American human rights organization, Human Rights Watch accused both Hamas and Fatah of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip in a report published Wednesday morning.
“These attacks by both Hamas and Fatah constitute brutal assaults on the most fundamental humanitarian principles,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch.
“The murder of civilians not engaged in hostilities and the willful killing of captives are war crimes, pure and simple.”
The report covered incidents involving both organizations in which innocents have been killed over the past three days, including the capture and execution of men not involved in hostilities, the storming of individuals' homes and battles in and around two Gaza hospitals, that amounted in the killing of patients, one reportedly shot at close range.
According to Human Rights Watch, all parties engaged in armed conflict are subject to international humanitarian law, which forbids deliberate harming of civilians and those who are not engaged in armed hostilities at the time.
Under international humanitarian law, all medical personnel and facilities are granted special protection, and military and civilian hospitals and medical units must be protected and respected in all circumstances.
The report also addressed the June 9 incident, in which four gunmen, from the al-Quds Brigades - the military wing of Islamic Jihad - and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - Fatah's military wing, used a vehicle marked with "TV" insignia to break through Israel's border fortifications around Gaza in a possible attempt to kidnap an Israeli soldier.
“Using a vehicle with press markings to carry out a military attack is a serious violation of the laws of war, and it also puts journalists at risk,” said Whitson.
The Palestinian Journalists Union on Sunday criticized the use by armed factions of press insignia in a statement: “The use of vehicles that carry ‘Press,’ ‘TV’ or other signs ... exposes journalists’ lives to danger, gives the Israeli occupation a pretext to target and kill journalists and restricts their ability to perform their professional and national duties. … We demand all parties stop using these methods.”