The Israeli embassy in London has accused Amnesty International of being a “propaganda tool” for Hamas after it issued a report on Israel’s conduct during the Gaza conflict.
The report examines “targeted Israeli attacks on inhabited civilian homes” by focusing on eight occasions in which 104 Palestinian civilians were killed.
Amnesty says Israel “failed to take necessary precautions to avoid excessive harm to civilians, as required by humanitarian law”.
The charity notes that Hamas “fired thousands of indiscriminate rockets into civilian areas of Israel” and says it has documented “serious violations of international humanitarian law… both by Israel and by Hamas”.
But the embassy said the report “does not mention the word terror” and “ignores the nature of the enemy in Gaza,” adding that it “fails to contribute” to the discussion about the conflict.
The report was produced after the 50-day battle known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, during which over 2,200 people died and more than 100,000 Palestinians were left homeless.
Amnesty says even when a family includes a member of an armed group “the loss of civilian lives, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects appears disproportionate i.e. out of proportion to the likely military advantage of carrying out the attack”.
Several Israel government and military investigations are underway into IDF operations during the Gaza conflict, but human rights groups like B’Tselem say none are independent.
The United Nations has set up its own investigation but Israel refuses to co-operate, saying UN Human Rights Council is “the terrorists’ rights council”.
Commenting on the missile strikes against homes, Amnesty notes “the lack of any explanation of what was being targeted” and says there is “significant doubt about whether a military objective was present”.
Concluding, it suggests the international community “ensure possible crimes, including war crimes, are subject to proper investigation”.
It adds that “those suspected of criminal responsibility [should be] brought to justice in fair trials, including through states exercising universal jurisdiction or through the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court”.
In its response, the embassy says: “The extreme bias of the report is best displayed in its recommendations: Hamas is not mentioned, while the report dismisses Israel’s security challenges.”
The report, it says, “ignores documented war crimes perpetrated by Hamas, including the use of human shields, as well as ammunition storage and firing at Israeli civilians from within schools, hospitals, mosques”.
In conclusion, the spokesperson says: “Amnesty should understand that producing a narrow, decontextualised report restricts its capability to advance positive change.”