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HRW calls for accountability after Gaza violence

Nov. 23, 2012 2:25 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 26, 2012 2:59 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Human Rights Watch on Friday urged Israel and Hamas to address the ongoing human rights abuses and impunity for violations of the laws of war, after a ceasefire deal ended eight days of deadly fighting.

"Israeli attacks on presumptively civilian structures, including media buildings, civilian government buildings and police stations, raise concerns that the laws of war were violated," a statement from the international rights group said.

"Civilian objects may not be attacked unless and for only such time as they are being used for military purposes."

Rockets launched by militant groups in Gaza, if they cannot distinguish civilian from military targets, or deliberately target civilians, are "serious violations of the laws of war," HRW added.

Human Rights Watch said it was investigating attacks by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups, and called for Israel and Gaza's allies to press for accountability.

"The United States, instead of shielding its Israeli ally from international pressure to end the virtual impunity for members of its armed forces, should press for real accountability," the group said.

"Hamas’s supporters, including Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, should press it to end attacks directed at Israeli civilians and to hold members of its forces accountable for abuses," the statement continued.

The ceasefire deal, which contains provisions to discuss easing the blockade in Gaza, is also an opportunity to remove Israeli restrictions on the population which break international law, it added.

"Influential governments have repeatedly abdicated their responsibility to address the abuses at the heart of successive conflicts between Israel and Hamas," deputy Mideast director Joe Stork said.
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