Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Amnesty International accuses Israel of war crimes


LONDON (AFP) -- The Israeli military committed war crimes during its Gaza offensive this summer and must be investigated, human rights monitor Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

The destruction of four multi-story buildings during the last four days of the 50-day war were in breach of international humanitarian law, the group said in a report.

"All the evidence we have shows this large-scale destruction was carried out deliberately and with no military justification," said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa program.

"War crimes must be independently and impartially investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice in fair trials."

Evidence including statements by the Israeli military at the time indicate the attacks were "a collective punishment against the people of Gaza" designed to destroy their livelihoods, Luther added.

There was no immediate reaction to the Amnesty statement from Israeli authorities.

However, Israel has refused to cooperate with a UN inquiry into possible war crimes during the conflict, accusing it of bias.

The Israeli army has launched a series of criminal investigations into incidents in the war, including the shelling of a UN school that medics said killed at least 15 people and the bombing of a beach where four children died.

Critics, however, have said that the investigations by Israel will not be independent.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the war between Israel and Hamas-led militants, which ended on August 26. On the Israeli side 73 people were killed, 67 of them soldiers. more

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