Demand for Israel to investigate civilian losses in Gaza attacks
Israel should investigate recent attacks on Gaza causing civilian casualties and take all necessary steps to avoid civilian harm, Human Rights Watch said today. Israeli attacks in 2011 have killed two and injured 34 civilians, according to United Nations figures. Israeli forces in February have conducted air and artillery attacks against Gaza that raise laws-of-war concerns, in some cases in response to Palestinian rocket attacks. An Israeli artillery attack on February 23, 2011, in apparent retaliation for an attack by the Al-Qassam Brigades on a group of Israeli tanks inside Gaza's border area, killed one Palestinian fighter and injured approximately 10 civilians, including three children, according to reports by news media and nongovernmental organizations. "Israel needs to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties even when attacking military targets," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "When so many Palestinian civilians get wounded in Israeli attacks, Israel should find out why." On February 9, Israeli airstrikes destroyed a medical warehouse in Jabalya operated by Hamas's Ministry of Health that stored medicines and medical equipment. The attack also damaged an adjacent carpentry warehouse. A spokesman for Gaza's emergency services said the strike injured eight civilians, including two women and three children who were evacuated to Gaza's Kamal Adwan hospital. Israeli military spokesmen described the strike as part of a series of attacks on "terrorist" targets but did not explain what made the medical warehouse a legitimate military target.