Israeli embassy in London said “the report does not mention the word terror in relation to Hamas or other armed Palestinian groups, nor mention tunnels built by Hamas to infiltrate Israel and perpetrate terror attacks…ignores documented war crimes perpetrated by Hamas…Instead, Amnesty serves as a propaganda tool for Hamas and other terror groups.”
Amnesty International issued a harsh report Wednesday accusing Israel of committing war crimes in its 50-day summer war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The report, titled “Families under the Rubble: Israeli attacks on inhabited homes,” accuses the Israeli military of “callous indifference” to civilians in its airstrikes on the enclave, that killed entire families.
The report focuses on eyewitness testimony and expert analysis of weaponry in eight Israeli attacks that killed 104 people, 59 of them under the age of 18. Amnesty found that at least four of the attacks involved Palestinian military targets, but argued that the attacks were nonetheless “grossly disproportionate.”
Survivors of one of the attacks, on the family home of the al-Hallaq family, described horrifying scenes of strewn body parts amid the dust and chaos after three missiles struck the house.
Khalil Abed Hassan Ammar, a doctor with the Palestinian Medical Council who lives in the building said: “It was terrifying we couldn’t save anyone…. All of the kids were burnt, I couldn’t tell which were mine and which were the neighbors’… We carried whoever we were able to the ambulance… I only recognized Ibrahim, my eldest child, when I saw the shoes he was wearing… I had bought them for him two days before.”
Ayman Haniyeh, one of the neighbours, described the trauma of trying to search for survivors:
“All I can remember are the bits and pieces I saw of bodies, teeth, head, arms, insides, everything scattered and spread,” he said. One survivor of the same attack described hugging a bag full of the “shreds” of her son’s body.
An Israeli military spokesman said all eight cases described in the report were among more than 90 cases under internal review. 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 report does mention that “Palestinian armed groups fired thousands of indiscriminate rockets and mortar rounds into civilian areas of Israel,” suggesting a violation of international law.
But the reaction issued by the Israeli embassy in London said “the report does not mention the word terror in relation to Hamas or other armed Palestinian groups, nor mention tunnels built by Hamas to infiltrate Israel and perpetrate terror attacks.
“By ignoring the nature of the enemy Israel faced in Gaza — a terror group recognized as such by the European Union, the United States and others — Amnesty’s report fails to contribute to the important discussion needed to solve the conflict.
“Instead,” the statement adds, “Amnesty serves as a propaganda tool for Hamas and other terror groups.”
During the 50-day war, six civilians, including a four-year-old boy, were killed on the Israeli side, along with 67 soldiers. Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, were killed in Gaza, according to the United Nations; some 100,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.
“The repeated, disproportionate attacks on homes indicate that Israel’s current military tactics are deeply flawed and fundamentally at odds with international humanitarian law,” said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program, said in a statement accompanying the report.
Meanwhile, Israel reopened its crossing points into Gaza, two days after closing them in response to a rocket fired into Israeli territory on Friday night. Robert Serry, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, announced Tuesday that reconstruction efforts have begun in Gaza, with 700 families being allowed to purchase materials to repair their homes by Monday evening.
Amnesty called for both Israel and the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court so it can prosecute cases from this summer, and urges Israel to participate in an inquiry by the United Nations Human Rights Council that it has so far boycotted out of concern for predetermined bias.
Amnesty said its employees had been barred by Israel from entering Gaza since 2012, and thus relied on two fieldworkers who visited the site of each bombing.
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