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Rights group B'Tselem questions Israel's actions in Gaza war
Wednesday January 28, 2015 4:58 PM, IANS

Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has raised serious questions about the legality of Israel's policy of targeting Palestinian homes during last year's war in Gaza that claimed hundreds of lives, a media report said Wednesday.

Israeli strikes on residences led to the deaths of 606 people, including 93 children under the age of five, in 70 attacks that B'Tselem examined, The Guardian quoted the rights group as saying in a report.

Earlier this month, an initial investigation by the International Criminal Court was announced to look into whether war crimes were committed in Gaza.

The issue is also being investigated by the UN Human Rights Council, by a commission of inquiry set up by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and by Israeli State Comptroller Joseph Shapira.

The Israeli military's system of warning Gaza's citizens of impending strikes during the conflict has also been criticised for its ineffectiveness.

The latest claims go deeper than whether or not individual soldiers acted improperly, taking aim instead at Israeli ministers including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who approved the policy of attacking homes.

"This is something we had not seen in previous rounds of violence in Gaza," said Hagai El-Ad, B'Tselem's executive director.

"[Israel] should have been aware this high civilian death toll would be the outcome of this policy. And if not on day one, then certainly by day 12. Yet the policy continued until the end of the violence."

The Israeli military rejected the report in a statement released Wednesday morning.

"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) does not attack residential buildings in Gaza -- but rather military targets that are often located within residential buildings. The IDF categorically rejects the assertion of a policy of deliberately attacking residential homes solely on the basis that they were residences belonging to members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad," the statement said.


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