Human Right Watch: Hamas targeted Israeli civilians


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Human Rights Watch rejected a Hamas claim that the Palestinians did not target Israeli civilians with rockets during the Gaza war.

In a statement Thursday, the human rights group said there is strong evidence that "Hamas’ claim that rockets were intended to hit Israeli military targets and only accidentally harmed civilians is belied by the facts."

A Hamas commission investigated claims in the United Nations’ Goldstone report and will turn the report over to the United Nations before the Feb. 5 deadline set for responses, according to reports.

The Goldstone report found that both Israel and the Palestinians committed possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in last winter’s Gaza war. The report asked both sides to order independent probes.

Human Rights Watch said that Hamas deliberately targeted civilians with rockets during the Gaza war and restated that targeting civilians is a war crime, the French news agency AFP reported.

The Hamas report was obtained and reported by the Associated Press.

Hamas and other Palestinian groups fired more than 800 rockets into southern Israel during the three-week war; most hit civilian areas. Hamas also fired the rockets from civilian areas, which Human Rights Watch also called a war crime, according to the AP.

The United Nations has threatened to turn the cases over to international courts if the sides do not conduct independent investigations.

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