'Strong evidence' Israel committed war crimes in Gaza war

'Strong evidence' Israel committed war crimes in Gaza war
3 min read
29 July, 2015
Rights group Amnesty International says there is a 'strong evidence' of war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza following during last year's brutal war on the Strip.

An analysis of an Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip following the capture of one of its soldiers during last year's war in the Palestinian territory shows "strong evidence" of war crimes, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

The London-based rights group called for those responsible for the alleged offences to be prosecuted as it published a detailed analysis of the Israeli military operation using eyewitness accounts, satellite imagery, photos and videos.

     Israeli drones, helicopters and artillery rained down on the streets, striking civilians on foot or in cars
- Amnesty International

"There is strong evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes in their relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas of Rafah in order to foil the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives," Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

"They carried out a series of disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate attacks, which they have completely failed to investigate independently."

The incidents addressed in the report centred on August 1, 2014, which has become known as "Black Friday," when Goldin was captured shortly after a ceasefire was announced. He was later declared dead.

In response, the military was said to have implemented the so-called Hannibal Directive - a controversial procedure which allows for an intensive military response to secure the rescue of a captured soldier.

Israel bombed the city of Rafah and the surrounding area in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt.

Amnesty found that Israeli forces killed at least 135 Palestinian civilians, including 75 children.

"Massive and prolonged bombardment began without warning while masses of people were on the streets, and many of them, especially those in vehicles, became targets," Amnesty said.

"Eyewitness accounts described horrifying scenes of chaos and panic as an inferno of fire from F-16 jets, drones, helicopters and artillery rained down on the streets, striking civilians on foot or in cars, as well as ambulances and other vehicles evacuating the wounded."

Amnesty partnered with researchers from Forensic Architecture, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, for the report. 

Israel strongly denied the accusations, calling Amnesty's report "fundamentally flawed in its methodologies, in its facts, in its legal analysis and in its conclusions". 

However, Amnesty believes that a year after the conflict, Israeli authorities have failed to conduct credible, independent and impartial investigations into violations of international humanitarian law.

“Thus far, the Israeli authorities have proved at best incapable of carrying out independent investigations into crimes under international law in Rafah and elsewhere, and at worst unwilling to do so" Philip Luther said.

"Victims and their families have a right to justice and reparation. And those suspected of ordering or committing war crimes must be prosecuted” he added.