On October 8, at least two air-dropped munitions penetrated the roof of a hall containing over 1,000 mourners, killing at least 110 people and wounding 610 during the funeral ceremony of Ali al-Rawishan, the father of the Sana’a-based administration’s interior minister, Jalal al-Rawishan.
“A Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrike on a crowded funeral ceremony in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, on October 8, 2016, is an apparent war crime,” Human Rights Watch said, calling the strike “unlawfully disproportionate.”
After interviewing survivors of the tragedy and examining information relating to the strike, the HRW concluded that Saudi strike was a deliberate action – first of all, because the funeral service, which was attended by over 1,000 mourners, has been made public ahead of time via a Facebook post.
“Serious violations of the laws of war committed willfully – that is, intentionally or recklessly – are war crimes. The date and place of the funeral ceremony was announced on Jalal al-Rawishan’s Facebook page on October 7, and would have been publicly available,” HRW said.
While acknowledging that some military personnel, which included Houthi rebels, had been attending the ceremony, the “clear presence” of hundreds of civilians, the NGO argued, is enough to declare the strike a war crime.
“Under the laws of war, an attack is unlawfully disproportionate if it may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life or damage to civilian structures that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack. Only military personnel and civilian officials involved in military operations against the coalition would be considered legitimate targets,” HRW explained.
While calling for an impartial probe into the funeral strike and other similar incidents, the New York-based organization expressed a strong doubt that the Saudis and their Western allies in the region would conduct an honest investigation into the tragedy.