Global Research, Nazareth, January 9, 2009 - 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.
The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, called the events in Gaza a “new Nakba”, referring to the catastrophe that dispossessed the Palestinians in 1948. The Palestinian Authority revealed that it was planning to seek the prosecution of Israel’s leaders for war crimes in the international courts....
A petition to the Israeli courts was announced on Wednesday by Taleb al Sanaa, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament, over the shelling on Tuesday of a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp that killed at least 40 Palestinians sheltering there.
UN officials, noting that they had passed on the school’s GPS co-ordinates to Israel and that it was clearly marked with a UN flag, insisted that only civilians had sought refuge at the school. The UN has demanded an investigation.
Mr al Sanaa said the petition would name the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, the foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, and Ehud Barak, the defence minister, as the responsible parties. “Israel needs to decide whether it wants to be a terrorist organisation like Hamas or respect international law,” he said.
A further petition has been launched by eight Israeli human rights groups, demanding that Israel’s Supreme Court ban the army from targeting ambulances and medical personnel.