US Accuses UN of Gaza Bias

The United States has reacted angrily to a UN report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in its recent 23-day war on the besieged Gaza, including the use of children as human shields.

"We’ve expressed our concern many times about the special rapporteur’s views on dealing with that question, and we’ve found the rapporteur’s views to be anything but fair," State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said in a press briefing on Monday, March 23.

"We find them to be biased. We’ve made that very clear."

In a report presented to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council on Monday, UN special human rights rapporteur in the Palestinian territories Richard Falk accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes of the greatest magnitude in Gaza.  

The American Jewish law professor also accused Israel of violating Geneva Conventions on the protection of civilians during military conflicts.

More than 1,434 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed and 5,450 wounded 22 days of Israeli attacks in Gaza.

Israeli soldiers recently admitted killing innocent Palestinians in cold blood and ransacking their properties during the Gaza war.

An Israeli squad leader was quoted by Ha’aretz as saying his soldiers interpreted the rules of engagement to mean "we should kill everyone there [in the centre of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist."

Physicians for Human Rights, an Israeli human rights group, has accused the army of killing 16 Gaza medical personnel and attacking 8 hospitals and 26 clinics.

The Guardian has compiled detailed evidence of war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, involving the use of children as human shields and the targeting of medics and hospitals.

The month-long investigation obtained evidence of civilians hit by unmanned drones said to be so accurate that operators can tell the color of the clothes worn by a target.

Human Shields
Despite the US criticism, Falk was not the only UN official who accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza.

Nine UN human rights investigators who visited the bombed-out Palestinian enclave of 1.6 million have made similar accusations.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said Israel shot Gaza children, bulldozed a home with a woman and child still inside, and shelled a building a day after ordered civilians into.

"Civilian targets, particularly homes and their occupants, appear to have taken the brunt of the attacks, but schools and medical facilities have also been hit," she concluded.

The Sri Lankan human rights lawyer, who visited Gaza in February, cited a long list of incidents to substantiate her charges.

In one example, she said, Israeli soldiers shot a father after ordering him out of his house and then opened fire on a room where the family was sheltering, wounding the mother and three brothers and killing a fourth.

The UN official also accused Israel of using Palestinian children as human shields.

on January 15, soldiers forced an 11-year boy to walk in front of them for several hours as they moved through Gaza City, even after they had been shot at, Coomaraswamy said.

"(The incident) appears to be in direct contravention to a 2005 Israeli High Court ruling on the illegality of the use of human shields."

"Only an investigation mandated by the UN security council can ensure Israel’s co-operation, and it’s the only body that can secure some kind of prosecution," said Amnesty’s Donatella Rovera, who spent two weeks in Gaza investigating war crimes.

"Without a proper investigation there is no deterrent. The message remains the same: ‘It’s OK to do these things, there won’t be any real consequences’."

( and Agencies)

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