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Amnesty: Israel Committed 'War Crimes' During Recent Offensive

Among the list of alleged offenses are punitive home demolitions, which are considered 'collective punishments' barred under international law

Amnesty International is calling for Israeli authorities to be investigated for war crimes following recent attacks in the Gaza Strip that resulted in the deaths or injuries of dozens of people.

During an early May offensive, Israeli forces destroyed Palestinian homes, which Amnesty says was done without any military necessity, as a form of “collective punishment against the civilian population.”

Nine airstrikes using precision-guided bombs were launched into densely populated urban areas around 2 a.m., which led to the deaths of 10 Palestinian civilians and the injury of at least 20 others.

“It has been a month since the ceasefire agreement between Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups, but the suffering that these recurrent Israeli offensives inflict upon the civilian population in the Gaza Strip never ceases,” Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Regional Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“In our investigation, we heard vivid accounts of bombs obliterating homes, of fathers digging their little girls out from under rubble, of a teenager fatally injured as she lay in bed holding a teddy bear,” Morayef added. “More frightening than any of this is the near certainty that, unless perpetrators are held to account, these horrifying scenes will be repeated.”

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that it carried out the operation in accordance with its obligations under international law and made efforts to minimize harm to civilians, the BBC reported.

Israeli forces conducted the attacks as part of a five-day offensive targeting members and facilities of the Al-Quds Brigades (AQB), the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Receiving a large portion of its funding from Iran, the PIJ is devoted to the establishment of an Islamic state, as well as a return to pre-1948 borders for Palestine.

During the operations, Israeli forces reportedly destroyed 103 homes and damaged 2,943 other houses. Amnesty says that at least 1,244 Palestinians were displaced because of the offensive.

“That we have been documenting the same patterns of unlawful killings and destruction over and over again is an indictment of the international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable,” Morayef added. “Israel’s impunity for the war crimes it repeatedly commits against Palestinians, and for its cruel ongoing 16-year illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, emboldens further violations and makes injustice chronic.”

In a nine-page public statement issued on June 13, Amnesty said it was calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “investigate as possible war crimes the apparently unlawful killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces as well as the extensive destruction of Palestinian civilian homes and buildings during the military assault.”

Amnesty laid out a number of violations of international law by Israeli forces, including unlawful killings and the deliberate destruction of Palestinian homes.

The report from Amnesty was released one week after Israeli forces demolished the family home of a Palestinian prisoner named Eslam Froukh, who has been in custody since November 2022.

Froukh, 26, was arrested on suspicion of carrying out a bombing in Jerusalem the previous month.

Israeli forces stormed the town of Ramallah during a dawn raid, and blew up the four-story residential building where Farroukh’s parents and four sisters lived.

More than 100 vehicles were used in the convoy that stormed into Ramallah before midnight and proceeded to the old town to demolish Froukh’s home, according to news agency WAFA.

Exclusive footage obtained by Timcast shows the aftermath of the attack, which injured at least six people.

Following the demolition, protests and clashes with IDF forces broke out, resulting in a number of citizens being shot, including two journalists.

Two of Froukh’s family members provided statements to Timcast saying they will remain steadfast and rely on their faith to help them cope with the destruction of their family’s home.

“We are patient, no matter what they do to us, we are steadfast,” Zainab Froukh, the prisoner’s aunt, said during an interview, stating that nothing would “move us from this country.”

Froukh’s uncle described the demolition, saying they were removed from the house and watched Israeli forces raze the building.

The decades-old practice of punitive home demolitions are used by Israel — which leave innocent parents, siblings, spouses, and children homeless — as part of a wider strategy of deterrence. But, some security experts say that strategy is counterproductive and feeds the cycle of violence, rather than containing it, the Washington Post reported.

“It was revenge,” Froukh’s mother told the Post.

Amichai Cohen, senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and law professor at Ono Academic College, said research shows scant effectiveness of the measure.

“I find it hard to believe that there is unequivocal or dramatic, empirical evidence that would prove its deterrence,” Cohen said of the home demolition policy.

Collective punishment is a violation of international law and prohibited under the Geneva Conventions.

Human Rights Watch says that Israeli authorities use punitive home demolitions as “part of a policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.”

Following the most recent round of home demolitions, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh promised to “rebuild every house destroyed by the occupation,” Arab News reported.

“We will deal responsibly with the needs of families whose homes are demolished, and this is our responsibility towards our people,” he said.

Shtayyeh deemed the demolition of Frouk’s home a “heinous crime that turned a family overnight into a homeless family after demolishing its house. These collective punishments are an attempt by the occupation to break the morale of our people.”

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