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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UK inquiry into Iraq War : the drum beats before 9/11

Iraq inquiry: British officials heard 'drum beats' of war from US before 9/11 :

The first session of Sir John's public inquiry into the events before, during and after the war is hearing evidence from senior civil servants about British policy and plans for Iraq in 2001.

The British policy on Iraq was put under formal review at the start of 2001, when George W Bush arrived in the White House as US president.

Sir William Patey, then head of Middle East policy at Foreign Office said that in February 2001, the UK knew that some in the new US administration wanted to topple Saddam.

He said: "We were aware of the drum beats from Washington.However, he said that Britain was not then willing to engage in regime change in Baghdad. Our policy was to stay away from that."

Sir Peter Ricketts, then the political director at the FCO, recalled that in the summer of 2000, Condoleeza Rice, Mr Bushs national security adviser, had written an academic article suggesting Saddam should be removed.

But the inquiry heard that in 2001, the settled view of the UK government was that attacking Iraq would have been illegal under international law.Sir Peter said: "We quite clearly distanced our self from regime change. It was clear that was something there would not be any legal base for."

In 2001, Britain and the US were committed to a policy of containing Saddam, through economic sanctions, restricting his oil sales through the oil-for-food programme, and the imposition of no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq. The two diplomats told the inquiry that the containment policy was failing in 2001, but that it could have been been viable if the United Nations had agreed a new "smart sanctions" regime in July 2001.

The new sanctions regime would also have thwarted those in the US who were arguing for a more confrontational policy towards Iraq.The new sanctions regime would have certainly satisfied us, Sir William said. It would have been arguable even against the hawks in Washington.

But Russia refused to back the new sanctions, because of its commercial interests in Iraq. The Russians were being given lots of contracts. It was virtually impossible to change the Russian view, Sir William said.

Sir Peter also revealed that there was a disagreement between Britain and the US about whether it was worth trying to get UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq.There was a dominant feeling in the US that a weapons inspection regime was risky, he said. Some Americans felt Saddam would pull the wool over the inspectors eyes about his military programes.Sir Peter said: We had more confidence in the weapons inspectors. It was an area where we probably disagreed with many on the American side.

Who's who in the Iraq inquiry

As Sir John Chilcot's Iraq inquiry opens, who's on the committee and who will they be talking to?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

US drone strategy raises concern in Pakistan

Unmanned drones are often the US weapon of choice in rugged areas such as Pakistan's South Waziristan province, which is located along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

But their use is generating growing anger. Piloted half a world away, drones let the US wage long-distance, remote-controlled warfare over Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As the attacks kill more and more civilians questions surrounding their use increase.

Monday, November 16, 2009

ONLF reported recent gains.

The officials of the Ogaden Liberation Front ( ONLF) have Thursday said they took over the control of more Ethiopian military bases with fighting that continued in the Somali region under Ethiopian control recently.

Abdukadir Hassan Hirmoge, the deputy chairman of ONLF guerrillas, claimed victory in clashes between both sides which continued in the region in over the past days, saying that they attacked more Ethiopian-controlled areas like Dudume Adde and Dufan - about 20 kilomitres from Dhagah-bur - and many other military positions, pointing out that they took over all the bases of the Ethiopians that they attacked in the recent fighting.

Mr. Hirmoge said that they also inflicted more casualties on Ethiopian troops and captured more weapons from them, adding that they will continue their fighting against the Ethiopians, whom he accused of committing actions against the Somalis in the region, such as raping, robbing, killing and so on.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Judge Richard Goldstone Report.

South African jurist Richard Goldstone, the inquiry also accused Hamas of war crimes and said both sides should investigate the allegations or face international prosecution. Over 1,300 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attack, a majority of them civilians. Nine Israelis were killed by Palestinians and another four by so-called friendly fire. The bipartisan, non-binding House measure calls the Goldstone inquiry “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

Riz Khan - The Goldstone report dispute

The UN General Assembly will debate the Goldstone report, which concluded that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the war on Gaza last winter. We ask: what is the fate of the Goldstone report?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

UN General Assembly debates Israel war crimes

Tue, 27 Oct 2009 reported by PressTV

The UN General Assembly sets a date for debating Israeli war crimes in Gaza, paving the way for a possible Security Council inquiry into the issue.

