Gaza rocket said to hit Palestinian Human Rights Commission office in Strip

International groups condemn Israel over missile, which injured an employee, but Israeli sources deny firing it and Palestinian media blacks out the incident

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel, followed the targeted killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror chief Baha Abu al-Ata, by an Israeli strike, on November 12, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel, followed the targeted killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror chief Baha Abu al-Ata, by an Israeli strike, on November 12, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

A rocket that hit the offices of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday was reportedly fired by Palestinians inside Gaza and not launched by Israeli forces.

The ICHR blamed Israel for the missile, which injured one worker and caused significant damage to the building. Amnesty International issued a condemnation of Israel, as did the US left-wing activist group Code Pink.

However, the rocket, which hit the fifth floor of the office building, was fired by terrorists in Gaza — almost certainly the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group — but it fell short of hitting Israel, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

PIJ pummeled Israel with hundreds of rockets Tuesday in response to the IDF targeted killing earlier in the day of Baha Abu al-Ata, a senior commander in the terror group, and his wife. The IDF responded with airstrikes on PIJ targets. The rocket barrages continued Wednesday and an IDF spokesman said the retaliatory Israeli airstrikes were carefully hitting only PIJ targets while staying away from populated areas to avoid civilian casualties.

An unconfirmed video purportedly showing the rocket that hit the ICHR office was circulated on social media.

Israeli sources confirmed to Haaretz that the rocket that hit the ICHR was not fired by the IDF. In addition, there was an almost total self-imposed blackout of the incident by local Palestinian media, which according to the report, is a further indication that the missile was Palestinian.

The blast caused serious damage to the lowest of the three floors that the commission uses in the building. Two workers who had minutes earlier gone up to the seventh floor were unharmed, as were several other employees who were on the sixth floor. One man was lightly injured and suffered anxiety.

Hamas internal security forces and local firefighters removed the rocket debris, Haaretz reported.

The ICHR, which monitors human rights violations by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, put out a statement condemning Israel for the rocket and calling on the international community to launch an investigation.

Amnesty International quickly tweeted its own condemnation of the “Israeli missile” and declared that “strikes targeting civilian buildings is a violation of international law.”

Code Pink issued a statement condemning Israel’s strikes on Gaza and claiming that “Israel bombed the office” of the ICHR. Its Middle East campaign director Enas AlSaffadi said in the statement, “I condemn the attack on this important human rights organization.”

Hours later, Amnesty posted another tweet saying, “Conflicting information is circulating about what exactly hit the ICHR office in Gaza and where the attack came from.”

“Amnesty is calling for an impartial investigation into this incident and other events in Gaza today,” the group wrote.

Israel’s targeted killing of PIJ’s commander Abu al-Ata was met with over 250 rockets fired at southern and central Israel throughout Tuesday and Wednesday morning, with the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepting 90 percent of the rockets heading toward population centers. The remaining 10% struck homes, businesses and roadways, causing significant damage, but relatively few injuries.

Rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza at Israel occasionally fall short, causing injury and damage to Palestinians and their property. In September seven Palestinians were injured when a rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip, aimed at Israel, exploded near a house in the coastal enclave.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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