Friday, January 9, 2009

Criticism of Israel's war crimes mounts

'We are very violent', says Israeli commander

by Jonathan Cook

Global Research, January 9, 2009

"NAZARETH. 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.....

Photographs of pale blue artillery shells lined up by tanks stationed on the edge of Gaza have been identified as American-made phosphorus munitions. Neil Gibson, a missiles expert for Jane’s, told the London Times that the shells were an “improved modelthat burned for up to 10 minutes.

Although such shells are allowed when used solely as a smoke screen, they are banned as a chemical weapon if used as an anti-personnel munition. Palestinian and international medics in Gaza have reported large numbers of burns victims with injuries difficult to treat.

Yesterday, Amnesty International also accused Israeli soldiers of using Palestinian civilians as human shields – a charge Israel has repeatedly levelled against Hamas.

Malcolm Smart, a spokesman, said: “Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground-floor room while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position.” "

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