An Arab League diplomat said on Monday that Richard Goldstone's UN report on the conflict in Gaza would be discussed at the Assembly on November 4th with the aim of passing a resolution approving the report and then requesting a formal debate at the Security Council, which has the power to open a war crimes prosecution against senior Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court.

The US --Israel's staunchest ally-- however, is expected to veto any call for ICC action against Israeli officials. Washington has vetoed several anti-Israeli revolutions.

The UN General Assembly's decision to debate Israeli war crimes during Gaza war came after the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the report, which accuses the Israeli army of deliberately killing Palestinian civilians and using disproportionate force during the three-week Gaza war, despite efforts by Israeli officials to block the motion.

The report calls for the prosecution of senior Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court at The Hague if Tel Aviv fails to launch its own investigations into the Gaza war under international scrutiny within six months. Tel Aviv has condemned the report, claiming it was one-sided and biased against Israel.

According to UN figures, more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly women and children, were killed and many others wounded during Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" in which internationally banned white phosphorous bombs were used by Israeli forces.

Friday, October 16, 2009

UNHR Chief Endorses Goldstone Gaza Report, Despite Israeli Efforts

16/10/2009 | Almanar

The UN human rights chief has endorsed the Goldstone report on Israel's war on Gaza, and called for "impartial, independent, prompt and effective investigations" into the “war crimes.”

Navi Pillay said Israeli and Palestinian leaders should investigate the reported allegations to help “rebuild trust and support peace in the region.”
She said all sides of the Middle East conflict were continuing to violate international human rights and humanitarian law, and raised concern that transgressors remain unpunished. "A culture of impunity continues to prevail in the occupied territories and in Israel," Pillay said during the UN Human Rights Council's special debate session on the Goldstone report on Thursday.

The Geneva debate comes a day after the UN Security Council discussed the report, during which the Palestinian Authority demanded that Israel be punished for war crimes. In the report released last month, investigators led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas of war crimes in Gaza, but were overall more critical of Israel than Hamas.

The Palestinian Authority had initially agreed to defer a vote on the UN-sanctioned report but later backtracked under heavy criticism. The Palestinians in a draft resolution circulated for the human rights council debate, called on Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to monitor whether Israel and Hamas conduct credible investigations. It "strongly condemns all policies and measures taken by Israel, the occupying power, including those limiting access of Palestinians to their properties and holy sites" and calls on Israel to stop digging and excavation work around the Al-Aqsa mosque as well as other Islamic and Christian religious sites.

In her speech, Pillay cited concern about the restrictions on Palestinians wishing to enter Al-Aqsa and expressed "dismay" about the Israeli blockade of Gaza that she said "severely undermines the rights and welfare of the population there".
Israel rejected the charges saying the resolution – drafted by the Palestinians with Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tunisia, on behalf of non-aligned, African, Islamic and Arab nations – threatened “peace efforts”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spent much of the past few days on the matter, failed to convince “his colleagues”, mostly in Europe, to oppose the adoption of the report. Netanyahu held a series of meetings to assess the Goldstone Report and also had intensive telephone conversations with senior figures in Europe in an effort to block the report. He said on Thursday that his country would not be able to take "risks for peace" if it could not defend itself from attacks on its “citizens”. "It's important for the principle countries, outside of this automatic majority of the United Nations, to say we are not taking part in this."We know we should act otherwise," he said.

Aharon Leshno Yaar, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, said the adoption by the council of the proposed resolution would be a "reward for terror and will send a clear message to terrorists everywhere". "They will clearly hear that this new form of warfare, as used by Hamas in Gaza, will offer immunity as countries will be prevented from waging effective responses."This strategy will be repeated in other places, against other countries fighting terror." The Goldstone report recommended that its conclusions be sent on to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not hold their own credible investigations into allegations of war crimes within six months.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NAM wants Israel to be responsible for Gaza crimes

Thu, 15 Oct 2009 03:17:43 GMT

115 countries of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) have called on the UN Security Council to hold Israel responsible for atrocities committed in Gaza during its offensive.

