‘Already disproved’: IDF counters claims of Gaza ‘war crimes’ by Human Rights Watch report

“HRW chooses to recycle claims already disproved instead of condemning the blatant violations of international law by Hamas and other terror organizations,” says the IDF.

By Meira Svirsky, World Israel News

The Israel Defense Forces is hotly contesting a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) about the May Israel-Gaza conflict that accuses Israel of violating “laws of war” and actions that “apparently amount to war crimes.”

Although the report also condemns Palestinian terror groups for the same accusations, it focuses on Israel, specifically on three incidents in which Palestinians were killed.

“We regret that HRW chooses to recycle claims already disproved instead of condemning the blatant violations of international law by Hamas and other terror organizations, such as carrying out military operations from civilian areas including mosques, schools and hospitals, and firing indiscriminately at the Israeli civilian population,” the IDF said in response to the report, reported The Algemeiner.

Furthermore, although the IDF has investigated each incident mentioned in the report, HRW states that the Israeli military has “a long track record of failing to investigate laws of war violations committed in or from Gaza.”

In addition, despite evidence to the contrary, the report draws the conclusion that there “were no evident military targets in the vicinity” of the three incidents in question in which 62 Palestinian civilians were killed.

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Ironically, the IDF long ago showed that the first incident featured in the report – that of a missile attack on May 10 on four houses of the al-Masri family near the town of Beit Hanoun – was not caused by Israeli fire but rather by a “failed launch attempt by a terror organization in Gaza.”

As proof, the IDF published graphics that detailed the trajectory of the Palestinian rocket responsible for the civilian deaths.

The IDF has said that the second incident mentioned in the report is under investigation. In that incident, Israeli forces struck a building in the Al-Shati refugee camp on May 15 that was used as a “terror infrastructure” but also housed civilians. Ten civilians, including eight children, were killed, which the IDF called a tragedy.

However, the IDF noted, “Hamas deliberately embeds its military assets in densely populated civilian areas, endangering Gazan civilians in order to cover its unlawful terror activities that put civilians directly in harms way. At the same time, the IDF takes all feasible precautions to avoid harming civilians during its operational activities.”

The third incident concerned strikes on al-Wahda street in Gaza City on May 16 that targeted underground terror tunnels and a command center used by terror groups.

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After an investigation, the IDF concluded that, “The underground military facilities collapsed, and caused, in an unexpected manner, the foundations of nearby civilian buildings to collapse as well, leading to unintended casualties.”

Still, the report claimed that the Israel military offered “no details” of its findings of the incident.

HRW says it will release a separate report focusing on Palestinian violations. However, it did note in the report that “Palestinian armed groups” launched more than 4,360 unguided rockets and mortars toward Israeli population centers, violating the prohibition against deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians.

The report stated, “Lacking guidance systems, the rockets are inherently indiscriminate when directed toward areas with civilians.”

In contrast, the IDF says, it “takes all feasible precautions to avoid harming civilians during its operational activities,” which includes regularly warning residents to leave buildings and areas before a planned attack.

By the report’s own definition, Palestinian rocket attacks constitute war crimes, however, the Israeli strikes, which are made in response, do not. As the report states, attacks “must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians … The laws of war also prohibit indiscriminate attacks, which include attacks that do not distinguish between civilians and military targets or do not target a military objective.”