15 Aug

Israel troops ‘shot Gaza civilians’

Human Rights Watch says Israeli forces unlawfully shot at civilians during the Gaza war

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Israeli soldiers unlawfully shot and killed 11 Palestinian civilians, including four children, who were in groups waving white flags during the Gaza war, a report prepared by the US-based Human Rights Watch says.

Civilians Killed Holding White Flags in Gaza, published on Thursday, is HRW’s third publication in five months condemning Israel’s actions during the Gaza conflict, following allegations over white phosphorous and drones.

For its part, the Israeli government appears to have launched a campaign to discredit human-rights groups in an attempt to staunch the flow of damaging evidence of war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict.

It has begun by targeting HRW, as well as a local group of dissident army veterans, Breaking the Silence, which last month published the testimonies of 26 Israeli soldiers who served in Gaza.

Seven incidents

The “white flags” report published by HRW examines seven incidents during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza in January in which soldiers shot and killed 11 Palestinians, most of them women and children, and wounded others.

“The Israeli military should conduct thorough, credible investigations into these deaths to tackle the prevailing culture of impunity,” it said.

The HRW said the 11 people were only a small fraction of the total number of civilians and combatants killed in the December-January Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

“However, these deaths stand out because the civilians were in groups waving a white cloth, T-shirt or scarf, and no Palestinian fighters were in the area at the time,” the report said.

“Under the laws of war, individuals who carry out or order deliberate attacks on civilians are responsible for war crimes.”

In one of the cases mentioned, two women and three children were standing in front of their home after a soldier ordered them outside.

At least three of them were holding pieces of white cloth when a soldier opened fire, killing two girls aged two and seven and wounding the third girl and their grandmother.

“We spent seven to nine minutes waving the flags, and our faces were looking at them,” the grandmother, who was shot twice, was quoted as saying.

“And suddenly they opened fire and the girls fell to the ground.”

In five of the seven incidents detailed in the HRW report, Israeli soldiers shot at civilians who were walking down the street with white flags, trying to leave areas of fighting.

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