NAM Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz asked the Security Council on Wednesday to "seriously consider and act upon the recommendations" of the UN Fact Finding Mission headed by Richard Goldstone.

The move comes while the US Administration was planning to stall efforts by the countries to condemn Israel. Washington says the war crime charges in the Goldstone report, should be dealt with in the Human Rights Council, not the Security Council. The Security Council decided to review the issue in its Wednesday meeting despite the US pressure.

However, the attempts by Washington to stall the process has sparkled outrage by right groups.
"That President Obama is receiving the Noble Peace prize after his failure to speak out during the Gaza war, and after his administration's protection of a state that has committed war crimes, is an abomination," Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, told Inter Press Service.

"Sadly, its conduct at the Human Rights Council [in Geneva] where it called the Goldstone report deeply flawed shows that it will again do all in its power to try and bury any investigation of Israel for war crimes," he added. Ratner warned that such moves would embolden Israel to continue its atrocities. The failure to refer the Gaza matter to the ICC (International Criminal Court) undercuts any claim that the law is applied equally to Israel and the Palestinians.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spanish judge to probe 2002 Gaza bombing

Sonia Labboun, Press TV, Madrid
Sat, 09 May 2009 17:20:04 GMT

Israeli Peres expresses outrage at UN report

Mike Mazzocco, Press TV, United Nations
Thu, 07 May 2009 01:18:18 GMT

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Malaysia wants Israel dragged to court

Wed, 01 Apr 2009 07:04:10 GMT | PressTV

Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said a tribunal -- similar to the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia -- must be formed to drag Israeli officials to court.

Malaysia explains why the international community needs to take Israeli leaders to court as a first step toward peace and prosperity.

At a Tuesday forum in London with the theme The Gaza Genocide: The World Community Must Act, Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim suggested Israeli military aggression against Palestinians to be worthy of prosecution.

We drag a person to court to be prosecuted for his act of having killed someone. We use the maxim mens rea in determining his murderous intent," noted the Malaysian diplomat.

But we simply allow a neighboring state to marauder thousands with guns, air strikes, chemicals and tanks," continued Rais, questioning the impunity Israel has enjoyed for sixty years.

Israel in December began pounding the Gaza Strip in air operations that later escalated into a full-fledged ground attack on the densely-populated territory.

Tel Aviv went against its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention and attacked schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings during the conflict.

The three weeks of military aggression inflicted more than $1.6 billion in damages on the Gazan economy. The carnage also killed around 1,350 Palestinians and injured nearly 5,450 people -- mostly civilians.

Israel also committed war crimes, including the use of the deadly white phosphorus shells in densely populated civilian areas, as revealed by various investigations.

Rais responded that the Palestinians had suffered more than their fair share of human calamity ever since Britain and world powers allowed the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the dispossession of the Palestinian homeland.

Israel has been emboldened by sixty years of world inaction and supposes that there is very little the international community can do in terms of punitive measures, he explained.

"It knows for sure that the American government shall always shield them, at least from the operatives of the Security Council (SC). Israel also knows that for so long as the SC is controlled under the veto system, nothing much could be done by way of sanction and execution," he said.

The US has so far vetoed at least 45 anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and has blocked official condemnation of crimes committed against the native Palestinian population.

"Israel continues to receive armaments from the United States which, in turn, were used as weapons of mass destruction against the Palestinians," Rais said.

The aggression against Gaza was the latest in a series that began when world powers created Israel in 1948 under the Zionist slogan of a 'land without a people and a people without a land'.

The establishment of Israel in the Middle East was carried out in compensation for the hardships and suffering imposed on the Jews of Europe due to anti-Semitism in the continent.

ionists benefited by gaining power over the native land of the Palestinians, but the establishment and the subsequent terror attacks against the Palestinian population gave rise to the philosophy of resistance and in recent years armed retaliation.

