A leading international rights organization is advocating a global arms embargo on Israel, along with Palestinian groups, to stop indiscriminate attacks on civilians, particularly singling out the US, Israel’s main arms supplier.
"We urge the UN Security Council to impose an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until effective mechanisms are found to ensure that munitions and other military equipment are not used to commit serious violations of international law," Amnesty International Middle East Director Malcolm Smart said in a press release on Monday, February 23.
The London-based group has sent a fact-finding mission to Gaza and south Israel after Israel’s recent three-week onslaught.
The mission found that the Israeli military offensive has wrecked havoc on the infrastructure of the densely-populated Palestinian territory.
"Weaponry, munitions and other military equipment supplied to Israel have been used by Israeli armed forces to carry out direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza and attacks which were disproportionate or indiscriminate," said Amnesty.
"Israeli forces’ use of artillery and other non-precision weapons in densely-populated residential areas increased the risk, and the harm done, to the civilian population."
Nearly 1400 Palestinians were killed and thousands others injured in 22 days of Israeli air, sea and ground attack on Gaza Strip.
Donatella Rovera, who headed the fact-finding mission, also criticized Palestinian groups for firing rockets into southern Israel.
"Though far less lethal than the weaponry used by Israel, such rocket firing also constitutes a war crime and caused several civilian deaths."
Only three Israelis were killed in Palestinian rocket attacks during the three weeks of war.
US Arms, Money
Amnesty’s fact-finding mission cited detailed evidence of Israel’s extensive use of US-made weaponry during its Gaza onslaught.
"To a large extent, Israel’s military offensive in Gaza was carried out with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with US taxpayers’ money," said Smart.
"Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes," Rovera agreed.
"Their attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of children and other civilians, and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure."
Amnesty researchers found fragments and components from munitions used by the Israeli army – including many that are US-made – in school playgrounds, hospitals and homes.
They included artillery and tank shells, mortar fins and remnants from Hellfire and other airborne missiles and large F-16 delivered bombs.
The researchers also found remnants of a new type of missile, seemingly launched from unmanned drones, which explodes large numbers of tiny sharp-edged metal cubes, each between 2mm and 4mm square in size.
"These lethal purpose-made shrapnel had penetrated thick metal doors and were embedded deep in concrete walls, and are clearly designed to maximize injury."
Amnesty affirms that even before the Gaza war, the US has long been the largest arms supplier to Israel.
Under a current 10-year agreement negotiated by the Bush administration, the US will provide $30 billion in military aid to Israel.
Amnesty urged US President Barack Obama to review the former administration’s agreements with Tel Aviv.
"The Obama Administration should immediately suspend US military aid to Israel," said Smart.
"As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights."