Armed Palestinian groups firing rockets at Israeli population centers violated the laws of war during Operation Pillar of Defense, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released Monday.
“Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” said HRW's Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson. “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.”
The group also found that Gazan groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committee, justified targeting civilian centers as reprisal for Israeli strikes, an act also banned under international law.
Furthermore, such groups "repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses, and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter-fire," the report said.
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