Civilians at risk amid new attacks in Israel and Gaza

Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups must refrain from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks harming civilians, Amnesty International said today, following several attacks in southern Israel and a series of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian armed groups reportedly fired at least 10 indiscriminate rockets into southern Israel today, injuring at least six people – one seriously – in the Israeli town of Ashdod. Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued air strikes on multiple locations in Gaza, following a series of strikes on Thursday and overnight that killed at least seven people, including two children and four members of the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees. “The civilian deaths and injuries over the last two days in Israel and Gaza are deeply alarming and the escalating attacks underline the need for both sides to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. At least 20 Palestinians had been injured by 2pm local time on Friday. The ambulance and emergency services in Gaza reported that the majority of those injured were women and children. Six Israeli civilians, one soldier and one policeman were killed in attacks yesterday on two buses, a private car and a military vehicle in southern Israel. More than 30 Israelis were injured, including civilians and military personnel. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks but the Israeli government has blamed the Popular Resistance Committees. “Palestinian armed groups must immediately cease firing indiscriminate rockets into Israel,” said Malcolm Smart.”For their part, Israeli forces must comply with the same rules of international humanitarian law, which prohibit attacks on civilians and indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. All parties must distinguish between civilians and military targets.”