Israel’s ‘shocking disregard’ for Palestinian lives may amount to war crimes, says Amnesty

‘Entire families were buried beneath the rubble when the buildings they lived in collapsed’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 18 May 2021 08:18
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<p>People inspect the rubble of destroyed residential building that was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Monday, May 17, 2021</p>

People inspect the rubble of destroyed residential building that was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Monday, May 17, 2021

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Attacks by Israeli forces on residential homes in Gaza should be investigated as “war crimes,” Amnesty International said on Monday.

Calling the attacks “crimes against humanity”, the human rights body said that Israel was displaying a “shocking disregard” for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

Amnesty International has appealed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the “deadly attacks” by Israel on the residential homes “without prior warning.” The death toll in Gaza is more than 200 now. More than 1200 have been injured in the latest spate of violence. In Israel, 10 people have lost their lives.

Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “There is a horrific pattern emerging of Israel launching airstrikes in Gaza targeting residential buildings and family homes – in some cases, entire families were buried beneath the rubble when the buildings they lived in collapsed.”

He added that in some cases no prior warning was given to the civilian residents to allow them to escape. “Under international humanitarian law, all parties must distinguish between military targets and civilian objects and direct their attacks only at military objectives. When carrying out attacks, parties must take all feasible precautions to minimise harm to civilians.”

Israel’s “brazen deadly attacks” on Gaza, Amnesty International said, demonstrates a “callous disregard” for the lives of Palestinian civilians “who are already suffering the collective punishment of Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza since 2007.”

According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, at least 152 residential properties in Gaza have been destroyed since 11 May. The Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza said, “Israeli strikes have destroyed 94 buildings, comprising 461 housing and commercial units while 285 housing units have been severely damaged and rendered uninhabitable.”

More than 2,500 people have been made homeless due to the destruction of their homes and more than 38,000 people have been internally displaced and have sought shelter in 48 UNRWA (Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) schools across Gaza, the Amnesty statement to the media read.

The global human rights body also blamed Palestinian armed groups for “indiscriminate rocket-fire” towards civilian areas of Israel that killed and injured civilians.

The statement also said that “Amnesty International has previously published evidence that the Israeli military had a deliberate policy of targeting family homes during the 2014 conflict.”

The US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has expressed support for a ceasefire in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. The airstrikes between Israel and Hamas continue as fighting enters the second week.

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