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    Human Rights Watch: Palestinian armed groups violated laws of war in Israel's Gaza operation


    FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2012 file photo, smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations by militants to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File)

    JERUSALEM - Gaza militants violated laws of war by launching hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians during last month's fighting, Human Rights Watch said in a release Monday.

    The Israeli military said 1,500 rockets were fired at Israel during the eight-day offensive against Gaza militants, including the first rockets from the Gaza Strip to strike the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas.

    The rocket attacks killed three Israeli civilians and wounded dozens. Israeli assaults killed 169 Palestinians.

    "Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at the New York-based rights group. "There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas."

    Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, said it would comment on the report after its legal experts review it. The Israeli military did not address the substance of the report.

    Last week, the New York-based group in a similar report said Israel violated laws of war in the same offensive by attacking journalists and media facilities in Gaza. Two Palestinian cameramen were killed and at least 10 media personnel were wounded in the Israeli operation.


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