The United States and European powers have since failed to condemn Israeli crimes against Palestinians for their fear of the powerful Zionist lobby and being labeled 'anti-Semitic'.

Celebrated Malaysian politician and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad touched on the issue on the sidelines of the forum in an interview with Press TV.

"I feel that his (US President Barack Obama's) hands are tied. Most American presidents and I will say including Obama may not take any stand against Israel for fear of losing comfortable support in the US itself," he said.

"The Israeli lobby in the US is truly powerful and they can determine who wins and who loses in the elections."

Mahathir explained that while Israel should "exist in some form or another", the current trend that it "occupies Palestinian land" and terrorizes Palestinians must not continue.

Malaysian officials believe the only way the world can see peace is for war to be criminalized.

Rais said the Israeli conduct in Gaza amounted to "genocide" and suggested that "If there be nothing else, Malaysia and like-minded states move that an Israeli War Crimes Tribunal be formed under the UN Charter, that an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) be organized along the lines of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) established by the Security Council."

"The establishment of ICTI should provide some small degree of justice to the victims of Israeli war crimes against humanity and genocide against the people of Palestine, just as the ICTY had done in the Balkans," he added.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gaza War Crimes - Israel/Palestine

This powerful report looks at the alleged Israeli war crimes committed during the Gaza War. We show blindfolded children being used as human shields alongside innocent civilians and medics being targeted.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Crime and Punishment

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 23:42:54 GMT | PressTV | By Kian Mokhtari
The UN special rapporteur on human rights, Richard Falk.

Thanks to new, alternative and unbiased satellite news channels, the plight of Gaza's Palestinian population under the recent Israeli military attack was for once brought to the attention of the world at large. The appalling brutality and savagery of the Israeli military high command's onslaught against Palestinian civilians brought tears to countless eyes around the world and instilled in the international community a new sense of purpose to punish war criminals and thus finally introduce a new chapter worthy of 21st century humanity into the world justice system.

And as if to bring the point home with absolute clarity, the torch bearer in the struggle to bring Israeli war criminals to book is none other than a person of the same faith. The UN special rapporteur on human rights, Richard Falk, has declared that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza and called for an independent inquiry into the matter. Falk has also reiterated that Israeli conduct in the Gaza Strip necessitates the world to introduce a new law.

He has elaborated that Tel Aviv enforced a crippling siege on Gaza while attempting to devastate the territory in its 22-day war against the tiny strip. Falk has argued that this action prevented civilians from fleeing "from the orbit of harm". He is insisting that such conduct constitutes a new form of crime against humanity.

According to figures presented by the UN investigator, Israeli army killed 1,434 Palestinians including 960 civilians in its three-week carnage against the Gazan population. Thousands of others have been maimed for life and will need long-term special treatment and attention to remedy the multitude of injuries they sustained via Israel's use of unconventional weapons.

Falk describes the operations against Gaza as a "military assault with modern weaponry against an essentially defenseless society".

For all of Mr. Falk's efforts however a minor snag might in the end serve to allow Israeli war criminals to go free and remain untouched by the will of the international community to bring them to justice.

Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute. In fact both Israel and the United States unsigned the Rome Statute in 2002. This complicates matters for the International Criminal Court (ICC) because it can only bring criminals from signatory countries to stand trial.

The alternative route is for the UN Security Council to order the war criminals from none signatory countries brought to justice. But with the current run of things at the UNSC the chance of Britain and the US not using their right of veto to protect Israel is pretty nonexistent.

This maybe why the lunatic extremist fringe in Israel has been emboldened to even throw the two-state solution into the face of the world's most powerful man, the President of the United States. The Unity Coalition for Israel (UCI) has sent emails to President Obama questioning "the wisdom" of the US administration.

