nations for possible Israeli violations of international law, specifically in deciding whether a home constituted a legitimate military target, and whether its destruction gave a distinct military advantage outweighing collateral damage.

“They take international law and stretch it as far as they can, way beyond the acceptable interpretation by international lawyers,” Stein said.


The report also criticised what it said were attempts to shirk responsibility for civilian deaths by blaming the government in Gaza headed by Hamas.

The report comes weeks after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, paving the way to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

ICC lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has since announced her intention to launch an inquiry into possible war crimes committed during last summer’s war in Gaza.

Israel’s military attorney general is investigating individual incidents that took place throughout the Gaza war, but the policy of targeting residences specified by B’Tselem is not being probed.

B’Tselem’s report comes a week after another Israeli rights group, Physicians for Human Rights, accused the army of using human shields and attacking health workers and facilities in Gaza last summer.

In December, Amnesty International said the army carried out “deliberate destruction and targeting of civilian buildings and property on a large scale…without military necessity”.

B’Tselem’s report cites 13 incidents in which 179 people were killed, one of the worst having taken place on 29 July 2014, when 24 people, including 18 children, died during the bombing of a Khan Younis residential building.

The group, however, did concede that Hamas and other groups fired rockets at Israeli residential areas, thus breaching international law, but that, B’Tselem said, did not provide moral or legal justification for Israel’s indiscriminate policy which left many civilians dead.

During the war Israel heavily damaged or destroyed over 20,000 homes, as well as the territory’s power station and other major pieces of infrastructure, destruction that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described as “beyond description”.