Conflict

‘They were just kids’: Amnesty calls for investigation of war crimes in Gaza

Mourners carry the body of a Palestine youth who was killed in Israel attack. [Photo: Twitter/ Times of Gaza]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) must investigate unlawful attacks committed during Israel’s August 2022 assault on the Gaza Strip as war crimes, Amnesty International said on Tuesday in a new research briefing.

“Using photographs of weapons fragments, satellite imagery analysis and testimony from dozens of interviews, the organization reconstructed the circumstances around three specific attacks, two of which were carried out by Israeli forces and one most likely by Palestinian armed groups,” the statement said.

The briefing, ‘They were just kids’: Evidence of war crimes during Israel’s August 2022 Gaza offensive, sets out why these attacks may amount to war crimes.

“Amnesty International found that the two Israeli attacks together killed six Palestinian civilians. Throughout the August offensive, Israeli authorities boasted about the precision of their operation. Yet Amnesty International found that victims of these ‘precise’ attacks included a four-year-old boy, a teenager visiting his mother’s grave, and a 22-year-old student at home with her family. The third attack, which killed seven Palestinian civilians, appears to have been caused by an unguided rocket launched by Palestinian armed groups”.

“Israel’s latest offensive on Gaza lasted only three days, but that was ample time to unleash fresh trauma and destruction on the besieged population. The three deadly attacks we examined must be investigated as war crimes; all victims of unlawful attacks and their families deserve justice and reparations,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“These violations were perpetrated in the context of Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade on Gaza, which is a key tool of its apartheid regime. Palestinians in Gaza are dominated, oppressed and segregated, trapped in a 15-year nightmare where recurrent unlawful attacks punctuate a worsening humanitarian crisis. As well as investigating war crimes committed in Gaza, the ICC should consider the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Secretary-General said.

Amnesty International said it interviewed 42 individuals for the briefing, including survivors of attacks, relatives of those killed or wounded, eyewitnesses, and medics.

“Israeli authorities have denied Amnesty International access to the Gaza Strip since 2012, so the organization worked with a fieldworker who visited 17 attack sites and collected evidence such as photographs of weapons remnants. Amnesty International’s weapons expert and Evidence Lab analysed evidence collected on the ground, as well as satellite imagery and other open-source material such as footage of attacks,” the Amnesty International statement said.

Amnesty International considered it had sufficient evidence to assess the lawfulness of three of the 17 attacks it documented, and these are the focus of the report.

The organization wrote to the Israeli authorities and to Palestinian Islamic Jihad on 30 September 2022, providing a summary of its key findings and requesting comment. It had not received a response from either at the time of publication.

 

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