An announcement by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, during her visit to the region set the establishment of "a Palestinian state" as a priority for the Obama administration; and that seems to have set the cat among the pigeons. UCI's Knesset member Aryeh Eldad told Clinton that "most Israeli citizens" do not want the establishment of a Palestinian state and accused Washington of "planning to appease the Iranians, Syrians and Palestinians by paying with 'Israeli currency'."

Though it would be cruel to dash UCI's day dreams, the international community has come to realize that the Israeli-Palestinian issue must be resolved via a two-state solution. So the prevailing political winds do not give a "shekel" for Aryeh Eldad and his loony gang's protestations.

HRW: Israel use of phosphorus proof of war crimes

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 23:44:34 GMT | PressTV

Israel's use of white phosphorus over densely populated areas in Gaza "was indiscriminate and evidence of war crimes," a rights group says.

In a 71-page report, titled "Rain of Fire" published on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus artillery shells in populated areas of Gaza was not incidental or accidental, but revealed "a pattern or policy of conduct".

"In Gaza, the Israeli military didn't just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops," said Fred Abrahams, a HRW senior emergencies researcher.

"It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died."

"First, the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus in populated areas until the last days of the operation reveals a pattern or policy of conduct rather than incidental or accidental usage. Second, the IDF [Israeli Army] was well aware of the effects of white phosphorus and the dangers it poses to civilians. Third, the IDF failed to use safer available alternatives for smokescreens," the report added.

According to the rights group, although "white phosphorus munitions weren't illegal when deployed properly in open areas", the IDF repeatedly used them "unlawfully over populated neighborhoods, killing and wounding civilians and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse and a hospital."

Human Rights Watch called on the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to set up an international commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of violations of international law in the Gaza war by the Israeli military.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Iran urges Israel trial over Gaza attack

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 08:34:47 GMT | PressTV

Iran's ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaei
Iran's ambassador to the UN has called on the international community to bring Israeli officials behind the recent attack on Gaza to justice.

Mohammad Khazaei told the UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday that the international body, including the UN and the Security Council, had to take 'immediate' action against what Tehran defines as Israel's crimes against Palestinians.

"Israel continues the expansionist and belligerent policies it started 60 years ago against Palestinians," Khazaei said at the session, adding that Israeli officials must stand trial for their three-week onslaught on Gaza.

Israel has been under fire for committing 'war crimes' and 'crimes against humanity' as well as using unconventional weapons in its massive three-week-long military strike on the Gaza Step, which killed over 1,300 Palestinians, injured thousands and destroyed houses, schools and hospitals.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a 71-page report titled "Rain of Fire" published on Wednesday that Israel's repeated use of white phosphorus in densely-populated areas was not accidental but revealed "a pattern or policy of conduct."

The report also said that the Israeli army "was aware of the effects of white phosphorus and the dangers it poses to civilians."

During the UN meeting, Iran's envoy also said that Israel was continuing to breach the basic principles of human rights by threatening Palestinian lives, destroying their homes and expanding Israeli settlements.

Khazaei also condemned Israel for using an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the Gaza war, calling it 'just one example of the thousands of Israeli crimes against Palestinians'.

A group of UN human rights experts said on Monday that Israeli soldiers had used the boy as a human shield to protect themselves from being targeted by fighters in the Gazan neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa.

According to Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Secretary-General's envoy for protecting children in armed conflict, Israeli soldiers ordered the boy to walk in front of them and enter buildings to assure the safety of the troops.

Human Rights Watch has called on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to set up an international commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of violations of international law in the Gaza war by the Israeli military.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

UK to Israel: War crimes law unchangeable now

Sun, 22 Mar 2009 07:48:06 GMT | PressTV

In 2005, Doron Almog managed to avoid arrest in Britain by remaining on board a plane at Heathrow airport
The British government says it cannot change for now a law that allows for the arrest of Israel's visiting authorities over war crimes.

In an unofficial message to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Britain said that due to Israel's public image in the country following its massive strike against the Gaza Strip, London believes it will be unable to pass an amendment to the legislation before next year's elections, Haaretz reported.

