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HRW: Gaza rocket attacks on Israel unlawful
Published Monday 24/12/2012 (updated) 25/12/2012 21:44
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Women pose as they hold models of rockets during a rally in Nablus,
marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas on Dec. 13.
(Reuters/Muammar Awad)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Palestinian militants violated the laws of war by launching rockets at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip during last month's fighting, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The New York-based group also said that militant organizations in the territory, which is ruled by Hamas, put Palestinian civilians in harm's way by firing the rockets from within densely populated areas.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed the charges: "This report is biased because it equates a nuclear-armed country using all means of aggression against civilians and a people subject to the occupation who are defending themselves against Israeli violations of international accords amid the silence of the international community," he said.

Israel launched an 8-day air offensive on Nov. 14 with the declared aim of ending persistent rocket fire on its territory.

Over 170 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the war. HRW said two of the Palestinian dead were apparently hit by rockets that fell short of their intended targets in Israel.

Six Israelis, including two soldiers, were killed in rocket strikes, the Israeli police and military said.

"Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim. There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas," HRW said in a report.

It said rocket crews fired from areas "near homes, businesses and a hotel, unnecessarily placing civilians in the vicinity at grave risk from Israeli counter-fire".

As the ruling authority in the Gaza Strip, Hamas should "stop unlawful attacks and punish those responsible," HRW said. "The laws of war prohibit reprisal attacks against civilians, regardless of unlawful attacks by the other side", it added.

In reports issued earlier this month, HRW said Israel had targeted journalists and killed 12 members of a single family in a strike on their home, violating the laws of war.

The Israeli military said in response to the HRW allegations that it "acts in accordance with the laws of armed conflict, despite the ongoing deliberate violations and abuse of these laws by the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip".
1 ) Andy / UK
24/12/2012 12:46
The HRW loses any credibility it had remaining with this preposterous attack on Hamas. Regarding both sides as equal is indeed a serious mistake and it has to be taken in to account that one side is reported to be the fourth strongest army in the world whilst the other is an ill equipped resistance movement. The HRW should campaign to the US government to supply both sides with state of the art precision weapons... And only then can it make a fair judgement on which side commits more crimes.

2 ) Arnold / Canada
24/12/2012 14:11
Finally HRW has shown some fairness is reporting.

3 ) Human Rights Watch is / a PHONEY ORGnization
24/12/2012 19:01

4 ) Amira / Canada
24/12/2012 21:04
"The laws of war prohibit reprisal attacks against civilians, regardless of unlawful attacks by the other side", it added. Settlers are not civilians. They are settlers, thieves who settles on Palestinian land and this is why settlements are illegal according to Internationl Law. Whitouth them there woud not be conflict. Settlements are the foundation of occupation and settlers are armed. Palestinians have the right to defend themselve against land thieves and their military protectors.

5 ) furtherproof / march8/syria.ps
24/12/2012 21:54
hrw and increasing AI are just tools of USA and Zionists.

6 ) gabi / australia
25/12/2012 02:04
And now get stuck into Israel for using phosphorus bombs, armoured tanks and helicopter gunships against civilians - their excuse that Hamas hides behind civilians so they are entitled to bomb the shit out of those civilians is vile. The civilians can't do much to escape the bombs. At least the Israelis have bomb shelters.

7 ) A Real Leader / كل فلسطين
25/12/2012 18:18
Israel is the terrorist who blatantly tagets homes & murders women & children all the time- and not to mention invades with tanks & fires on homes & schools. HRW must not be paying attention & only listening to the Zionist lies- so their statement is irrelevant.

8 ) ian / australia
26/12/2012 04:36
It's hard to see how, in the real world, a resistance movement like Hamas (and hot-headed factions) can ACT within what HRW calls lawful. The "rockets" are hugely inaccurate and hit what they hit, mostly nothing (though three people were killed in an incredible "fluke" shot)...and Gaza is ALL "densely populated" so it's hard not to risk civilians firing them. (As Israel's ACTUAL mission is to traumatise the civilian population, as opposed to the FAKE mission to stop the rockets, it's pretty

9 ) ian / australia
26/12/2012 04:38
(contd.) meaningless, and something of a myth, to charge Hamas with "endangering" them or using "human shields" or whatever.) So Israel is the monolithic, nuclear "Goliath" with all the hi-tech power and Hamas...David with a slingshot. But "resistance" IS lawful if a criminal assault is taking place, just like Israel's vaunted "right to defend itself"! And of course, if standards about what's lawful under the "laws of war" were applied EQUALLY to Hamas AND Israel, inc. Israel's record in the

10 ) ian / australia
26/12/2012 04:39
(contd.) West Bank under "laws of occupation", inc. evictions, demolitions, land theft, vandalism and violence...well, no Palestinian would object. In fact, bring it on.

11 ) Filipe / Portugal
27/12/2012 11:06
@ ian, None of this has to do with the WB. Hamas is the sole responsible party of what goes on in Gaza. Armed violence against civilians is not acceptable by any law of any kind anywhere. Israel's presence in the WB is per a signed agreement with the PLO, there's nothing illegal about it. It's only pundits like you who spew such nonsense. There has never been any instance adjudicated to find Israel's methods or presence illegal.

12 ) ian / australia
29/12/2012 20:35
#11 "None of this has to do with the WB." It's all Palestine and Hamas is a "resistance" organisation so what happens in the WB is their concern. "Armed violence against civilians is not acceptable by any law of any kind anywhere." That's true making Israel's appalling record of killing civilians (which is far worse than Hamas') illegal. "Israel's presence in the WB is per a signed agreement with the PLO, there's nothing illegal about it." Half true. Yes, Oslo is legal but surely null and void

13 ) ian / australia
29/12/2012 20:35
(contd.) given neither party remotely fulfilled obligations under it. (Final status talks were scheduled for 1996! Surely its use-by date is up.) More importantly, it didn't replace Geneva and laws governing occupation which still apply (no transfer of civilian populations, no destruction of existing stuff, or brutalisation of occupied people or denial of basic rights etc.) all of which Israel does. All of which is illegal. "There has never been any instance adjudicated to find Israel's methods

14 ) ian / australia
29/12/2012 20:36
(contd.) or presence illegal" Say what? UN Res 242: withdraw to '67 line. UNSC Res 252, 476, 478 (etc.): annexation of East Jerusalem "null and void", "must be rescinded", "no legal validity", "flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention". Also ICJ rulings. And so on. "It's only pundits like you who spew such nonsense." Filipe, can't honestly see how I've spewed any nonsense for the arguments given above which are ALL uncontroversial and widely accepted. Maybe other places, but not here.
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