A rocket salvo that killed 11 Gazan children and hit a hospital on a Muslim religious holiday was the work of Palestinian militants hitting their own people, a report has found, in a damning indictment of Hamas’s conduct during last summer’s war with Israel.
The explosion at the Al-Shati refugee camp on July 28, which killed the children buying sweets on the first day of Eid ul Fitr, was the result of misfired rockets by Hamas, Amnesty International concluded.
Hamas blamed Israel for the bombing at the time, but a relation of one of dead child said that Palestinian militants went to the scene and tried to hide the evidence of their involvement.
“I saw the body of the rocket [and] I knew it was a local one,” the family member told The Times. “Some people came and hid it on the spot – however, it was really hot.”
He said that he held Hamas, as governors of Gaza, responsible but that no one from the group had ever visited the family or apologised. Two adults also died and another 19 were injured.
The piecing together of one of the worst incidents of the war was done by independent ballistics experts working for Amnesty. They concluded from photos of blast damage and surviving parts of the missile that the strike was by a Palestinian rocket which fell short. Another rocket from the same salvo struck the Shifa hospital, the report found. No patients were injured.
Amnesty said that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups were responsible for 4,800 rocket attacks and 1,700 mortar strikes during the 50-day conflict, killing six Israeli civilians and 13 Palestinians.
Israel said 1,600 of its citizens were treated for injuries related to the attacks. The report found that Hamas hid munitions within civilian areas, including in UN schools, increasing the possibility that civilians would be killed.
Amnesty said that its report did not detract from claims that Israeli forces were responsible for “devastating” human rights violations, including war crimes, during its invasion.
The UN reported that 2,250 Palestinians died inside Gaza during the war, 1,585 of them civilians.
Dawood Shehab, an Islamic Jihad spokesman, denied the Amnesty claims and called the report “totally biased towards Israel”. He added: “We never meant to target civilians.”
Israel said that it welcomed the report. However, a spokesman added: “We do not accept the implied equivalence which the report draws between Israel and an internationally recognised terror group which has repeatedly called for its annihilation.”
Israel’s military said this week that it was assessing 126 alleged human rights violations by its forces during the war.