Blog de César Salgado

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Obxectivos civís nos bombardeos de Israel sobre Gaza (informes de AI e HRW)

Os bombardeos que o exército de Israel levou a cabo sobre Gaza entre os meses de decembro do 2008 e xaneiro do 2009 foron esta semana obxecto de dous informes, un publicado por Amnistía Internacional (AI) e outro publicado por Human Rights Watch (HRW). Parece demostrado que as armas de alta precisión podían evitar moitas baixas civís pero non o fixeron, e por isto estamos diante de graves crimes contra o Direito Internacional Humanitario.

O informe de AI ten máis de cento vinte páxinas e leva por título Operation “Cast Lead”: 22 days of death and destruction. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:

At 11.30am on 27 December 2008, without warning, Israeli forces began a devastating bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip codenamed Operation “Cast Lead”. Its stated aim was to end rocket attacks into Israel by armed groups affiliated with Hamas and other Palestinian factions. By 18 January 2009, when unilateral ceasefires were announced by both Israel and Hamas, some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed, including some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians, and large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground, leaving many thousands homeless and the already dire economy in ruins.

Much of the destruction was wanton and resulted from direct attacks on civilian objects as well as indiscriminate attacks that failed to distinguish between legitimate military targets and civilian objects. Such attacks violated fundamental provisions of international humanitarian law, notably the prohibition on direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects (the principle of distinction), the prohibition on indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks, and the prohibition on collective punishment.

Hundreds of civilians were killed in attacks carried out using high-precision weapons – airdelivered bombs and missiles, and tank shells. Others, including women and children, were shot at short range when posing no threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers. Aerial bombardments launched from Israeli F-16 combat aircraft targeted and destroyed civilian homes without warning, killing and injuring scores of their inhabitants, often while they slept. Children playing on the roofs of their homes or in the street and other civilians going about their daily business, as well as medical staff attending the wounded were killed in broad daylight by Hellfire and other highly accurate missiles launched from helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, and by precision projectiles fired from tanks.

Disturbing questions remain unanswered as to why such high-precision weapons, whose operators can see even small details of their targets and which can accurately strike even fast moving vehicles, killed so many children and other civilians. […]

O informe de HRW ten unhas corenta páxinas e leva por título “Precisely Wrong: Gaza Civilians Killed by Israeli Drone-Launched Missiles”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:

During the recent fighting in Gaza from December 27, 2008, to January 18, 2009, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killed dozens of Palestinian civilians with one of the most precise weapons in its arsenal: missiles launched from an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV)–the latter more commonly known as a drone. Alongside weapons that affect large areas, such as high explosive artillery and artillery-fired white phosphorous, Israeli forces in Gaza used drones in precisely targeted attacks that killed and wounded civilians.

Military experts around the world have extolled drone-launched missiles as weapons with pinpoint accuracy, which can minimize civilian casualties. Their use is rapidly expanding, for example by the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in part because the use of drones places no friendly military personnel directly at risk.

But as Human Rights Watch’s investigation in Gaza demonstrates, drones, much like sniper rifles, are only as good at sparing civilians as the care taken by the people who operate them. The accuracy and concentrated blast radius of the missile can reduce civilian casualties, but in Gaza, Israel’s targeting choices led to the loss of many civilian lives.

The total number of Gazan civilians killed by drone-launched missiles remains unclear. Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations —B’Tselem, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights— together reported 42 drone attacks that killed 87 civilians. Amnesty International told the media that it documented 48 civilian deaths from drones, and this does not represent the full number.

This report focuses on six Israeli drone strikes, which in total killed 29 civilians, eight of them children. It is based on interviews with victims and witnesses, investigations of the attack sites, IDF and media reports on the fighting, and in one case IDF video footage of the attack. Human Rights Watch determined that in all of these attacks the Israeli military directed their strikes on individuals who were all found to be civilians. In none of the cases did Human Rights Watch find evidence that Palestinian fighters were present in the immediate area of the attack at the time. None of the targets were moving quickly or leaving the area, so the drone operators would have had time to determine whether they were observing civilians or combatants, and to hold fire if they were not able to tell the difference.

In the incidents investigated by Human Rights Watch, Israeli forces either failed to take all feasible precautions to verify that the targets were combatants, apparently setting an unacceptably low threshold for conducting attacks, or they failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians and to target only the former. As a result, these attacks violated international humanitarian law (the laws of war).

The technological capabilities of drones and drone-launched missiles make the violations even more egregious. Israeli drones are equipped with high-resolution cameras and advanced sensors, which allow drone operators to view objects on the ground in detail during both day and night. One Israeli drone operator who flew missions in Gaza during the recent fighting told an Israeli military journal that he was able to discern clothing colors, a large radio, and a weapon. In addition, the missile launched from a drone carries its own cameras that allow the operator to observe the target from the moment of firing to impact. If doubts arise about a target after a missile has been launched, the drone operator can remotely divert the weapon elsewhere. With these advanced visual capabilities, drone operators who exercised the proper degree of care should have been able to tell the difference between legitimate targets and civilians. […]

5 Xullo 2009 - Posted by | Amnesty International, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Israel, Palestine, Politics

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