Smoke rises after an Israeli aircraft bombed a multi-story building in Gaza City August 9, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Two NGOs sent a letter to key Israeli government and IDF officials on Tuesday, demanding an immediate independent criminal investigation into the August 9 attack that destroyed a building in Gaza and allegedly wounded 24 people.
Adalah-The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights sent a letter to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Military Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. Sharon Afek and Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit regarding the attack on the Mis’hal Center for Culture and Science in Gaza.
While the NGOs allege a “grave breach of international humanitarian law... that could amount to a war crime” which requires prosecution, the IDF has said the building also served as the headquarters for Hamas’s interior security operations.
Moreover, it said the office was considered an executive branch of Hamas’s political leadership.
Many of its members are also military operatives, according to the IDF. It also said the air strike was a high-level retaliation and warning by the IDF to Hamas for a Grad missile fired from Gaza on Beersheba – which was viewed as an escalation of hostilities between the sides.
Although international humanitarian law expressly forbids militaries from attacking “civilian” sites, a location can sometimes be seen as a “military” site if it is used for military purposes. One part of the analysis regarding legality will be determining whether any civilians injured in the attack were in the building at the time.
Another aspect will be what the IDF knew about the number of civilians likely to be injured compared to the military value of any Hamas forces in such an attack.
It was later reported that Hamas arrested the cell whose members fired the Grad rocket on Beersheba.
The sides have reached a temporary “quiet-for-quiet” cease-fire and negotiations are ongoing to reach a more long-term arrangement, but not all hostilities have ceased and it is unclear if the cease-fire will hold.
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