The Israeli offensive, namely Operation Cast Lead, triggered a wave of outrage worldwide as it left more than 1,434 Palestinians, including 960 civilians, killed and thousands more injured.

Suspected use of forbidden ammunitions, such as white phosphorus and depleted uranium, testimonies by Israeli officers on racist and religious motifs among their comrades, and UN reports of wanton killings of civilians raised protests to Israeli war crimes and 'even crimes against humanity' during the 23-day-long onslaught.

Under British law, UK citizens can press war crime charges against foreigners, who could be arrested upon entry into Britain once an indictment has been issued.

In 2005, Maj. Gen. Doron Almog flew to London but decided not to leave the plane when he was informed British police were waiting to arrest him.

An arrest warrant had been issued against him for his role in the controversial demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah.

Almog remained on the aircraft and returned to Israel but his case has caused senior Israeli army officers in both active and reserve service, including former chiefs of staff and cabinet ministers (Ehud Barak and Shaul Mofaz), to avoid traveling to Britain ever since.

Britain's government, first under former premier Tony Blair and recently under his successor Gordon Brown, had promised to pass changes in the legislation so that private citizens would first have to obtain the approval of the chief prosecutor to be able to press war crimes charges.

While Israeli diplomats are seeking support for such an amendment from Conservative lawmakers, Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor on Saturday urged London to find a way to fulfill its promise.

But the British Foreign Office described the measure as "a complex legal issue".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Israeli soldiers fought 'religious war' in Gaza

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 19:29:47 GMT | PressTV

Israeli soldiers say they thought they were fighting a holy war in Gaza.
Israeli soldiers believed they were fighting a "religious war" against gentiles in January's Gaza offensive, a commander has revealed.

The Israeli army commander said military and non-military rabbis had circulated pamphlets among the battlefield troops, describing the operation as a "religious war" and that they were carrying out a "religious mission".

"Their message was very clear," he said. "We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land."

The account by Ram, a pseudonym to shield the soldier's identity, was published in the second day of shocking revelations that have rocked the Israeli military, Reuters reported.

"Many soldiers' feelings were that this was a war of religion," he added.

On Thursday, Israeli soldiers confessed to the wanton killing of civilians as well as intentionally destroying civilian property during the Gaza war.

The testimonies include the killing of a Palestinian mother and her two children by an Israeli sniper and the case of an elderly Palestinian woman who was killed as she was walking 100 meters (yards) from her home.

The shocking accounts are seen as evidence to war crimes and the massive violations of human rights by the Israeli army during the three-week war on the Gaza Strip.

International organizations and UN human rights investigations claim that the Israeli army deliberately used forbidden arms, such as depleted uranium and deadly white phosphorus shells, in densely populated civilian areas.

Other charges against Tel Aviv include the "reckless and indiscriminate" shelling of residential areas, the use of Palestinian families as human shields by Israeli soldiers and the unrelenting attacks on several medical facilities and UN compounds in the area.

UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, has said that most Israeli actions against the population of Gaza "appear to have all the elements of war crimes".

Despite countless allegations, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has yet to take action against Israel over its military conduct in Gaza.

UN sees grave war crime in Gaza war

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 08:18:42 GMT | PressTV

Richard Falk is an American
law professor at Princeton University
A United Nations human rights investigator says the Israeli military action on densely populated Gaza Strip constitutes grave war crime.

Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said under the Geneva Conventions if warring forces cannot distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians, "launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law."

"On the basis of the preliminary evidence available, there is reason to reach this conclusion," said Falk's annual 26-page report to the UN Human Rights Council.

He accused Israel of a "massive assault on a densely populated urbanized setting" and subjecting the entire civilian population to "an inhumane form of warfare that kills, maims and inflicts mental harm". He also gave the same death toll from Israel's offensive -- 1,434 Palestinians, including 960 civilians -- as the Palestinian human rights center.

Falk further noted the blockade of the coastal sliver (imposed by Israel and reinforced by Egypt ) added to the severity of the onslaught as the sealed borders did not allow for the civilians to "escape from the orbit of harm." This denial of people's right to flee the war zone as refugees may also constitute a crime against humanity, he said.

