Israeli Airstrikes on Civilians’ Buildings “War Crime”, says Amnesty

LONDON, December 9, 2014 (WAFA) – Israeli airstrikes on landmark buildings towards the end of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza strip in August 2014 were deliberate and direct attacks that amount to war crimes, said Amnesty International in a special report on Tuesday.

Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International said that the evidence acquired by Amnesty shows that “the large-scale destruction was carried out deliberately and with no military justification.”

He adds that facts and testimonies made by Israeli military figures reveal the attacks were a “collective punishment” and “designed to destroy their already precarious livelihoods.”

While the Israeli military warned the residents to leave before bombing the buildings, scores of people from living closely were injured and hundreds were emotionally devastated for the lose of their homes, businesses and belongings.

In all four cases, panicked residents hurried to evacuate the buildings and in most cases, were unable to salvage their belongings, including important documents, jewelry and savings.

“The Municipal Commercial Centre in Rafah, which contained a shopping mall, a garage, several offices and a medical clinic, was reduced to a tangled skeleton of iron girders and concrete.” The destruction of the compound led to the closure of several businesses which provided the livelihoods for hundreds of families.

Other than the suggestion that one of the destroyed buildings housed a Hamas command centre and of “facilities linked to Palestinian militants” in another, the Israeli authorities have provided no information as to why they leveled four entire buildings.

“Even if the Israeli authorities had good reason to believe that a part of a building was being used for military purposes, they had an obligation to choose means and methods of attack that would minimize harm to civilians and their property,” said Luther.

“The Israeli army has previously conducted air strikes on specific apartments in high-rise buildings without their complete destruction.”

Amnesty International called for the Commission of Inquiry set up by the United Nations to be allowed to conduct its investigation without hindrance and for the Israeli authorities to end their block on Amnesty International and other human rights organizations entering Gaza.

“War crimes must be independently and impartially investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice in fair trials. Those whose homes and livelihoods have been unlawfully destroyed deserve justice and full reparation,” concluded Luther.