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Israel violated ‘laws of war’ in Gaza, says Human Rights Watch

JTA

February 14, 2013 | 3:49 am

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on Nov. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on Nov. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Human Rights Watch said Israeli air strikes during the most recent Gaza Strip conflict "violated the laws of war."

Field investigations, which the group said were not comprehensive, found 14 instances in which Israeli unmanned drones or fixed wing aircraft hit areas "with no indication of a legitimate military target," and another four in which there were identifiable military targets but which "appeared to use indiscriminate means or caused disproportionate harm to civilians."

The air strikes killed "at least 43 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children," the group said.

Israel Radio quoted the Israeli military as saying it was investigating its attacks during the Nov. 14-21 conflict, which was precipitated by an intensification of Hamas rocket fire on southern Israel communities.

Human Rights Watch said it was releasing its findings now because past such investigations "were not conducted by trained military police investigators or dedicated to investigating alleged laws-of-war violation."

The group pointed out that it had previously reported that "Palestinian armed groups launched hundreds of inherently indiscriminate rockets against Israeli population centers in violation of the laws of war."

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