Israeli forces unlawfully destroyed civilian property [press release] during the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in the Gaza strip, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said in a report [text] Thursday. According to the report, "'I Lost Everything': Israel's Unlawful Destruction of Property in the Gaza Conflict," there were at least 12 separate cases in which Israeli forces destroyed civilian property, including homes, factories, farms, and greenhouses, without any lawful military purpose. HRW urged the Israeli government to conduct a thorough investigation:
Conduct thorough and impartial investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law during the fighting of December 2008-January 2009 in Gaza. Make the investigation findings public and prosecute those responsible for war crimes in trials respecting international standards.A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] said that they are preparing a response to the report [Haaretz report].
Last month, HRW accused [JURIST report] both Israel and Hamas [JURIST news archives] of failing to conduct meaningful, credible investigations into accusations of war crimes during the Gaza conflict. In a 62-page report [text, PDF], HRW described the alleged law of war violations committed during the combat, along with the deficient responses from both sides. In February, HRW criticized [JURIST report] Israel for failing to demonstrate that it would conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the alleged war crimes. Just prior to that, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said that it was unclear whether Israel and Palestine have fully met UN demands [JURIST reports] to set up a commission to investigate war crimes that may occurred during the conflict.