Human Rights Watch has accused the Palestinian Hamas movement of war crime, saying its rocket attacks against Israel are ‘unlawful and unjustifiable’.
"Hamas forces violated the laws of war both by firing rockets deliberately and indiscriminately at Israeli cities and by launching them from populated areas and endangering Gazan civilians," said HRW program director Iain Levine.
In its 31-page report published on Thursday, the New York-based watchdog looked into the projectiles launched by Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups since November 2008.
The report explains the homemade Qassam and Soviet-designed Grad rockets used by the Palestinians cannot be aimed with any reliability and are thus counted as indiscriminate when used against targets in densely populated areas.
Levine urged Hamas — which runs the Gaza Strip — to ‘publicly renounce rocket attacks on Israeli civilian centers and punish those responsible’.
HRW recalled numerous documented violations of the laws of war by Israeli forces during the 23-day Gaza War, but stressed that ‘violations by one party to a conflict never justify violations by the other’.
This is while the Israeli military is conducting 15 criminal probes into its troops’ conduct during the offensive, including allegations of using children as human shields.
The Israeli government insists the troops ‘pursued legitimate objectives with appropriate precautions’ in an offensive that claimed more than 1400 Palestinians with civilians — especially women and children — accounting for a large part of the toll.
The Palestinian rocket attacks have killed three Israelis and wounded dozens since November 2008.