Israeli farmers to file 'war crimes' complaint over Gaza protest kites

Israeli farmers to file 'war crimes' complaint over Gaza protest kites
Israeli farmers accuse Hamas leaders of issuing "orders" to Palestinians to deliberately set fire to fields in southern Israel.
2 min read
03 September, 2018
Palestinians in Gaza see the kites and balloons as legitimate resistance against Israel's blockade [Getty]
A group of Israeli farmers filed a "war crimes" complaint at the International Criminal Court on Monday against Hamas over incendiary kites used in Gaza border protests.

The farmers want prosecutors to investigate leaders of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, for allegedly issuing "orders" to Palestinians to breach the territory's frontier with Israel and having supporters deliberately set fire to fields in southern Israel.

"What they are trying to do is to burn us, not just our fields. It's a war crime and a crime against humanity," farmer Ofer Lieberman told Israeli Army Radio ahead of his arrival at The Hague.

Since 30 March, Palestinians have demonstrated on the Gaza border against the stifling decade-old Israeli-Egypt blockade on the strip, and for their right to return to their homeland.

During the demonstrations, protesters have launched incendiary kites and balloons into Israel, sparking fires that have damaged forests, burned crops and killed livestock. 

Israel has responded with tank fire and sniper attacks, killing at least 171 Palestinians and wounding around 17,000 including children, medics and journalists.

During that time, one Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza shooter, sparking fierce retaliatory shelling on the impoverished enclave.

Israel says it is defending its border against attempts by Hamas to infiltrate and carry out attacks. But it has come under heavy international criticism over the large number of unarmed protesters who have been killed or maimed.

Human Rights Watch said in June that Israeli forces' repeated use of lethal force in the Gaza Strip against Palestinian demonstrators who posed no imminent threat to life may amount to war crimes.

In May, the UN Human Rights Council voted to send a team of international war crimes investigators to probe the deadly shootings.

The UN has previously warned that Gaza would be "unlivable" by 2020 if Israel does not halt the blockade.