[JURIST] Israeli human rights group B'Tselem [advocacy website] issued a report [DOC] Wednesday concluding that the June 28 bombing by Israeli forces of a power plant in the Gaza Strip during the early stages of the 34-day Middle East conflict [JURIST news archive] precipitated by the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers amounts to a war crime under international humanitarian law [press release] as an act of collective punishment, and that Israel must fund repairs and pay compensation. The government of Israel [JURIST news archive] has defended the bombing, saying that it was done to cut power to militants, thereby making it harder to move a soldier abducted by Hamas. B'Tselem, however, maintains that "there was no apparent military basis for the action, and it seems that its intention was to satisfy a desire for revenge."
The bombing destroyed the power plant, cutting off power to over a million Gaza residents. In July, United Nations relief coordinator Jan Egeland said that Israel had used "disproportionate" force in its military offensive in the Gaza Strip and expressed dismay over the destruction the power plant, saying that international law clearly prohibits the destruction of civilian infrastructure [JURIST report] and that the plant was "more important for hospitals, for sewage, and for water of civilians than for any Hamas man." Reuters has more.