JERUSALEM (JTA) – A human rights group blamed Israel for ending the cease-fire that began the military conflict in Gaza.
Amnesty International in its annual report also accused Israel of violating the rules of conflict. It said that the cease-fire broke down after Israeli forces killed six "Palestinian militants" in attacks on Nov. 4, 2008.
The report took Israel to task for the blockade imposed on Gaza and highlighted several Palestinians it said had died after being refused permission to leave the coastal strip for medical treatment.
The launch of the Gaza military offensive, the report stated, "brought conditions to the brink of human catastrophe."
The report did acknowledge that "Many killings of Palestinian civilians in the first half of the year and during the December military offensive were in response to indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks launched by Palestinian armed groups from the Gaza Strip against nearby Israeli towns and villages and against Israeli army positions along the perimeter of the Gaza Strip."
The report added that "Hundreds of other Palestinian civilians were killed and injured in the last five days of the year in the Israeli military offensive, some as a result of direct attacks on civilians or civilian buildings, others in indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks."
It also laid blame on Israel for detaining Palestinians for long periods of time, denying family visits to Palestinian prisoners from Gaza and the West Bank, torturing Palestinian prisoners and expanding West Bank settlements.