Israel Covering Up Gaza Crimes: HRW

Human Rights Watch on Thursday, April 23, branded Israeli probes into the recent Gaza war as an attempt to covering up Israeli war crimes perpetrated in the densely-populated coastal enclave.

"The conclusions are an apparent attempt to mask violations of the laws of war by Israeli forces in Gaza," HRW Deputy Director Joe Stork said in a statement.

Israeli deputy army chief Major General Dan Harel claimed on Wednesday, April 22, that five military internal investigations into the 22-day war found "no violations" of international law.

It claimed its troops "operated in accordance with international law" and maintained "high professional and moral level".

HRW refuted the findings, insisting that its own investigation had showed Israeli forces were responsible for "serious violations of the laws of war."

It cited the use of heavy artillery and white phosphorus munitions, which can cause severe burns, in densely populated areas, the targeting of civilians and the destruction of civilian property in excess of military need.

HRW researchers in Gaza also found spent white phosphorous artillery shells, canister liners and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets and apartment roofs, in residential courtyards, and at a UN school.

Israeli forces killed more than 1,417 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, in their three-week onslaught in December.

The offensive wrecked havoc on Gaza’s infrastructure, leaving thousands of homes, government buildings, schools, hospitals and mosque in ruins.

Foreign and Arab doctors have documented abnormal injuries suffered by the civilian population of Gaza, accusing Israel of using banned weapons.

Under international pressures, Israel has admitted using white phosphorous in shelling Gaza.


Victims of the Israeli Gaza war were also dumbfounded by the outcome of the Israeli probes.

"The deputy IDF chief of staff is lying, with a right that belongs only to those who have power but not justice on their side," Dr. Mahmoud Iyad told Yediot Aharonot.

"It is the same power that gives the IDF the privilege not to take moral responsibility for the crime it committed….They shoot, they kill, and they lie."

The bereaved father recalled the killing of his two sons in an Israeli attack on the outskirts of Khan Younis during a 4-hour humanitarian truce.

"It was afternoon, there was no fog or anything to inhibit the soldiers’ view. There were no incidents, no fire," he said.

As Iyad and his two sons, a 27-year engineer and a 21-year freshman student, left the farm in a car, the Israeli soldiers opened fire at them.

"The soldiers were in a house that was empty and suddenly we heard yelling and fire and a soldier yelling, "Get down, son of a whore."

Iyad’s eldest son died on the spot.

"My young son bled from 12:30 that day and until Saturday in the early morning, when he was defeated and died," he said chocking at the memory.

"If this the mistake the Israeli deputy chief is talking about? My children are gone.

"Maybe for him we were ‘a little mistake here and there’ but my children’s life is over. They were my treasure, and in one moment they were taken."

( and Agencies)

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