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HRW report alleges Israel airstrike on civilian apartment building is a war crime – JURIST

LawHRW report alleges Israel airstrike on civilian apartment building is a war crime - JURIST

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on Thursday alleged that an Israeli airstrike conducted on a civilian apartment building on October 31, 2023, is a war crime. The report calls the attack, which resulted in 106 civilian deaths, including 54 children, “among the deadliest single incidents for civilians” since Israeli’s ground invasion of Gaza.

HRW conducted its investigation between January and March 2024. The building that was bombed was a six-story apartment building named the Engineers’ Building. It was occupied by civilians with a grocery that had electricity. HRW spoke to witnesses of the attack and family members of the deceased. It had access to “satellite imagery, 35 photographs, and 45 videos of the attack’s aftermath, as well as other relevant photographs and videos on social media.” However, it was unable to investigate the site as Israel has “repeatedly denied Human Rights Watch requests to enter Gaza over the last 16 years.”

The report stated that the airstrike was unlawful as HRW’s investigation found no evidence that there were military targets in the building. Four munitions were dropped on the building. HRW stated that Israel has not provided any justification for the attack. According to the witnesses, no warnings were given by Israel for civilians to evacuate the building. Witnesses told HRW that children were playing football outside the entrance at the time of the attack, and many people were using electricity to charge their phones in the grocery store below.

HRW called for accountability for the alleged war crimes and civilian deaths throughout the conflict in Gaza, stressing that a large number of causalities have been Palestinian children. HRW stated that the ICC is conducting an investigation into the alleged war crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank from 2014 onward and urged governments to publicly support the ICC’s efforts in “delivering impartial justice.”

HRW also called for countries to cease the supply of arms to Israel to prevent their use for violation of laws of war. It stated that countries, notably the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Italy and Denmark, that continue to provide an unconditional supply of arms are “ignoring the mounting evidence of serious violations, including the strike on the Engineers’ Building.”

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