Israel Prepares for Gaza War Crimes

Israel Prepares for Gaza War Crimes 
Before even concluding its troops withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel is already preparing itself for an expected wave of war crimes lawsuits over the massacres perpetrated against civilians in the bombed-out Palestinian territory.

"When the scale of the damage in Gaza becomes clear, I will no longer take a vacation in Amsterdam, only at the international court in The Hague," an Israeli minister told the daily Haaretz on Monday, January 19, wishing not to be named.

Senior ministers express serious fears that Israel would be pressed into agreeing to an international investigation into the Gaza killings.

Israel’s air, naval and ground offensive on Gaza, which began on December 27, killed more than 1300 people, including 410 children, 108 women and 118 elders.

At least 200,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes during the three-week onslaught, which left the densely-populated enclave in ruins.

Israeli officials fear they will be faced with personal suits, such as those filed in Britain over the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank.

One Israeli minister believes the risk of facing lawsuits this time is even higher from what it was in 2002.

Foreign journalists who enter Gaza to report on the war’s aftermath will not be accompanied by Israeli officials or spokesmen like in 2002, he noted.

The Israeli defense establishment has already started to collect material in anticipation of legal suits.

Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog will also coordinate Israel’s public relations efforts against the accusations of war crimes.

Prosecution Calls

Some groups are already preparing legal action against Israel over the Gaza onslaught.

A galaxy of 230 international lawyers, mainly French, is preparing to file a lawsuit against Israeli war crime in the coastal enclave before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"Based on the 1949 Geneva Convention collective punishment, offensive against civilians, disproportionate use of weapons, rise of civilian killings and pounding non-military locations are considered war crimes," Jill Devier, a French lawyer working on the lawsuit, told a protest in Paris Sunday.

The Arab Commission for Human Rights has also said it would ask the ICC to probe "war crimes" committed by Israel during its Gaza offensive.

The effort is not restricted to international groups.

Bolivia, which severed diplomatic ties with Israel over the offensive, is seeking to take Tel Aviv to the ICC over the brutal atrocities its forces committed in Gaza, two ministers have said in Geneva.

Amnesty International has accused Israel of "unlawful attacks," while Human Rights Watch accused it of "indiscriminate" attacks that were against the rules of law.

The leading British charity Oxfam said Israeli leaders have committed "massive and disproportionate violence… in violation of international law."

A coalition of Israeli human rights groups, including the local chapter of Amnesty International, also wants an international investigation into war crimes in Gaza.
( and Agencies)

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