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Middle East - Gaza roundup

Rights groups accuse Israel of war crimes

Article published on the 2009-03-26 Latest update 2009-03-26 15:06 TU

Palestinian Mohammed Daher and his handicapped, 80-year-old mother - theiir house and his wheelchair were destroyed during Israel's  offensive(Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian Mohammed Daher and his handicapped, 80-year-old mother - theiir house and his wheelchair were destroyed during Israel's offensive
(Photo: Reuters)

Israeli, Palestinian and international rights group have accused Israel of abuses and war crimes during this year's offensive on Gaza. The charges, which Israel denies, include accusations of firing on medical workers and UN buildings and the wanton killing of civilians and destruction of property.

Israel prevented foreign journalists entering Gaza during its offensive and had strong support from domestic media. That left much of the coverage of its effect on the area's population to Arabic media, rights groups and Palestinian politicians.

Human Rights Watch has issued a long report on the use of white phosphorous.

Since the end of the offensive in February, a number of organisations have accused Israel of outrages. Here are some of the charges:

  • UN Middle East peace co-ordinator Robert Serry on Wednesday says that he is worried about the lack of progress in reconstruction, saying it is urgent to reopen closed frontier crossings and exchange prisoners;
  • Physicians for Human Rights Israel and Gisha, Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement on Tuesday accused Israel, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt of preventing passage between Egypt and Gaza for political reasons, adding that Israel bears the lion's share of the blame;
  • Physicians for Human Rights Israel on Monday accused the Israeli military of violating medical ethical codes by failing to evacuate besieged and wounded, preventing Palestinian medics from reaching the wounded and attacking 34 medical care facilities, including eight hospitals - Israel has ordered an investigation into alleged incidents;
  • UN rapporteur Richard Falk on Monday declared that there is reason to conclude that the Gaza military operation was illegal and therefore a war crime - Israel, which prevented him visiting Gaza in December, accuses him of bias;
  • The Breaking the Silence campaign is collecting soldiers' testimony of abuses, as Israeli soldiers at the Oranim pre-military academy described wanton killings of civilians and destruction of property, including a sharpshooter killing a mother and her two children;
  • A group of judges and human rights investigators, backed by Amnesty International called for an international investigation into the conflict earlier this month;
  • The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights claims to reveal "the true extent" of losses during the offensive - it calculats the toll as 1,417 dead, including 926 civilians, 255 police officers, and 236 armed Palestinian fighters.