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Israeli War Crimes

On January 1, 2011 an Israeli Center for Human Rights criticized the Palestinian organizations that fire rockets and mortars into Israeli territory. I’d like to point out that their criticism applies to Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2014. I have bolded the relevant portions.

“Palestinian organizations that fire rockets and mortar shells into Israel openly declare that they intend to strike Israeli civilians, among other targets. Aiming attacks at civilians is both immoral and illegal, and the intentional killing of civilians is defined [as] a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime that cannot be justified, under any circumstance. Furthermore, the rockets and mortar shells are illegal weapons, even when aimed at military objects, as they are greatly imprecise and endanger civilians present both in the area from which they are fired and where they land, thus violating two fundamental principles of the laws of war: distinction and proportionality.

Other parts of their statement emphasize the criminality of unnecessarily involving civilians in attacks:

“In a significant number of cases, Palestinians have fired the rockets and mortar shells from civilian residential areas. International humanitarian law (IHL) prohibits attacks from inside or near the homes of civilians, and using civilians as human shields. Palestinian organizations that choose to carry out attacks against communities in Israel from within or near populated areas breach this rule, and in doing so, demonstrate not only their intention to harm Israeli civilians, but also indifference to the lives of Palestinian civilians.”

Israeli military attacks in Gaza have attacked civilian homes and structures repeatedly in heavily populated areas. This has demonstrated the Israeli indifference to the lives of Palestinians. The statistics on the damage to human life and property demonstrate this.

Their condemnation of attacks emanating from Palestinian groups applies equally to Israel’s attacks on Gaza:

“The government is responsible for the breaches of international humanitarian law, due to its failure to take sufficient action to stop the firing from areas close to civilian homes, and even more so, as it actively takes part in these attacks. The persons involved in these breaches are guilty of war crimes and bear individual criminal responsibility for their acts.”

According to one source whose correctness I have not verified, a recent tally of Israeli-wrought destruction runs as follows:

“Palestinians killed: 1372 (315 children, 166 women and 60 elderly).

Palestinians wounded: 7680 (2307 children, 1529 women and 287 elderly).

Buildings destroyed: 5238

Buildings damaged: 4374

Damaged Hospitals and Health Centres:

13 hospitals and 10 clinics

34 health facilities closed

12 ambulances damaged

38 health personnel injured including:

Two pharmacists, four paramedics, one assistant pharmacist, one laboratory and blood bank manager.

One nurse and an Administration Manager died as a result of Israeli airstrikes.”

This list probably under-estimates the damage inflicted. It doesn’t include the power plant bombing. Estimates of the refugees run in the hundreds of thousands. The tunnels being used for imports and exports of goods count as infrastructure destruction.

Israel’s justification of self-defense against rocket attacks requires separate consideration.

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6:48 am on August 6, 2014