Saturday, January 17, 2009

Israel's War Crimes - Been There, Done That.....

Criticism of Israel's war crimes mounts.

Criticism by international watchdog groups over the increasing death toll in Gaza mounted this week as the first legal actions inside Israel were launched accusing the army of intentionally harming the enclave's civilian population.

The petitions -- over attacks on medical personnel and the shelling of United Nations schools in Gaza -- follow statements by senior Israeli commanders that they have been using heavy firepower to protect soldiers during their advance on built-up areas. "We are very violent," one told Israeli media.

There is also growing evidence that Israeli forces have been firing phosphorus shells over densely populated areas in a move that risks violating international law by inflicting burns on civilians.

Demands grow for Gaza war crimes investigation
Israel is facing growing demands from senior UN officials and human rights groups for an international war crimes investigation in Gaza over allegations such as the "reckless and indiscriminate" shelling of residential areas and use of Palestinian families as human shields by soldiers.

Please excuse me if I don't get too excited and optimistic about this, been there, done that: The following is from the Amnesty International report for 2004.

The rights group's report for 2004 says Israeli forces have killed some 700 Palestinians - including 150 children - mostly in unlawful circumstances.

The report lists "reckless shooting, shelling and air strikes in civilian areas... and excessive use of force".

It also condemns the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinian militants and violence by Jewish settlers.

"Certain abuses committed by the Israeli army constituted crimes against humanity and war crimes," Amnesty's report says.

"The deliberate targeting of civilians by Palestinian armed groups constituted crimes against humanity," it adds.

An Israeli opposition MP has requested an urgent parliamentary debate on the report.

But an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman denied the charge of war crimes and said Amnesty's analysis appeared "one-sided".

The report says Palestinian armed groups killed 109 Israelis, including 59 civilians and eight children, in suicide bombings, shootings and mortar attacks.

How about this one from 1999:

Israel/Occupied Territories: Demolition and dispossession: the destruction of Palestinian homes
This report investigates the pretexts and implications of the Israeli policy of house demolitions, focussing particularly on the period after the beginning of the peace process in 1993. It describes the problems for Palestinians of getting permits and the related Israeli policies on land including zoning, land confiscations and Israeli settlement-building of the occupied territories. Download the full report: here.

Human Rights Watch, dated 1998:

Israel's Record of Occupation.

On July 15 and 16, 1998 Israel presented its initial report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the U.N. body of independent experts responsible for monitoring implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its two Optional Protocols. Already more than five years overdue, the 369-page report should have included detailed information on the measures Israel had adopted to give effect to the rights recognized in the covenant, and on the progress made in the enjoyment of those rights. Instead, as Human Rights Watch argued in its submission to the Human Rights Committee, Israel's report failed to give sufficient information on the implementation of the covenant in practice, left out any discussion of Israel's implementation of the covenant in the territories it controlled in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and South Lebanon, and misrepresented Israeli practice on important issues including torture and administrative detention.

I could go on all day, but I think you get the hint. Like I said, I'm not going to get too excited about any complaints and actions against Israel until I see them come to fruition.

President Obama, are you going to hold your new bestest friends accountable? Whether you want them to be your buddies or not doesn't matter, it comes with the territory you just inherited. I'll be keeping a close eye on you sir, and hopefully so will a whole lot of other people. More eyes will be on you than any other president before you, so you'd better get it right the first time.

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