A recent order given to IDF forces to fire shells closer to the homes of Gaza residents is illegal and should be rescinded, according to a High Court of Justice petition filed by six human rights groups Sunday.
"The order given to IDF forces to aim shells to a distances of only 100 meters (roughly 300 feet) from residents' homes harms the lives of civilians and places officers and soldiers at risk of committing war crimes," the petition charges.
Children hurt in IDF shelling (Photo: Reuters)
Earlier, the minimal safety range for IDF shelling was 300 meters (about 900 feet) from residential homes. However, according to the human rights groups, recently a new order was given that reduces the safety range.
In recent months, the IDF has been bombing northern Gaza Strip sites in an effort to neutralize Qassam rocket fire.
According to the six Israeli and Palestinian petitioners, the new order in fact constitutes the annulment of the protection given to residents in the face of IDF shelling.
"This is a decision that has a black flag hanging over it," the petitioners wrote, and noted that a Palestinian girl died and several family members were hurt in an IDF shelling last week made possible because of the new order.
"This constitutes genuine danger to the lives of residents in the Strip, but beyond that, it is also an order that could lead to many problems for soldiers who follow it," the petitioners warn. "This is an opening for accusations regarding war crimes."
Attorney Michael Sfarad, who represents the petitioners, said that the new order means "the IDF is playing Russian roulette with the lives of civilians in Gaza, while knowingly placing residents' homes in the range of the fire."
"The question of whether residents will be hurt or not, and even whole families, depends on variables the IDF has no control over," the attorney said.