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11 with white flags shot in Gaza war, report says

August 14, 2009|Times Wire Reports

A new report by Human Rights Watch charges that Israeli soldiers killed 11 unarmed Palestinian civilians who were carrying white flags in seven separate incidents during Israel's offensive in Gaza in the winter.

The report says the civilians included five women and four children. The group urged Israel to investigate the deaths, which it said occurred when the civilians were "in plain view and posed no apparent security threat."

The group says at least three witnesses confirmed the details in each of the seven shootings.

The report is the latest in a slew of charges from human rights groups that Israel violated the rules of war in its Gaza assault. The reports on the offensive have focused on Israeli violations, but Human Rights Watch also has said that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups violated the rules of war by firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians.

In a response to the report, the Israeli military said its soldiers were obligated to avoid harming anyone carrying a white flag but that in some cases Hamas militants had used civilians with white flags for cover.

"Any person who displays a white flag in this way acts illegally, does not enjoy protection from retaliatory action, and endangers nearby civilian populations," the military said.

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