Firing at populated areas in the Gaza Strip by IDF soldiers constitutes a violation of international law and a war crime, lawyers of Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – said Monday.
They demanded that the IDF halt any operation which might lead to the killing of civilians.
A letter sent by Attorney Fatma Alajou to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and Military Advocate General Brigadier-General Avihai Mandelblit, stated that "a super-principle in the humanitarian international law is the principle of distinguishing between fighters and civilians during war."
The letter contained harsh criticism against the IDF's operation in Gaza.
"According to the law, offensives must not be directed at civilians or civil targets. Another duty of the fighting side is constant caution in a bid to have pity on civilians, and the duty to select the weapons which will meet these rules."
The organization claimed that the weapons used in the Strip were inaccurate.
"Because artillery is a statistical weapon, i.e. inaccurate weapons which covers an extensive area, as the number of casualties proves, using it violates the aforementioned rules," the letter said.
Alajou noted that an international tribunal had ruled in the past that an offensive targeting civilians unintentionally would be considered an offensive targeting civilians intentionally.
"Circumstances showing that the harm caused to civilians was disproportional may be likened to intentionally harming civilians," the lawyer told Ynet.
According to Alajou, "The international law's norms are part of the Israeli law's norms. Violating the same basic rules of preventing intentional harm to a population, and definitely the killing of civilians, also constitute a criminal offense according to Israeli law."
Alajou stressed in her letter that "the recognition of the possibility of harming the civilian population was limited to certain cases only, as damage accompanying an attack on legitimate targets.
"This limited recognition was not aimed at permitting the intentional targeting of the civilian population," she said.