Israel committed “war crime” in Gaza

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s bombing of a power plant in the Gaza Strip this year was disproportionate and constituted a war crime under international law, an Israeli human rights group said on Wednesday.

Israeli war planes bombed and largely destroyed the power plant outside Gaza City on June 28, three days after Palestinian militants abducted an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid from Gaza. The soldier is still being held.

Israel said at the time that it bombed the plant to cut power supplies and therefore make it more difficult for militants to operate and to transfer the captured soldier.

The bombing cut off electricity to many of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents, affecting hospitals and food supplies, and had a knock-on impact on the water and sewage systems.

“The bombing of the power plant was illegal and defined as a war crime in international humanitarian law as the attack was aimed at a purely civilian object,” rights group B’Tselem said in a report entitled “Act of Vengeance”.

“Even if one adopts the doubtful claim that the attack provided some definite military advantage, it was disproportionate and Israel had other, less harmful alternatives.”

B’Tselem, an independent group that monitors Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its policies in Gaza, called on the Israeli government to open a criminal investigation into the bombing and prosecute those responsible for the attack.

It also called on the government to pay to rebuild the $150 million plant, an operation which is expected to take nearly a year.

The United Nations in July described the bombing of the 140-megawatt facility as a disproportionate use of force and said it had contributed to worsening humanitarian problems in the Gaza Strip.

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