MOSCOW, January 28 (Sputnik) — A report published Wednesday by Israeli human rights group B'Tselem laid the blame for civilian deaths in the summer 2014 Gaza military campaign on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"These attacks… are the result of a policy formulated by government officials and the senior military command," the report, published on the organization's website, said.
Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip,… http://t.co/Sb1ciCq9WQ— B'Tselem בצלם (@btselem) 28 января 2015
On July 8, 2014, Tel Aviv launched a military offensive against the Hamas movement in Gaza — a de-facto authority in the region — in response to what they claimed was the group's responsibility for the death of three Israeli teenagers the previous month. According to UN estimates, the conflict claimed the lives of nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 71 Israelis, culminating in an open-ended truce mediated by the Egyptian government on August 26, 2014.
The B'Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights surveyed 70 incidents during the conflict and uncovered over 600 civilian deaths, "the vast majority of whom took no part in the fighting." All but 200 of the dead were found to be either minors or the elderly.
The NGO report outlined three main areas of responsibility evaded by Israeli authorities, which lead to avoidable civilian deaths. These include Netanyahu's government expanding the definition of military targets to include residential buildings as terror infrastructure, lenience toward anticipated harm to civilians in relation to perceived military advantage, and an inefficient warning system the Israeli forces used to signal their intent to fire weapons into neighborhoods prior to carrying out the attacks.
"Even if political and military leaders thought this policy would bring an end to attacks on Israeli communities, they should not have implemented it because of its foreseeable, horrifying consequences as well as because of the black flag of illegality flying over it," the report stated.
The Gaza Strip has been controlled by Hamas since 2007 and has been involved in three wars against Israel, which has long branded the group as a terrorist organization.
Palestinians seek the creation of an independent state on the territories of the West Bank in East Jerusalem, partially occupied by Israel, as well as on the Gaza Strip territory controlled by Hamas militants.