Gaza, Palestinian Territories
IN PHOTO: Smoke and sand are seen following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza August 21, 2014. Israel killed three senior Hamas commanders in an air strike on the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the clearest signal yet that Israel is intent on eliminating the group's military leadership after a failed attempt on the life of its top commander this week. Hamas, which dominates Gaza, named the men as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum and said they were killed in the bombing of a house in the southern town of Rafah. All three were described as senior Hamas military figures. Reuters/Ahmed Zakot

An infantry sergeant disclosed that anything seen inside Gaza is threat and their mission was to sterilise the strip and empty it of people so that if no one raised a white flag or screamed ‘I give up,’ the soldiers were authorised to open fire. Other soldiers described incidents on how civilians were annihilated.

Israeli soldiers admitted to having done an indiscriminate fire during the 50-day bloodshed between Hamas and Israel, a behaviour that deviated from battle norms, according to reports. Israel’s “loosened” rules of engagement caused hefty civilian casualties.

Breaking the Silence, an Israel-based group collating testimonies from dozens of combat troops during the Gaza war, released accounts showing a dramatic shift in battle norms. On condition of anonymity, the combat soldiers — known only by their military branch and rank — confessed they implemented an order of thoughtless open-fire resulting in 2,200 deaths of innocent Palestinians and civilians. Israel lost six civilians and 67 soldiers in that war.

Based on United Nations' report, Israel was accountable for seven fatal strikes against the U.N. schools utilised as shelters during the war. Similarly, the U.N. concluded that Palestinian rebels converted vacant schools to weapon storage and perhaps, to firing positions.

The government of Israel blamed Hamas for civilian casualties, although its military initiated several investigations on purported wartime misconduct and rebuffed the group’s reports.

ICC’s Jurisdiction Conferred

The International Criminal Court (ICC) launched a probe into Israel’s wartime misconduct, inciting protests from Israel, which accused ICC of being biased. But Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor, said Israel had nothing to be afraid of in the investigation as the team will look into the matter from both sides.

“We will of course look into the alleged crimes committed by all sides to the conflict, including the role of Hamas. I have made this clear to both Israeli and Palestinian officials. If an investigation is opened in any given situation, my office will be guided by a policy of investigating and prosecuting those most responsible for the commission of mass crimes,” Bensouda vowed.

Last April, International Criminal Court admitted Palestinian Authority (PA) as a State Party to Statute of Rome, legally conferring upon the ICC jurisdiction to handle investigations into the conflict in PA last summer.

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