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Rights group: Israeli drones killed Gaza civilians

Rights group: Israeli drones killed Gaza civilians

Human Rights Watch charged Tuesday that Israeli pilots failed to verify targets of drone aircraft at least six times during the Gaza war, firing missiles that killed at least 29 civilians.
Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst with the group, charged that drone operators had fired before making sure their targets were actual threats.
He called drones the most precise weapons available.
"We should not find so many civilian casualties from these incidents," he said.
A spokesman for the Israeli military said it acted only against military targets during the war in December and January and that Human Rights Watch investigators had been taken in by the "Gazan propaganda system."
Drones are operated by remote control by pilots watching their targets on a video monitor. Their use has risen sharply in recent years because of their ability to hit targets with relatively great accuracy without placing a pilot in danger. American forces have been using drones along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Israel has not acknowledged using pilotless planes for airstrikes but Palestinian witnesses and defense experts have reported seeing Israeli drones attacking targets on the ground.
Israel launched its three-week war against Gaza in late December to halt rocket attacks on its southern communities. Some 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed, according to Gaza health officials and human rights groups. Israel puts the death toll closer to 1,100 and says the vast majority of the dead were militants.
Thirteen Israelis were also killed.
Israel has acknowledged loosening its rules of engagement in Gaza to minimize military casualties. Rights groups have accused Israel of using disproportionate force and failing to protect civilians.
Human Rights Watch investigated what it said were six drone strikes for its report: three that hit children playing on Gaza rooftops and three others that hit an elementary school serving as a refugee center, a group of students at a bus stop, and a metal shop near a refugee camp.
In each case, the report claims, high-resolution video from the drones should have told operators there were no gunmen in the area.
The group is calling on Israel to investigate and punish drone operators who didn't exercise enough caution and to release videos of drone strikes.
Human Rights Watch said it verified the six attacks by investigating the strike sites and interviewing witnesses soon after the war ended. They found a particular type of shrapnel and a neat dispersion of the missile parts consistent with a drone-fired Israeli Spike missile, Garlasco said. An independent Norwegian defense analyst confirmed those findings, the group said.
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem claims 87 Gaza civilians were killed in more than 40 drone strikes during the war, but Human Rights Watch investigated only six of those attacks.


Updated : 2021-04-15 05:00 GMT+08:00