A Palestinian woman is distraught as she stands near the bodies of numerous children killed in Israeli attacks.

A Palestinian woman reacts as family members and hospital staff stand around the bodies of seven children from the Bakri, Omran, and Abu Naja families, killed in Israeli airstrikes on Khan Yunis and Rafah, Gaza on October 19, 2023.

(Photo: Ahmed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)

Amnesty Probe Finds 'Damning Evidence of War Crimes' by Israel in Gaza

"Our entire family has been destroyed," said one survivor of an Israeli bombing in the besieged Palestinian territory.

As Israel's assault on Gaza continued Friday with 4,100 Palestinians—including over 1,600 children—killed and at least 13,000 others wounded by relentless bombardment that's destroyed or damaged nearly a third of the besieged strip's homes, Amnesty International shared "damning evidence of war crimes as Israeli attacks wipe out entire families."

Amnesty interviewed survivors and eyewitnesses, analyzed satellite imagery, and verified photos and videos to investigate the Israeli aerial bombardments of Gaza, documenting "unlawful Israeli attacks, including indiscriminate attacks, which caused mass civilian casualties and must be investigated as war crimes."

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty's secretary-general, said in a statement: "In their stated intent to use all means to destroy Hamas, Israeli forces have shown a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They have pulverized street after street of residential buildings killing civilians on a mass scale and destroying essential infrastructure, while new restrictions mean Gaza is fast running out of water, medicine, fuel, and electricity."

"Testimonies from eyewitnesses and survivors highlighted, again and again, how Israeli attacks decimated Palestinian families, causing such destruction that surviving relatives have little but rubble to remember their loved ones by," she added.

Amnesty's report focused on five specific incidents the group said amount to war crimes, including the October 7 bombing of a three-story residential building in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City that killed 15 members of the al-Dos family, including seven children.

"Two bombs fell suddenly on top of the building and destroyed it," said Mohammad al-Dos, whose 5-year-old son Rakan was killed in the attack. "My wife and I were lucky to survive because we were staying on the top floor. She was nine months pregnant and gave birth at al-Shifa Hospital a day after the attack. Our entire family has been destroyed."

The report also details an airstrike on the Gaza City home of the Hijazi family that killed 12 relatives, including three children, as well as four neighbors. Amnesty found no evidence of any military targets in the area at the time of the attack.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 50 entire families have been removed from the civil registry after most or all of their members were killed in Israeli attacks.

"The five cases presented barely scratch the surface of the horror that Amnesty has documented and illustrate the devastating impact that Israel's aerial bombardments are having on people in Gaza," Callamard said. "For 16 years, Israel's illegal blockade has made Gaza the world's biggest open-air prison—the international community must act now to prevent it becoming a giant graveyard."

"We are calling on Israeli forces to immediately end unlawful attacks in Gaza and ensure that they take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects," she added. "Israel's allies must immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo given that serious violations under international law are being committed."

Other possible war crimes perpetrated by Israeli forces not specifically covered in the Amnesty report include but are not limited to collective punishment; an order to evacuate more than 1.1 million people from northern Gaza ahead of an expected ground invasion; Israel's stated focus on "damage and not accuracy" in its war on Hamas; bombing a civilian convoy heeding the evacuation order that killed around 70 people on a route Israeli authorities said was "safe"; use of white phosphorus munitions in a densely populated area; bombing schools and civilian shelters; and deadly attacks by Israeli settlers and soldiers on West Bank Palestinians.

Amnesty also said that Hamas and other Palestinian militants have committed war crimes including the deliberate killing of 1,400 Israelis—most of them civilians—during last week's surprise attack on Israel, the taking of around 200 Israeli and international hostages during the incursion, and the indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilian targets.

"Amnesty International is calling on Hamas and other armed groups to urgently release all civilian hostages, and to immediately stop firing indiscriminate rockets," said Callamard. "There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians under any circumstances."

The Amnesty analysis came amid reports of possible fresh Israeli war crimes, including an airstrike on the Church of Saint Porphyrius, an 873-year-old Christian Orthodox house of worship crowded with people seeking shelter from the bombing. Officials said at least 18 people were killed in the attack, including numerous children.

The Palestinian Health Ministry also said Friday that at least 13 people including seven children were killed during a Thursday raid by around 200 Israeli troops on the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem in the northern part of the illegally occupied West Bank.

Many Palestinians have compared the mass killing and displacement they're experiencing today with the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Arabs—often by massacre or threat thereof—from Palestine during the establishment of the modern state of Israel 75 years ago.

Others—including hundreds of international legal scholars—have signed a public statement arguing that the Israeli military may be committing genocidal acts against Palestinians. Raz Segal, an Israeli Holocaust scholar, said earlier this week that Israel is committing "a textbook case of genocide" in Gaza.

Numerous Israeli leaders and U.S. supporters of Israel have been accused of using genocidal language while advocating for the destruction of Gaza and its people.

"We are sounding the alarm: There is an ongoing campaign by Israel resulting in crimes against humanity in Gaza," a group of United Nations humanitarian experts said on Thursday. "Considering statements made by Israeli political leaders and their allies, accompanied by military action in Gaza and escalation of arrests and killing in the West Bank, there is also a risk of genocide against the Palestinian people."

Earlier this week, lawyers with the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights warned that the Biden administration is rendering itself complicit in possible genocide against Palestinians by providing weapons, political support, and diplomatic cover for Israel's war.

On Wednesday, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning violence against civilians in Israel and Gaza and calling for "humanitarian pauses" to allow aid to enter the enclave.

At least 18 progressive U.S. lawmakers, meanwhile, have endorsed a congressional resolution urging President Joe Biden to push Israel to pursue a cease-fire in Gaza.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday demanded an "immediate humanitarian cease-fire" to allow aid into Gaza. A U.S.-brokered deal to allow 20 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt was announced late Wednesday, but the aid remains stranded at the Egyptian border.

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