Amnesty seeks war crimes probe into three Israel strikes

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special session to vote on a new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021. [AFP]

Amnesty International on Monday urged the International Criminal Court to investigate as war crimes three recent Israeli strikes that killed 44 Palestinian civilians, including 32 children.

Last week the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, applied for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top Hamas leaders on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Amnesty said three Israeli strikes one on the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza on April 16, and two on Rafah in southern Gaza on April 19 and 20 are "further evidence of a broader pattern of war crimes" committed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

"The cases documented here illustrate a clear pattern of attacks over the past seven months in which the Israeli military has flouted international law, killing Palestinian civilians with total impunity and displaying a callous disregard for human lives," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, senior director at Amnesty.

The rights organisation has conducted its own investigation into the strikes, interviewing 17 survivors and witnesses and visiting a hospital where the wounded were being treated.

On April 16, an Israeli air strike on al-Maghazi refugee camp killed 10 children aged four to 15, and five men, the rights group said, adding that more than a dozen residents were wounded.

"The munition landed in the middle of a market street where children were playing around a foosball table," Amnesty said.

Two of Jaber Nader Abu Jayab's children were killed.

"I found my sister's son, Mohammed (age 12). He was badly injured and died two days later," the 34-year-old told Amnesty.

"Then I found my daughter Mila," aged four, he said.

"She was badly injured and was taken to the hospital, but when I went to the hospital about an hour later, I found that she had died shortly after."

"Then I saw my daughter Lujan, she was dead," he said of the nine-year-old.

‘Body parts of my children'

In Rafah, two strikes in two days killed 29 civilians, the rights group said.

On April 19, an Israel-launched bomb struck the home of the Abu Radwan family in West Rafah, killing nine members of the family including six children, Amnesty said.

On April 20, a strike destroyed the Abdelal family home in eastern Rafah, killing 20 family members including 16 children, the rights group said.

"The victims were asleep," Amnesty said.

Hussein Abdelal, the owner of the house, lost his mother, two wives and 10 of his children, aged from 18 months to 16 years.

"I keep looking in the rubble for whatever I can find from my mother and my children. Their bodies were torn to shreds," he told Amnesty.

"I found shreds, body parts of my children, I found them without heads."

Amnesty said the damage to the Abdelal home was consistent with an air strike.

In all three cases, Amnesty did not find any evidence that there had been any military targets in or around the locations targeted by Israeli forces.

The war in Gaza broke out after Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

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