Sunday, April 26, 2009

Amnesty International dismisses Israeli attempt to white-wash IOF atrocities

Amnesty International has refuted several claims made in the IOF 'probe' into the Gaza massacre. From Maan;
"There is a strikingly large gap between the 'very small number' of mistakes referred to in the IDF's [Israeli Military’s]briefing paper and the killing by Israeli forces of some 300 Palestinian children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians," said Donatella Rovera, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories researcher at Amnesty International. "The army briefing does not even attempt to explain the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths nor the massive destruction caused to civilian buildings in Gaza."

Rovera said the military’s report “mostly repeats claims made by the army and the authorities many times since the early days of Operation Cast Lead, but without providing the necessary evidence to back up the allegations."

She further called the report an “attempt to shirk its [the Military’s] responsibilities [rather] than a genuine process to establish the truth." She charged the Israeli military with the responsibility to “provide evidence that their strikes were indeed against legitimate military targets” rather than placing the onus on the victims.

Citing the prominent example of the shelling of the UNRWA school in Jabaliya on 6 January Rovera quoted the Israeli report as saying, "the soldiers responded with minimal and proportionate retaliatory fire, using the most precise weapon available to them." She added, however, that “the reality is that the soldiers fired at least four mortars into a crowded street.”

A report by Amnesty International said “the use of such a notoriously imprecise weapon [mortars]in a crowded civilian area was virtually certain to cause civilian deaths and injury.” The report also corrected the Israeli assessment that 12 - five combatants and seven civilians – died in these strikes, “in fact some 30 people, mostly civilians, were killed,” the report said.

Amnesty also takes issue over the claim in the report that “fragments of the smoke projectiles [white phosphorus bombs] hit a warehouse located in the [UNRWA] headquarters,” saying that “in reality it was not only fragments which hit the UNRWA compound,” intimating that Israel launched the white phosphorus bombs directly at an UNRWA humanitarian aid warehouse.

The report backs up its claims saying “Amnesty International researchers saw several white phosphorus artillery shells which had landed and exploded inside the compound, together with at least one high explosive artillery shell. Amnesty International has no reason to doubt the army's assurances that it did not target the UNRWA compound, as artillery is too imprecise to be used for pinpoint targeting.”

Read the entire AI press release here.

Newslinks: 1, 2, 3

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