Amnesty International (AI) has urged the UN to urgently mandate an
independent international investigation into Israeli airstrikes on Gaza
as well as Palestine's indiscriminate shelling of Israel, and hold
accountable those responsible for war crimes.
Despite claims by Israel that its operation "Protective Edge", launched June 8, targets Hamas militants, most of more than a hundred Palestinians killed in airstrikes on Gaza are civilians, Amnesty says, adding that at least 24 children and 16 women were among the casualties.
Simultaneously, at least 20 people in Israel have been wounded
by rocket attacks from Palestinian territories, according to the human
rights watchdog, calling on the UN to set up a "fact-finding mission to
Gaza and Israel to investigate violations of international humanitarian
law by all parties to the conflict."
"Swift UN action is needed as lives hang in the balance," said Philip
Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty
International. "The international community must not repeat previous
mistakes, standing by and watching the devastating consequences for
civilians of both sides."
Amnesty sees arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian military groups as a means of preventing the violence escalating further.
"Pending such an embargo, all states must immediately suspend all
transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to the
parties, which have failed to properly investigate violations committed
in previous conflicts, or bring those responsible to justice," Amnesty's
official statement reads.
Strikes on homes, performed as part of Israel's military operation, are a
matter of particular concern to human rights groups. The UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on Friday questioned the legality of such attacks.
Israel has argued that all targets in the Gaza strip are either military facilities or are homes of Hamas militants.
"In case of doubt, buildings ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such
as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets," Libi
Vice, spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces (IFD) told RT on
Human rights watchdogs want proof that 340 housing units, destroyed in Gaza, were actually used for military purposes.
"Unless the Israeli authorities can provide specific information
to show how a home is being used to make an effective contribution to
military actions, deliberately attacking civilian homes constitutes a
war crime and also amounts to collective punishment against the
families," said Amnesty's Luther.