UN investigator called for an independent experts group to probe possible war crimes committed by Israeli forces and look into Israeli allegations against the Islamic Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip.

During the 23-day war, Israel targeted schools, mosques and ambulances while many experts and medics voiced fears that Israel used internationally banned weapons including white phosphorus and depleted uranium, in response to Hamas's firing of rockets at southern Israel.

Falk said that Israel's blockade of the coastal strip-- which started after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and has been affecting some 1.5 million people-- violated the Geneva Conventions and this suggested further war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

An independent investigator for the UN Human Rights Council and a law professor at Princeton University, Falk said the aggression was not legally justified and may represent a "crime against peace" -- a principle established at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals.

He said the Security Council might set up an ad hoc criminal tribunal to establish accountability for war crimes in Gaza because Israel has not signed the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Jewish Falk was denied entry to Israel two weeks before the attack started on December 27 and had to abort a planned mission to Gaza, what he called an "unfortunate precedent" for treatment of a special rapporteur.

On Monday, he will formally present his report to the Human Rights Council, a 47-member forum comprising of Islamic and African countries backed by China, Cuba and Russia. Neither Israel nor its closest ally the United States are members

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Israel forced to open face-saving probe

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 18:18:04 GMT | PressTV

Israel has been accused of turning Gaza into a testing lab for "extremely nasty" weapons and a devastated slum similar to the Warsaw Ghetto.
The political debacle prompted by the confession of Israeli military personnel about their conduct in Gaza has forced the launch of a probe.

With Israeli armed forces having themselves confessed to the wanton killing of civilians as well as immoral behavior in the Gaza Strip and the issue spilling into politics, the Israeli military has been forced to take action.

Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit on Thursday ordered the Military Police Investigation unit to launch a probe into the testimony of Israeli veterans of the three-week war.

Israeli soldiers have confessed that they knowingly relaxed the rules of engagement and hastily killed Palestinian civilians and destroyed civilian property as they were confident that they had the full protection of echelons in Tel Aviv.

The head of a special military course, Danny Zamir, told the Ha'aretz daily that he was "shocked" by the confessions and relayed the reports to higher authorities because he feared serious ethical lapses among troops.

"Those were very harsh testimonies about unjustified shooting of civilians and destruction of property that conveyed an atmosphere in which one feels entitled to use unrestricted force against Palestinians," Zamir told public radio.

The issue has become intensely political as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has expressed confidence that the Israeli army is the most "moral" one in the world.

"We have the most moral army in the world," Barak told Israel Radio. "The most moral army in the world stands ready to take orders from the government of Israel. I have no doubt that every incident will be individually examined."

Israeli human rights groups have also touched on the issues surrounding Israeli war crimes and criminal conduct.

"Until today, about six weeks since the end of military operations in Gaza, not a single criminal investigation has begun despite hundreds of testimonies which raise suspicion about violations of international law and of war crimes," Yesh Din said in a statement.

Israeli war crimes include but are not limited to the use of deadly white phosphorus shells in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza -- as revealed in an investigation by The Times in January.

While Israel initially denied using the controversial weapon, later mounting evidence forced Israeli officials to admit to having employed the shells.

"If these orders were given as described in the testimonies, then both the issuing of the orders and their implementation are criminal offences. If Israel does not investigate its own offences, other countries will have to," the human rights group added.

Tel Aviv unleashed Operation Cast Lead on the Gaza Strip on December 27. Three weeks of ensuing airstrikes and a ground incursion killed over 1,350 Palestinians and injured nearly 5,450 people. Most of the victims were civilians.

The carnage also inflicted more than $1.6 billion in damages on the Gazan economy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Justice experts urge prompt Gaza War probe

Mon, 16 Mar 2009 02:55:11 GMT | PressTV

The world's leading judges and justice experts have sent a letter to the UN chief, urging a prompt and impartial probe into the Gaza war.

In an open letter supported by Amnesty International, the 16 signatories stressed the need for an investigation into 'all serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties of the conflict'.

