HRW: Hamas rocket attacks a 'war crime'
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
The international watchdog organization, Human Rights Watch, came out with an unusually scathing attack against Hamas on Thursday, accusing the Islamic group of violating international law and committing war crimes for its indiscriminate rocket fire into Israeli territory.
"None of these rockets can be reliably aimed," the report stated. "Such weapons are inherently indiscriminate when directed towards densely populated areas.
"The absence of Israeli military forces in the areas struck by the rockets, as well as statements from the leaders of Hamas and other armed groups, indicate that many of these attacks are deliberately intended to strike Israeli civilians and civilian structures," the report continued. "Individuals who willfully authorize or carry out deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians are committing war crimes."
The Rights group also targeted Hamas justification for their rocket attacks, saying that such arguments cannot be supported by international law.
"To justify the attacks as appropriate reprisals for Israeli military operations and the ongoing blockade against Gaza, and as a lawful response to the Israeli occupation of Gaza…the "laws of war" do not support these asserted justifications," the report stated.
While previous reports published by the organization have condemned Israeli abuses and "war crimes" against the Palestinians, the group emphasized in the most recent publication that such behavior cannot warrant reciprocal Palestinian action.
"Even assuming the rocket attacks were intended as reprisals for Israeli attacks that killed and injured civilians, they still are unlawful under the laws of war," the group said.
Israel has long placed the responsibility for Palestinian deaths in the Gaza Strip on Hamas, saying that the group's use of the civilian population and residential areas when launching attacks puts non-combatants in harms way. In their latest report, Human Rights Watch seemed to support that claim.
"The rocket attacks have also placed civilians in Gaza at risk," it stated. "They're unreliable, and occasionally fall short of Israel and kill Palestinians.
"Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have frequently violated the laws of war by firing rockets from within populated areas," the report went on. "In doing so, they failed to take all feasible precautions to avoid placing military targets within densely populated areas […] and protecting civilians from the danger resulting from military operations."