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Rights organisation: Israel’s targeting of civilians ‘war crime’

The Euro-mid Observer for Human Rights issued a press release on Monday expressing “great concern regarding the ‘knock on the roof’ practice, in which Israeli forces fire a light missile on the roof of the home as a ‘warning’, before firing another missile in less than a minute which destroys the home completely.”

The statement stressed that: “These warning have been reported to be lethal, as causalities have been reported including injuries. Additionally, not enough time is provided for civilians to evacuate properly.”

Last week Israel launched a massive military assault on the Gaza Strip, which has so far killed at least 192 Palestinians and injured about 1,400, according to Palestinian officials. Hundreds of homes have been targeted and destroyed, on many occasions killing entire families.

The rights organisation continued: “Hundreds of Palestinian citizens have received warnings from the Israeli occupation forces in several areas in the Gaza Strip ordering them to evacuate their homes as Israeli forces were about to bomb them.”

While Israel claims that fighters are using these homes as a base to fire rockets, Euro-mid points out that Israel has not provided any evidence to support this claim. The group added: “Holding civilians accountable for an act they did not commit amounts to collective punishment, which is a war crime under International law.”

The organisation said that Israeli occupation forces have been widely targeting civilian homes in the Gaza Strip for days, exceeding military necessities and using excessive force.

Euro-mid Observer, based in Geneva, also issued a press release on Sunday that criticised Israel for asking civilians to immediately evacuate a very large area in the north of the Gaza Strip. It said that approximately 300,000 civilians live in this area.

“This makes targeting them in such way unjustified and does not take into account ‘the principle of proportionality’ between the anticipated military advantage and the destruction of civilians’ properties and livelihoods,” the organisation said.

In addition, Euro-mid explained that Israel has been targeting the houses of Hamas operatives, in several instances killing most of their family members, including women, children and the elderly. The organisation noted that: “None of these cases was confirmed that Hamas operatives were inside their houses.”

Euro-mid added that: “Deliberately attacking civilian homes constitutes a war crime and also amounts to collective punishment against the families. The strike on the home of Al-Batsh family on 13 July in Gaza city was the deadliest family massacre since Israel launched its offence. The strike killed 18 members and completely destroyed the family home, while the ‘Hamas operative’ that Israel was after, was not killed in the attack.”Infographic by Euro-Mid

 

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