HomeTop StoriesDeadly Israeli attack on housing 'apparent war crime': Human Rights Watch

Deadly Israeli attack on housing ‘apparent war crime’: Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch said Thursday that an Israeli attack on an apartment building in Gaza City last October was an “apparent war crime,” citing no military motive behind the attack after a months-long investigation.

The October 31 attack killed at least 106 civilians, including 54 children, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its report.

The report “found no evidence of a military target in the vicinity of the building at the time of the Israeli attack, making the attack unlawfully indiscriminate under the laws of war,” the group said. “Israeli authorities have provided no justification for the attack.”

The findings come as the International Criminal Court continues its investigation into war crimes against Israel, including a claim of genocide against Palestinians brought by South Africa. The court did not rule on the genocide claim, but condemned the behavior of the Israeli army in the war.

According to the report, about 350 civilians were in and around the Engineers Building in Gaza City when four Israeli rockets struck it around 2:30 p.m. At least 150 of the people sought shelter after being displaced from other parts of the city by Israeli attacks.

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“None of the witnesses interviewed said they had received or heard a warning from Israeli authorities to evacuate the building before the attack,” the group said.

HRW confirmed the identities of at least 106 victims and noted that the overall death toll is likely higher. The dead included children playing football outside and residents charging phones in the first-floor supermarket, the report said.

“The fact that the building was hit four times strongly suggests that the munition was intended to hit the building and that the attack was not the result of a malfunction or misdirection,” HRW said. “Even the presence of a valid military target would raise questions about the disproportionate attack, given the visible and expected presence of large numbers of civilians in and around the building.”

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas since October 7, including more than 13,000 children.

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Months after the attack on the Engineer’s Building, most of Gaza City is in ruins after brutal Israeli airstrikes, and most people in northern Gaza have been forced to flee.

The organization called on Israel’s allies to stop arms sales and intelligence sharing with the Israeli military “as long as its forces commit systematic and widespread violations of the laws of war against Palestinian civilians with impunity.”

“The staggering number of Palestinian deaths, mostly women and children, shows a deadly disregard for civilian life and points to many more possible war crimes that need to be investigated,” said HRW Deputy Director Gerry Simpson. “Other governments must pressure the Israeli government to end unlawful attacks and immediately halt arms transfers to Israel to save civilian lives and prevent complicity in war crimes.”

The Israeli military rarely comments on specific attacks and has said it is doing everything it can to limit civilian casualties. The military generally blames Hamas for the civilian casualties, claiming the militant organization is nesting among civilians for protection.

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The Hill has contacted the Israeli military for comment. The military previously did not respond to requests for comment from HRW and The Associated Press.

The war crime finding comes after the Israeli military killed seven aid workers, including one American, in an airstrike on Monday, drawing international condemnation.

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