The letter argues that the UN investigation 'should not be limited only to attacks on UN facilities'.

The distinguished signatories -- who have led investigations of crimes committed in former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Darfur, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, East Timor, Lebanon and Peru -- say they were 'shocked to the core' by the events in Gaza.

"Allegations of serious violations of the laws of war have emerged throughout the latest Gaza conflict, relating to conduct and actions by both the Israeli military and by the Palestinian armed groups," said the letter distributed by Amnesty International.

"A prompt, independent and impartial investigation would provide a public record of gross violations of international humanitarian law committed and provide recommendations on how those responsible for crimes should be held to account."

They also reached out for world leaders, calling for 'an unfaltering signal that the targeting of civilians during conflict is unacceptable by any party on any count'.

The signatories include Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and Antonio Cassese, the first president of the International Criminal Tribunal and head of the UN Inquiry on Darfur.

On December 27, Israel launched a full-scale 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip, in a bid to oust its archenemy, the Islamic Hamas movement, which controls the coastal sliver. The onslaught left more than 1,340 Palestinians killed and some 5,450 others wounded, devastating hundreds of homes and buildings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Family of 29 massacred Gazans sues Israel

Wed, 11 Mar 2009 10:52:05 GMT | PressTV

29 members of the Samouni family were killed and 45 were injured in the war on Gaza.
A Palestinian family has filed a lawsuit against officials responsible for the three-week Israeli war on the population of the Gaza Strip.

The Samouni family of the southern Gazan suburb of Zeitoun has filed a suit against Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Ha'aretz reported on Wednesday.

The Samounis are demanding some 200 million dollars in compensation for the loss of 29 family members during Israel's December onslaught, which killed nearly 1,350 Palestinians and injured 5,450 others.

Some forty five members of the family have also been injured in the attacks, the report adds.

The suit filed at a court in the northern Arab-Israeli town of Nazareth, accuses the Israeli military of "criminal negligence" by killing innocent civilians who were seeking refuge in their home and a shelter.

In the early hours of January 4, the family's three-story building was targeted by an Israeli tank shell, instantly killing seven civilians.

Their apartment was burnt down completely, forcing the remaining survivors to take refuge at a nearby shelter, only to be targeted for a second time resulting in the death of 22 more civilians.

Investigations have revealed that Israel committed various war crimes in Gaza, including the use of deadly white phosphorus shells in densely populated civilian areas.

The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO or Interpol) on Tuesday said that it is reviewing a request to issue international Red Notices for 25 Israelis suspected of committing war crimes during Tel Aviv's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

"We were reviewing a request to make sure it did not breach rules that prevent the body from making any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character," Interpol said in a statement.

A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant but a request to national police forces to identify or locate suspects with a view to arrest and extradite criminals.

Interpol: Israel war crimes case pending

Wed, 11 Mar 2009 06:37:32 GMT | PressTV

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are reportedly on the list of Israelis charged with committing war crimes that Iran gave Interpol.
Interpol has confirmed that Iran has asked for help in tracking down 25 senior Israeli officials involved in the recent war on Gaza.

Tehran Chief Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi announced earlier that Iran had asked Interpol to issue international arrest warrants for 25 Israelis charged with committing war crimes during Tel Aviv's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO or Interpol) said in a statement on Tuesday that it "was reviewing the request to make sure it did not breach rules that prevent the body from making any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character."

In December, Tehran announced that it had set up a court to put the Israelis on trial for attacking Gaza and is seeking the arrest of over 100 individuals.

Interpol said Iran wanted to issue 25 so-called Red Notices for senior Israelis but did not provide any names.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are reportedly on the list.

A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant but a request to national police forces to identify or locate suspects with a view to arrest and extradition.

The legal move was made in response to the three-week Israeli onslaught on the densely populated coastal strip that left nearly 1,350 Gazans dead.

Mortazavi expressed hope that the 187 member states of Interpol would take "effective measures" to mete out justice to the Israeli war criminals.

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