Monday, February 8, 2010

HRW: Israel Failed to Probe War Crimes

Perhaps they took lessons from Bush and the GOP.

HRWlogo Human Rights Watch said on Sunday that Israel has failed to properly investigate alleged crimes committed during last winter's devastating Gaza war as demanded by the United Nations.

"Israel claims it is conducting credible and impartial investigations, but it has so far failed to make that case," said Joe Stork, HRW's New York-based group's deputy director for the Middle East.

"An independent investigation is crucial to understand why so many civilians died and to bring justice for the victims of unlawful attacks," Stork said in a statement.

About 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the 22-day onslaught launched by Israel on December 27, 2008, aimed at halting rocket attacks from the Islamist Hamas-ruled enclave. Thirteen Israelis were killed in the fighting.

The UN General Assembly in November called on Israel and Palestinian armed groups to investigate alleged war crimes detailed in a UN report by the respected former international war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone.

But UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that he had not yet determined whether both sides had adequately probed the accusations.

Last Friday, the UN chief received a 46-page report from Israel in which it denied violating international law but admitted "tragic results" due to the "complexity and scale" of fighting in heavily populated areas.

In his report, Ban highlighted Israel's assertion that two of its senior officers -- a brigadier general and a colonel -- were disciplined for the firing of white phosphorous shells toward a UN compound during the war.

Also on Friday, the UN secretary general was handed a preliminary report from the Palestinian side in which it said a commission had been set up to look into allegations that Palestinian militants committed war crimes.

Hamas also carried out an investigation into the conflict, and has previously absolved its fighters of any wrongdoing, saying they did not deliberately target civilians.

HRW has rejected Hamas's claims, saying that most of the rockets fired during the war hit civilian areas. "Civilians were the target," the group said, and "deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Common Dreams>

I readily acknowledge that war crimes were committed on both sides, so I’m not placing all the blame on Israel.  However, we need to consider the scale of the atrocities here.  Palestinian rockets have killed just a few Israelis.  Without minimizing the tragic loss to the families involved, it does not begin to compare with the 1,400 Palestinians killed.  The use of white phosphorous against civilians is particularly heinous.  I could give a dry description of that horror weapon, but I’ll leave it to one of our Vietnam Vets, who have seen it in action, to give a first hand description in a comment.

A full, independent investigation into war crimes needs to be conducted.  I call on the US to stop covering for Israel’s crimes through the use of our veto in the UN Security Council.


the walking man said...

Start with the USS Liberty and work your way forward from there when it comes to Israeli war crimes.

TomCat said...

Too true Mark.

Oso said...

Walking Man,
I second that.

Lisa G. said...

How about we just suspend both of their funding until the UN gets a satisfactory, credible, independent report from both sides. What independent body do our wise readers recommend to do this evaluation?

TomCat said...

As do I, Oso.

Lisa, how about a UN commission headed by Goldstone or perhaps farm it out to HRW or Amnesty International?