Friday, March 20, 2009

Israeli War Crimes

The evidence of Israeli war crimes during its Gaza invasion continues to pile up. Amnesty International has repeatedly reported such evidence "wanton destruction" of homes and the use of white phosphorus bombs (not to mention that they came from the U.S.).

Now, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories Richard Falk has denounced Israeli failure to distinguish between military targets and civilians in a report to the U.N.

Emerging testimony by Israeli soldiers supports Falk's findings:

Israel was last night confronting a major challenge over the conduct of its 22-day military offensive in Gaza after testimonies by its own soldiers revealed that troops were allowed and, in some cases, even ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian civilians.

The testimonies – the first of their kind to emerge from inside the military – are at marked variance with official claims that the military made strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties and tend to corroborate Palestinian accusations that troops used indiscriminate and disproportionate firepower in civilian areas during the operation.

Making the point that atrocities by the Israeli Army are nothing new, Lebanon's Daily Star recalled some of the historical record:

Israeli Army has a long history of involvement in atrocities against
civilians. This is especially true in Lebanon, where Israeli troops
cordoned off the exits from the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps while
militiamen massacred about 2,000 Palestinian civilians over three days
in 1982. The Israeli Air Force dropped parachute flairs to aid the
killings at night.

Israeli Air Force also extensively bombed civilian areas of west
Beirut, sometimes with white phosphorous munitions, which cause injury
or death via severe burns. In 1996, Israel shelled the UN base at Qana
in South Lebanon, killing more than 130 civilians while commanders
watched what unfolded via an aerial drone.

in 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon after Hizbullah conducted a
cross-border raid against Israeli Army forces. About 1,200 Lebanese,
the vast majority of them civilians, died in the conflict. Israel also
bombed civilian areas, sometimes with cluster munitions, the use of
which against civilians is illegal under international law.

has also carried out numerous air strikes on Palestinian leaders in
crowded areas of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, resulting in
numerous civilian deaths.

How much evidence will be required to hold Israeli officials to account? Is it time for a new Nuremburg trial?

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