Amnesty International said an investigation by the International Criminal Court is key to “to bring to justice those responsible for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity” in the ongoing and previous Palestine-Israel conflicts.
The death toll has risen on the Palestinian and Israeli sides, after a ceasefire between Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel on Friday quickly broke down. The international human rights watchdog said there is mounting evidence that all parties have committed war crimes.
Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a Friday statement: “An International Criminal Court investigation is crucial to end the pervasive culture of impunity. All sides must push for the Court to investigate such crimes in order to halt the vicious cycle of violations and injustice once and for all.”
At least 76 families in Gaza have lost three or more family members, according to a United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) report on the emergency situation in Gaza. The Abu Suleiman family lost seven members and another 35 were injured after their home was bombed, early Saturday morning.
As of Saturday afternoon, Palestinian deaths had reached 1,650 and Israeli deaths, 66. However, Gaza’s health ministry Spokesman Ashraf Al-Qedra said Saturday afternoon that the number is continuously rising, with bodies being pulled from under the rubble in south Gaza, adding that no more figures will be announced until all bodies are recovered.
Dozens were killed in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah after the city was the target of intense tank and artillery shelling on Friday, and over 250 were injured. The deaths in Rafah include that of a four month old baby boy, according to Al-Qedra.
The deaths in Israel include those of 63 soldiers and three civilians, one of which was a Thai migrant worker. At least 926 civilians were among the Gaza casualties, according to OCHA figures as of Friday afternoon. These include nearly 290 children.
Amnesty said that over decades it has “collected compelling evidence of war crimes “committed by Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups, but perpetrators on both sides continue to enjoy impunity.”
The OCHA report said: “With no location now perceived as safe and immune from attack, the resumption of hostilities is fuelling further frustration and hopelessness and despair among the civilian population and placing additional strain on the humanitarian community’s capacity to respond.”
The deadly fighting which began on 7 July and continued for 27 days has left the densely populated strip in dire straits. Fuel shortages and a lack of electricity affect access to water for Gaza’s 1.8 million people.
According to OCHA, “one quarter of the Gaza population are displaced.” The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said over 254,000 Palestinians are now seeking shelter in 90 of its schools. As many as 200,000 people are estimated to be seeking shelter in the homes of host families, with another 25,000 seeking shelter in government schools and informal shelters.
The situation inside UNRWA shelters is increasingly tense since they normally have the capacity to host 500 people, but are hosting an average of 2,800 instead. Gazans have had to flee their homes after evacuation orders were issued by Israel, and damage or destruction of homes has forced them to find alternative shelter. It is estimated that 872 houses have been destroyed or damaged.
Israel’s stated aim of this ongoing military operation in Gaza is to “stop Hamas rocket fire into Israel”. Israel claims that “Hamas hides their weapons in and fires from schools, hospitals and mosques”.
However, the OCHA cited concerns by human rights organisations “regarding incidents where civilians or civilian objects have been directly hit by Israeli airstrikes, in circumstances where there was allegedly no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity”.
On Wednesday, an UNRWA school was repeatedly shelled in Jabalia, north Gaza. The incident was widely condemned, including by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who said it was “outrageous” and “unjustifiable.” He added that “all available evidence points to Israeli artillery as the cause.”
On 24 July, another UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, was struck killing at least 15 people. On Monday, the first day of Islamic holiday, Eid Al-Fitr, a strike at a children’s park in Al-Shati camp in Gaza killed 10 children.