Human Rights Watch: Israeli attacks on Gaza UN schools are war crime

"Three Israeli attacks that damaged Gaza schools housing displaced people caused numerous civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war," group says.

September 11, 2014 13:58
1 minute read.

UNRWA school damaged by fighting in Gaza. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israeli attacks on three schools in Gaza over the summer during Operation Protective Edge constitute war crimes, the New York-based Human Rights Watch charged on Thursday.

It did not make a similar charge against Hamas for indiscriminately targeting Israeli civilians during this summer’s war.

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But it did state that the International Criminal Court should prosecute serious international crimes by “both sides.”

The report focused on three attacks on school during the war that occurred on July 24, on July 30 and on August 3. In the three attacks 45 people were killed, of whom 17 were children.

“The Israeli military carried out attacks on or near three well-marked schools where it knew hundreds of people were taking shelter, killing and wounding scores of civilians,” said Fred Abrahams, a special adviser at HRW.

“Israel has offered no convincing explanation for these attacks on schools where people had gone for protection and the resulting carnage,” he added.

During the summer, the IDF said that attacks targeted Hamas operatives. On Thursday, the IDF said the incidents from this summer were under investigation and that it was premature to comment prior to the conclusion of that work. On Wednesday, the IDF specified that the July 24 attack was part of that investigation.

HRW, however, charged that in the past Israel had failed to conduct credible investigations.

Based on its field work, HRW said, it concluded that the attacks in Beit Hanun on July 24 and Jabalya on July 30 “did not appear to target a military objective or were otherwise indiscriminate.

“The third attack in Rafah was unlawfully disproportionate if not otherwise indiscriminate.

Unlawful attacks carried out willfully – that is, deliberately or recklessly – are war crimes,” it said in its report.

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