Israel killing Gaza civilians in strikes with no military objective: report

Israel killing Gaza civilians in strikes with no military objective: report
Amnesty International's investigation analysed four Israeli air strikes that killed dozens of civilians sheltering in the enclave's south.
3 min read
13 February, 2024
Israel's war on Gaza has killed 28,340 Palestinians according to figures from Gaza's health authorities [Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

Israeli strikes that killed dozens of civilians in Gaza had no legitimate military objectives, an investigation by Amnesty International has found.

Amnesty's report details how 95 civilians, including 42 children, were killed across four separate strikes — three in December and one in January — in Rafah. Israel had previously designated the southern border city as a safe zone, causing around 1.5 million Palestinians to seek shelter there.

As part of the investigation, Amnesty went to the sites of the strikes, received witness testimony, and analysed satellite imagery in order to determine whether the strikes lawful.

It also analysed the Israel's war diary published by the military, finding no reference to the strikes.

Amnesty International's Senior Director of Research, Advocacy, Policy and Campaigns Erika Guevara-Rosas said the strikes killed whole families who sought refuge from Israel's military campaign.

 "These attacks illustrate an ongoing pattern of Israeli forces brazenly flouting international law, contradicting claims by Israeli authorities that their forces are taking heightened precautions to minimize harm to civilians," Guevara-Rosas said.

Amnesty assessed Israeli strikes on four families which killed dozens of people. The strike on the Harb family killed 25 civilians, the strike on the Shehada family killed 30 civilians, the strike on the Zu'rub family killed 22 civilians, and the attack on the Nofal family killed 18 civilians.

In all of these strikes, Amnesty found no evidence that military targets were present, neither inside nor near the buildings. This has increased concerns that Israel is deliberately attacking civilians.

Moreover, in the strike against the Nofal family, the munition used was likely a US produced GBU-39 Small Diameter bomb, indicating the targeted nature of the attack that destroyed the top floor of the building hosting the family.

Guevara-Rosas said that "in light of the appalling scale of death and destruction, all states have a clear obligation to act to prevent genocide yet instead key states have failed to make a clear call for a ceasefire and are continuing to fuel war crimes by supplying arms to Israel".

Her words follow concerns that the US has implicitly green lit an Israeli assault on Rafah, where over 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge.

The White House said in a statement that Israel should not assault Rafah "without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there", however has not taken further steps to halt the onslaught, including halting military aid.

The US has been a staunch support of Israel during its war on Gaza, which has killed 28,473 Palestinians and wounded a further 67,984 according to Gaza's health authorities.