Human Rights Watch said the Israeli military’s airstrikes that destroyed four high-rise buildings in Gaza City in May apparently violated the laws of war and may amount to war crimes.

Gaza tower housing AP, Al Jazeera collapses after missile strike in Gaza city, on May 15, 2021.
Gaza tower housing AP, Al Jazeera collapses after missile strike in Gaza city, on May 15, 2021. (Mohammed Salem / Reuters)

Israeli airstrikes that demolished four high-rise buildings in the Gaza Strip during its offensive in May apparently violated international laws of war, a leading international human rights group said, calling on the Israeli military to produce evidence justifying the attacks.

Human Rights Watch noted that although no one was harmed in the air strikes, the attacks damaged neighbouring buildings, left dozens of people homeless and destroyed scores of businesses.

“The apparently unlawful Israeli strikes on four high-rise towers in Gaza City caused serious, lasting harm for countless Palestinians who lived, worked, shopped or benefited from businesses based there,” said Richard Weir, crisis and conflict researcher for Human Rights Watch. 

“The Israeli military should publicly produce the evidence that it says it relies on to carry out these attacks.”

It was the New York-based group’s third report on the 11-day war. 

It has previously accused Israel of apparent war crimes for attacks that it said had no clear military targets but killed dozens of civilians.

READ MORE: Why HRW is calling for an ICC inquiry into Israeli 'war crimes'

Israel's controversial wartime tactics

Israel’s destruction of Palestinian high-rises was one of its most controversial wartime tactics. Among the targets was the 12-story al Jalaa building, which housed the local offices of The Associated Press. The building was also home to dozens of families.

HRW said it found no evidence that members of Palestinian groups involved in military operations had a current or long-term presence in any of the towers at the time they were attacked.

The United Nations reported that Israel killed 260 people in Gaza, at least 129 of them civilians, including 66 children. 

The Gaza authorities also said 2,400 housing units were made uninhabitable along with the destruction of over 2,000 industrial, trade and service facilities across the seaside territory.

“Donors funding can't alone rebuild Gaza but requires an end to the ongoing blockade imposed on the Palestinian territory," Weir added.

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes launched a series of air strikes late on Monday on a site belonging to the Palestinian resistance in the southern Gaza.

According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent, the warplanes targeted a site in Khan Younis.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has not announced any injuries as a result of the attack.

Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza since 2007, badly affecting the livelihoods of those in the seaside enclave.

READ MORE: Israel strikes Gaza after border aggression injures dozens of Palestinians

Source: TRTWorld and agencies