US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of civilians in Gaza: Amnesty
Amnesty's found that the Israeli strikes had amounted to direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects, warranting an investigation into potential war crimes, the UK-based rights group said in a statement on Tuesday.
Distinctive fragments of the munitions were discovered in the rubble of destroyed homes in central Gaza following two separate strikes which killed 43 civilians, including 19 children, 14 women, and 10 men.
Survivors in both cases reported receiving no warning of the imminent strikes, the report said.
"The fact that US-made munitions are being used by the Israeli military in unlawful attacks with deadly consequences for civilians should be an urgent wake-up call to the Biden administration. The US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families," Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International's secretary-general, said.
"Two families have been decimated in these strikes, further proof that the Israeli military is responsible for unlawfully killing and injuring civilians in its bombardment of Gaza," Callamard said.
Amnesty stressed that the US and other governments urgently needed to stop the transfer of arms to Israel to prevent potential violations of international law.
"In the face of the unprecedented civilian death toll and scale of destruction in Gaza, the US and other governments must immediately stop transferring arms to Israel that more likely than not will be used to commit or heighten risks of violations of international law," Callamard said.
"To knowingly assist in violations is contrary to the obligation to ensure respect for international humanitarian law. A state that continues to supply arms being used to commit violations may share responsibility for these violations," she added.
The rights group urged attention to the obligation to ensure respect for international humanitarian law, highlighting that states which knowingly assisted Israel in its violations were contrary to this obligation.
The report also urged the US to adhere to its own laws and policies related to the transfer and sale of arms, emphasising the necessity of preventing arms transfers that may contribute to civilian harm or violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
Amnesty called for an investigation into the Israeli attacks as potential war crimes and reiterated its call for a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties involved in the conflict in Gaza and Israel.
The NGO urged the international community to take immediate action and called on the UN Security Council to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties involved in the conflict and expedite the investigation into war crimes committed by all parties.
In its report, Amnesty included testimonies from survivors of the attacks, who gave a harrowing account of the destruction and loss experienced by affected families.
Samaher Abu Mu’eileq, who survived the strike, told Amnesty International: "I had just left the house where my sisters-in-law and my nephews and nieces were sitting, a minute before the house was bombed.
"I walked downstairs and just as I was opening my front door, my brother’s house next door was bombed. I was thrown against the door by the force of the explosion and was injured in my face and neck. I can’t understand why the house was bombed. My sisters-in-law and their children and my stepmother were killed, all of them women and children… Others were injured. What is the reason for such crime against civilians?"
Samaher’s brother, Bakir Abu Mu’eileq, was working at the hospital close to the family home when the strike occurred. He told Amnesty International: "We are three brothers married to three sisters, living among ourselves, focused on our families and work and far from politics. We are doctors and scientists, and our focus is living a good life and building a good future for our children."
"We cannot understand why our homes were bombed. We have never had any problem previously. It is the same for our neighbours. There is nobody armed or political here. Our lives, our families, were destroyed completely, obliterated. Why?" he said.
"The bodies were reduced to shreds. We could only find pieces… Only five of the bodies were recovered more or less whole because they were thrown further away [from the blast site]. We are in shock. What future is there now for my surviving daughters? Why so much injustice? Why?"