had fled their homes after Israeli warnings of danger there, and were staying with relatives after having found no space at United Nations shelters. Though the Israeli military phoned Gaza residents or dropped lighter missiles — called “a knock on the roof” — to warn of some impending bombings, Amnesty said it found no such notice given in these cases.
An Israeli military spokesman said all eight cases were among more than 90 under after-action review by the military itself, which has moved more swiftly than in previous conflicts to conduct criminal investigations and other probes into soldiers’ and commanders’ conduct. Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the report “accuses Israel of wrongdoing while producing no evidence” and “ignores documented war crimes perpetrated by Hamas,” the militant Islamist movement that dominates Gaza.
Israeli officials said during and since the bloody battle that Hamas endangered civilians and committed the war crime of human shielding by conducting military operations from homes as well as hospitals, mosques and schools, including several run by the United Nations where weapons were found.