The Israeli army is fighting Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, not Hamas, an Israeli human rights group said Wednesday.
B'Tselem cited an Israeli attack targeting Hamas member Wissam Farhat in Shejaiya neighborhood in Gaza City on Dec. 2.
“The strike killed dozens of people and destroyed scores of residential buildings. Hundreds of people are still buried under the rubble,” the rights group said.
“Given the outcome, there is no doubt the strike was unlawful. Every attack – even against a legitimate military target – must comply with the principle of proportionality, which requires an attack to be aborted if existing information indicates the expected harm to civilians outweighs the anticipated military advantage.”
B’Tselem said Israel claims it is doing everything in its power to avoid harming civilians and warning civilians to evacuate to areas it has designated as “safe”.
“Israel relies on two main arguments to justify the extensive criminal harm to civilians caused by its policy. Both arguments are unfounded and detached from international humanitarian law and from its objectives,” it said.
The rights group said that Israel assumes that no civilians are left in the areas it ordered evacuated.
“This claim has no foothold in reality. The fact is that many civilians have remained in their homes, either because they cannot reach southern Gaza for various reasons or because they choose not to leave,” B’Tselem said.
“Also, even if civilians had evacuated, this would not justify unlimited bombing of their homes, which are civilian targets – unless proven otherwise.”
Israel resumed its military offensive on the Palestinian territory on Friday after the end of a weeklong humanitarian pause with the Palestinian group Hamas.
“More than two million people are currently crowded into the southern Gaza Strip with nowhere else to go,” B’Tselem said.
“Continuing to implement this bombing policy will almost certainly result in the killing of thousands more civilians. In these circumstances, Israel must immediately stop implementing this policy, which is sowing more and more death and destruction, and worsening the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.”
There was no comment yet from the Israeli army on the B’Tselem’s report.
At least 16,248 Palestinians have been killed and more than 43,616 others injured in relentless air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 following a cross-border attack by Hamas.
The Israeli death toll in the Hamas attack stood at 1,200, according to official figures.