A U.N. report on Monday found both the Israeli Defense Force and Hamas possibly committed war crimes in Gaza in last summer’s conflict.
The investigation found that Israel knowingly endangered and killed civilians in air strikes on residential buildings.
“We must remember that victims are not just numbers or collateral damage — that unfortunate word. They are individual people with human rights,” Mary McGowan Davis, the American judge who led the investigation.
Israel killed approximately 2,200 Palestinian, 1,462 of which were civilians during the conflict. On the other side, 64 Israeli soldiers were killed, and six Israeli civilians.
According to international rules governing war, civilian homes are protected unless they are found to be used for military purposes. Israel, for its part, says it only struck legitimate targets.
The U.N. Human Rights Council says that Israel often struck homes early in the morning, or late in the evening, as families were sitting down to eat during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“[Israel] may not have done everything feasible to avoid or limit civilian casualties,” said the U.N. Report. In its assessment of the Israeli air strikes, the report said that they “could be disproportionate and therefore amount to a war crime.”
The report has been coldly received in Israel, which has had a strained relationship with the U.N. in recent years.
“Israel does not commit war crimes. Israel defends itself against a terrorist organization that calls for its destruction and carries out many war crimes,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, accusing the U.N. Human Rights Council of being “notoriously biased.”
The U.N. report was also harsh to Hamas.
Hamas fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars toward Israel, killing six civilians, including Daniel Tregerman, a four-year-old boy struck by a mortar while playing at home.
The U.N. stated that the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel was designed to strike terror into the population and “may amount to a war crime.”
[AP] [BBC] [Photo courtesy The Guardian]