Amnesty International said in a Tuesday statement that the summer 2014 bombardment undertaken by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza was a “deliberate and direct attack on civilian buildings and amount to war crimes”.
The rights group added that the destruction caused during the conflict appeared to have been “wanton and unjustified”.
The IDF dubbed the 50 day military campaign against Gaza “Operation Protective Edge”, which Israel claimed was necessary to destroy tunnels and prevent rockets being fired into Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian factions.
The Amnesty International (AI) statement read that Israel targeted landmark buildings in the strip during the last four days of the conflict. It added that those “attacks are significant because they are examples of deliberate destruction and targeting of civilian buildings and property on a large scale, carried out without military necessity”.
“The Israeli authorities have provided no information on why the buildings were reduced to rubble, and if there were military reasons for doing so, why less destructive means were not selected,” said the statement.
Despite Israel taking measures to ensure residents were no longer within the buildings, personal possessions belonging to residents were lost, claimed AI. The IDF used firing warning missiles at buildings in a procedure referred to “knock on the roof”, as well as warning phone calls to Gaza residents instructing them to evacuate.
AI said that if Israel had “good reason” to believe the targeted buildings were used for military purposes, “they had an obligation to choose means and methods that would minimise the attack”.
International humanitarian law prohibits direct attacks on civilian objects and deliberate destruction without military necessity rendering the attacks by IDF a “serious violation” of international humanitarian law and “a war crime”.
AI has reiterated the condemnation of Israel’s attacks on inhabited homes in Gaza without providing explanation of “what was being targeted” and “whether a military objective was present”.
Israeli authorities responded to the report, stating that “the report ignored documented war crimes committed by Hamas” and accusing AI of being a “propaganda tool” for Hamas.
Israeli military attacks on Gaza started following the kidnapping and killing of three young Israeli settlers in June.
Egypt brokered an indefinite ceasefire agreement between Palestinian factions and Israel in August to end the conflict that lasted for 50 days in the Gaza strip. It left over 2,000 Palestinian dead, with over 60 Israelis killed, and resulted in the destruction of the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure.
Indirect talks occurred between Hamas and Israel in Cairo in September and were planned to continue in October, but have now been indefinitely postponed.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said“Egypt officially told [both sides] to postpone the round of indirect negotiations with the Israeli occupation in Cairo”. The request came due to attacks against Egyptian military forces in Sinai in October which left at least 30 army personnel dead and 30 more injured.
In mid-October, Egypt co-hosted with Norway “Reconstruction of Gaza Conference” which aimed at providing financial and humanitarian support for the people living in the strip.
Nearly 90 countries and international organisations attended the conference, donating $5.4bn for Gaza’s reconstruction.
“We appreciate Israel’s cooperation in continuing to provide humanitarian access to Gaza through its crossing [between Israel and Gaza], which is essential if all of this [effort] is going to work,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said during the conference. “We welcome that Israel has recently announced new measures that should allow increased trade in agricultural goods between Gaza and the West bank, and more permits for Palestinians business leaders to enter Israel.”
AI calls in its statement for the Commission of Inquiry set up by the United Nations to be allowed to conduct its investigation without hindrance. It called for Israeli authorities to remove the blockade on Amnesty International and other organisations entering Gaza.
It also called for independent and impartial investigations to be conducted over the “violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed during the conflict” by either Israelis or Palestinians.