Israeli soldiers murdered unarmed Palestinian women and children who were waving white flags during its war on the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday, August 13, urging a swift investigation into the war crimes.
“Israeli soldiers unlawfully shot and killed 11 Palestinian civilians, including five women and four children, who were in groups waving white flags to convey their civilian status,” the international rights group said in a new report obtained by IslamOnline.net.
The report is based on field investigations, including ballistic evidence found at the killing sites, medical records of victims and lengthy interviews with eyewitnesses.
Israel has earlier admitted five white flag incidents but blamed that on Hamas fighters allegedly using civilians as human shields.
"In the killings documented in this report, HRW found no evidence that the civilian victims were used by Palestinian fighters as human shields or were shot in the crossfire between opposing forces," insisted the new report.
“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 63-page HRW report noted that in each of the white flag cases, people were "in plain view and posed no apparent security threat” when they were shot.
"Israeli forces appeared in control, and Palestinian fighters had left the area in question."
More than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 300 children and 115 women, were killed in 22 days of Israeli air, land and see attacks between December of last year and January of this year.
In Cold Blood
In one case, Iman al-Najjar saw her sister Rawiya get killed with a bullet shot directly to her head.
"Rawiya took a white flag with a group of women. When she reached the corner they fired at her immediately," Iman recalls.
"She was hit in the head and fell even though she was holding a white flag."
Souad Abed Rabbo, 54, witnessed the killing of her granddaughters, aged two and seven.
“We spent seven to nine minutes waving the flags, and our faces were looking at them," she remembers vividly.
"And suddenly they opened fire and the girls fell to the ground."
Souad’s third granddaughter, now aged four, was left paralyzed below the waist.
A recent booklet that collected Israeli soldiers’ testimonies revealed that the army had given the troops directives not to consider any Gazan as innocent.
The testimonies also quoted soldiers admitting firing at Gaza civilians out of frustration or boredom.
Joe Stork, HRW Middle East deputy director, asserted that Israel has long acted with impunity over the killing of Palestinian innocents.
“The Israel Defense Forces have for years permitted a pervasive culture of impunity regarding unlawful Palestinian deaths."
But Stork insisted that the Gaza white flag deaths deserve international prosecutions for those responsible.
“Under the laws of war, individuals who carry out or order deliberate attacks on civilians are responsible for war crimes.”