Amnesty International, Feb. 23, 2009
With fragile ceasefires now in place in Gaza and southern Israel, the full extent of the devastation caused in recent weeks is becoming increasingly clear. Amnesty International researchers visiting Gaza and southern Israel during and after the fighting found evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international law by all parties to the conflict.
In the three weeks following the start of the Israeli military offensive on 27 December, Israeli forces killed more than 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 300 children and many other civilians, and injured over 5,000 other Palestinians, again including many civilians. Israeli forces also destroyed thousands of homes and other property and caused significant damage to the infrastructure of Gaza, causing a worsening of the humanitarian crisis arising from the 18-month blockade maintained by Israel. Some of the Israeli bombardments and other attacks were directed at civilians or civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip; others were disproportionate or indiscriminate. Amnesty International has found indisputable evidence that Israeli forces used white phosphorus, which has a highly incendiary effect, in densely populated residential areas in Gaza, putting the Palestinian civilian population at high risk. Israeli forces’ use of artillery and other non-precision weapons in densely-populated residential areas increased the risk, and the harm done, to the civilian population.
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