Palestinian armed groups repeatedly launched indiscriminate rockets and mortars towards civilian areas in Israel during the 2014 Gaza conflict, a new report by Amnesty International has claimed.
Entitled ‘Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza / Israel conflict,’ the report provides evidence that several attacks launched from inside the Gaza Strip amount to war crimes.
According to the report, the deadliest incident caused by a Palestinian attack killed six Israeli citizens, including a four-year-old boy.
In addition, a projectile fired from within the Gaza Strip landed next to a supermarket near the al-Shati refugee camp, killing 13 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa programme director Philip Luther said: "In launching these attacks, they displayed a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and for the consequences of their violations on civilians in both Israel and the Gaza Strip."
The report alleges that Palestinian armed groups used unguided projectiles that are banned under international law and mortars that should never be used to attack military targets located in or near civilian areas.
According to UN data, more than 4,800 rockets and 1,700 mortars were fired from Gaza towards Israel, 224 of these are estimated to have struck Israeli residential areas, while several others were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.
Meanwhile, the Israeli attacks in Gaza are claimed to have killed 1,585 Palestinian civilians, including more than 530 children, and destroyed at least 16,245 homes during the conflict, a number of these attacks also amounted to war crimes.
Luther said: "The devastating impact of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians during the conflict is undeniable, but violations by one side in a conflict can never justify violations by their opponents.
"The fact that Palestinian armed groups appear to have carried out war crimes by firing indiscriminate rockets and mortars does not absolve the Israeli forces from their obligations under international humanitarian law.
"The war wrought an unprecedented level of death, destruction and injury on the 1.8 million people in the Gaza Strip, and some of the Israeli attacks must be investigated as war crimes."
The watchdog is urging all parties to support the UN Commission of Inquiry and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over crimes committed by all parties to the conflict.
Image: Picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot shows rockets being fired from the Gaza strip into Israel. Photo: copyright Jack Guezi/AFP/Getty Images.