Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups likely perpetrated war crimes during Tel Aviv’s pre-emptive offensive targeting Islamic Jihad in Gaza during August, according to a new report by Amnesty International. Like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty’s analysis suggests a moral parity between the violence used by Israel to subjugate Palestinians, on the one hand, and the violence used by Palestinians to resist foreign domination, on the other. It is an untenable position borne of a framework that isn’t based on an analysis of settler-colonialism.
The London-based human rights group, citing UN figures, states that 49 Palestinians were killed during the offensive. Based on its research, Amnesty determined that “33 Palestinians, including 17 civilians, were killed by Israeli forces.” Of the remaining 16 fatalities, 14 were civilians and “in one case, an attack that killed seven of these civilians … was most likely to have been caused by a rocket launched by a Palestinian armed group that misfired,” according to Amnesty. Amnesty said that two Israeli attacks “must be investigated as possible war crimes because they appear to have deliberately targeted civilians or civilian objects or to have been indiscriminate attacks.” Those attacks include a 5 August artillery strike on a home in Khan Younis, killing 22-year-old artist Duniana al-Amour.
Israel used a “highly accurate” tank round in that strike against the home, where the nearest conceivable military target was well out of range. “Amnesty International believes that the al-Amour family’s house was the intended target of the attack,” the group states in its report. The other attack that Amnesty said should be investigated as a war crime is the 7 August missile strike on al-Falluja cemetery in Jabaliya, killing five children and seriously injuring another. Like in the case of the strike that killed al-Amour, there was no known military target in the area. Unnamed Israeli military sources told media that an internal probe indicated that Palestinian groups were not firing rockets at the time of the attack.