Israel Hires Minister to Fight War Crimes Claims

 the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, said he had little doubt about the “unavoidably inhuman character of a large scale military operation of the sort that Israel has initiated… against an essentially defenseless population.”

Falk told journalists that Israeli military operations in the densely populated territory among a population weakened by an 18 month blockade “raises the specter of systematic war crimes.”

“Unlawful targets have been selected” during the fighting, he said.

“The evidence of breaking of fundamental rules of international humanitarian law is so compelling,” he added, backing calls for an independent, international investigation.

Falk, a legal expert, insisted that the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip was effectively trapped in a war zone and prevented from fleeing, even if they were ill, wounded, or children.

More than 1,330 Palestinians were killed and 5,450 wounded while ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians died during Operation Cast Lead which ended last Sunday with a ceasefire.
 
In the aftermath of Israel’s deadliest assault on the strip to date rights groups like Amnesty International said it was “undeniable” that Israel had used white phosphorus in crowded civilian areas, contrary to international law, charging that this amounted to a war crime.

Eight Israeli human rights groups have called on the Israeli government to investigate given the scale of the casualties, describing the number of dead women and children as “terrifying. read more

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