Human rights watch accuses Israel of committing war crimes during war on Gaza

Human rights watch accuses Israel of committing war crimes during war on Gaza

A report issued by the New York-based human rights watch (HRW) charged IOF troops with using deliberately and extensively white phosphorus bombs on densely populated areas during the war on the Gaza Strip which “might constitute” war crimes.

The report documents Israel”s extensive use of white phosphorus munitions during its 22-day military operations in Gaza, from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009.

Based on in-depth investigations in Gaza, the report concludes that IOF troops repeatedly exploded white phosphorus munitions in the air over populated areas, killing and injuring civilians, and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse and a hospital.

“White phosphorus munitions did not kill most of the civilian casualties in Gaza; many more died from missiles, bombs, heavy artillery, tank shells, and small arms fire, but their use in densely populated neighborhoods, including downtown Gaza city, violated international humanitarian law (the laws of war), which requires taking all feasible precautions to avoid civilian harm and prohibits indiscriminate attacks,” the report underlined.

Human rights watch called on the UN and the US, which supplied Israel with white phosphorus munitions, to investigate in these war crimes and unnecessary deaths of civilians.

The report pointed out that Israel”s desire to investigate its use of white phosphorus is welcome, but history suggests that the possibility of an objective examination is slim, adding that  previous IOF investigations have failed to look objectively at alleged laws of war violations by Israeli soldiers and commanders. 

In the case of the last military war on Gaza, the report said that Israeli military investigators had already suggested that soldiers and commanders did no wrong, even before the investigations were complete.

It also refuted Israeli allegations about legal use of such weapons during the war on Gaza, saying that if the aim was to create smokescreens, the IOF troops possess non-lethal alternatives to the highly incendiary white phosphorus manufactured in Israel.

The report underscored that the Israeli government tries to justify the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza through repeatedly blaming Hamas for using civilians as human shields, but human rights watch found no evidence of Hamas using civilians as human shields in the vicinity at the time of the attacks.

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