A Palestinian Authority-based human rights group has condemned the building and storage of rockets fired from the Gaza region towards Israel in densely populated areas, a fact which has led to injuries and deaths of Arab civilians.
In what it called an “unusual step”, The New York Times reported that the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has said that it investigated recent rocket explosions and found that locally produced projectiles had fallen on homes in Gaza or exploded in factories where they were made or stored. This resulted in several people being wounded, including a 22-year-old woman and her seven-month-old baby.
The group called on Gaza’s Hamas-led government “to open serious investigations into the circumstances of the three reported incidents and to take measures necessary to protect Palestinians and their property.”
It noted that “members of the Palestinian resistance continue to store explosives or to treat such explosives in locations close to populated areas. This poses a major threat to the lives of the Palestinian civilians and constitutes a violation of both International Human Rights Law and the International Humanitarian Law.”
PCHR’s Hamdi Shaqura told The New York Times that conducting such investigations is risky in Gaza, as militant groups generally deny responsibility. He added that the Hamas Interior Ministry website had in fact blamed Israel for the landing of locally produced rockets on targets in Gaza.
In the past, PCHR selectively condemned terrorists: while it scolded terror operatives for their “carelessness” in unsuccessfully launching attacks in or near heavily populated Arab civilian areas, it ignored attacks which claimed Israeli civilian lives.
Conversely, PCHR condemned Israel’s decision to include the Cave of Machpelah (which PCHR refers to as “the Ibrahimi Mosque”) and Rachel's Tomb (which PCHR calls “Bilal Ben Rabah Mosque”) on the list of heritage sites. It said that the Israeli government's decision constitutes a violation of Article 1 of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954.
In 2008, the same group filed a request calling for former Minieter Ami Ayalon's arrest while he was visiting the Netherlands.