Human rights group accuses Israel in killings

May 9, 2013 at 6:45 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, May 9 (UPI) -- Of the 172 Palestinians killed in last year's Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, at least 87 weren't involved in hostilities, a report found.

B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that monitors Israel's actions in the Palestinian territories, issued a 30-page report Wednesday concerning Operation Pillar of Defense, an Israeli military offensive in Gaza in November designed to attack militants' infrastructure.

The Israeli army maintains that during the 8-day operation about 1,500 targets, including rocket launching sites, smuggling tunnels and weapons storage facilities, were attacked, the report said. During this period B'Tselem maintains 172 Palestinians were killed, including at least 87 people who didn't participate in hostilities. Also, 31 of those killed were minors, the organization said.

Two Israeli soldiers and four civilians were killed, the report noted. Palestinian militants fired more than 1,660 rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel.

The report maintained that the majority of Palestinian civilians were killed in the last four days of the operation and cited nine incidents.

Israeli army Lt. Col. Ron Hirsch, the army's advocate for operational affairs, responded to the allegations by noting that after further investigation of the nine incidents by the army, no criminal offenses or suspicion of breaching of the Laws of Armed Conflict by the army were found.

"Due to the findings the military advocate general ordered the closure of the files of complaints relating to these events," the army statement said.

B'Tselem said, while damage on the ground during the operation and the harming of civilians wasn't as extensive as a 2008 Israeli operation in Gaza, both Israel and Hamas violated international humanitarian laws.

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