Saturday, January 19, 2008

UN rights official slams 'cowardly Israeli war crime' in Gaza

"GENEVA (AFP) - Israel's targeting of a Hamas government office which caused serious casualties at a nearby wedding party was a "war crime" and those responsible should be punished, a United Nations official said Saturday.

John Dugard, UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories, also slammed the killing of Palestinians in other attacks and the closing of border crossings.

"The killing of some 40 Palestinians in Gaza in the past week, the targeting of a Government office near a wedding party venue with what must have been foreseen loss of life and injury to many civilians, and the closure of all crossings into Gaza raise very serious questions about Israel's respect for international law and its commitment to the peace process," Dugard said in a statement.

"Recent action violates the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention," Dugard charged in the statement put out by the UN human rights commission.

"It also violates one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets."......"

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