Amnesty war crime report picks out Israel

Amnesty International: 'Both sides committed war crimes'

Amnesty International: 'Both sides committed war crimes'

A new report from Amnesty International says that both sides in the Gaza conflict committed war crimes.

But the 117-page report has been attacked by NGO Monitor’s Professor Gerald Steinberg, who says that the report is “further evidence of Amnesty’s obsessive attempts to condemn and isolate Israel”.

The overwhelming focus of the report is on the actions of the Israeli army, which Amnesty says “killed hundreds of unarmed Palestinian civilians and destroyed thousands of homes in Gaza, in attacks which breached the laws of war”.

Although there was no official Israeli response at the time of going to press, an IDF source told the JC: “The IDF carried out a series of rigorous investigations following Operation Cast Lead in which the use of illegal weapons was ruled out.

“The IDF investigated every Palestinian death during the operation and found that the number of civilians killed, with no connection to terror organisations, was around 250, a much lower number than civilian casualties in comparable operations elsewhere.

“Most of these were in areas where the IDF had warned the civilian population in advance by a variety of communication methods that it was unsafe to remain.

“Many of the civilians killed were in buildings where it was known that Hamas have headquarters and ammunition dumps. The IDF is continuing investigations into isolated cases in which soldiers violated express orders and used excessive force or damaged or stole civilian property.”

Amnesty’s report, Operation Cast Lead: 22 Days Of Death And Destruction, documents Israel’s use of battlefield weapons in the Gaza Strip.

According to the mission, led by Donatella Rivera, to Gaza and southern Israel both during and after the conflict, Amnesty claimed that “many were killed when their homes were bombed while they slept. Children were struck while playing in their bedrooms or on the roof, or near their homes. Paramedics and ambulances were repeatedly attacked while attempting to rescue the wounded or recover the dead”.

Amnesty said that the Israeli army had not responded to its repeated requests over the past five months for information on specific cases detailed in the report and for meetings to discuss the organisation’s findings.

NGO Monitor has issued a scathing analysis of the Amnesty report. It says Amnesty has ignored well-documented evidence of “Hamas’s extensive use of human shields”, instead finding “no evidence that Hamas or other fighters directed the movement of civilians to shield military objectives from attacks.”

The report also describes Israel as “the occupying power in the Gaza Strip”, disregarding the fact that Israel evacuated its civilian and military presence in 2005.

Professor Steinberg attacked the report as “ a pernicious and immoral campaign entirely inconsistent with the pursuit of human rights.”

    Last updated: 4:08pm, July 22 2009