JERUSALEM (AP) – A leading international rights group on Thursday alleged that Israel committed war crimes during this summer’s Gaza war, saying it reached that conclusion after investigating three attacks on or near United Nations-run schools housing displaced Palestinians.
Human Rights Watch said it investigated the strikes at the schools in three separate locations in the war-battered Gaza Strip, attacks in which at least 45 people were killed.
According to its investigation, based on field research and interviews with witnesses, the New York-based group said no military targets were apparent in the area of the schools and that some of the attacks were indiscriminate.
“The Israeli military carried out attacks on or near three well-marked schools where it knew hundreds of people were taking shelter, killing and wounding scores of civilians,” Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Israel has offered no convincing explanation for these attacks on schools where people had gone for protection and the resulting carnage.”
Israel argues that the heavy civilian death toll during the 50-day summer war was Hamas’ fault, accusing the militant group of launching rockets – and drawing retaliation – from school yards, residential areas and mosques.
On Wednesday, the Israeli military announced it had launched its own probe into cases involving Palestinian civilian casualties during the war, including the shelling of a UN school.