Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of Gaza war crimes

(JTA) — Human Rights Watch accused Israel of committing war crimes during the recent Gaza conflict.

In a report released Friday, Human Rights Watch said that Israel “violated the laws of war” when an airstrike hit the home of the Daloo family in Gaza City on Nov. 18, killing 10 family members and two other civilians. 

One of the casualties was Mohamed Jamal al-Dalu, 29, an officer in Gaza’s Hamas-controlled police corps.

Initial reports from the Israeli army spokesperson said the strike’s target was Yahia Abayah, a Hamas officer. Israel’s army later said the attack targeted an unspecified “terror activist.”

Human Rights Watch says Israel’s attack was unlawful because of the large number of civilians killed.

“Even if al-Dalu … was a legitimate military target under the laws of war, the likelihood that the attack on a civilian home would have killed large numbers of civilians made it unlawfully disproportionate," Human Rights Watch said in its report.

Israel and some pro-Israel groups have accused Human Rights Watch of pursuing an anti-Israel agenda. The organization, in turn, has accused Israel of mounting a campaign meant to discredit the group.

The Israeli army said in a statement that it worked to minimize noncombatant casualties, and civilians were never a target. The army blamed militants for using civilian buildings as hideouts.

Human Rights Watch has said that last month’s eight-day war "involved unlawful attacks on civilians by both sides." It reported 103 Palestinian and four Israeli civilians as being killed in the fighting.

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