Israeli army targeted Gaza civilians: U.N. report

Dubai, September 17: The Israeli armed forces, in their three-week war in Gaza earlier this year, deliberately targeted civilians using disproportionate force in action which amounts to international war crimes, a United Nations report has concluded.

Judge Richard Goldstone’s grim findings on the Gaza conflict conclude that “actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity were committed by the Israel Defence Force.”

More than 1,400 Palestinians — one-third of them women and children — were killed in the war.

Justice Goldstone, who hails from South Africa, earlier served as chief prosecutor at international courts for Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The investigation concluded that the deliberate targeting of civilians by the Israeli forces was the result of the “Dahiya doctrine” which emerged during the Lebanon war of 2006. It involved “application of disproportionate force and the causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations.”

Consistent with this doctrine, the Israeli forces in several instances endangered the lives of civilians by drawing them into combat situations. On January 15, the Israelis deliberately attacked with phosphorous ammunition and high explosives a U.N. compound sheltering 600-700 civilians. Phosphorous shells also struck at the Al Quds hospital in Gaza City and an adjacent ambulance depot. The Israeli forces were systematically reckless in determining the use of white phosphorous explosives in built-up areas.

The report points to four instances when Palestinian civilians were used as human shields. The Israeli forces coerced blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian civilian men to take part in house searches during military operations. Civilians, including women and children under Israeli detention, were subjected to intimidation and terror.

Israeli armed forces destroyed private residential houses, water wells, water tanks, agricultural land and greenhouses with the specific purpose of depriving the Gaza population of any means of sustenance, an indication of an intention to inflict collective punishment. The investigation inferred that the series of acts to deprive the Palestinians of their basic rights could amount to persecution, a crime against humanity. Amid detailed recordings of the Israeli violations, the report pointed to evidence which showed those Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity, by launching rockets into southern Israel. Source ( the Hindu)