Thursday, August 13, 2009


Peter Beaumont writes in today's The Guardian that Human Rights Watch accuses the Israeli Defense Forces of shooting 11 Palestinian civilians carrying white flags in Gaza during last January's offensive.

Reports Beaumont:

"The deaths – including those of five women and four children – took place in seven separate incidents across Gaza in areas controlled by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), where there was no fighting and no Palestinian fighters were nearby."

In the meantime, the IDF has issued a voluminous report that finds no violations of the rights of the Palestinians and no basis for charging Israel and its IDF with any war crimes.

Beaumont reports on some of the cases brought up by Human Rights Watch:

"In one case, the civilians were walking in a group on a street. In another, they were driving slowly on tractors and in cars, trying to leave the area with the wounded, according to the report.

""On the way we saw tanks and soldiers," said Omar Abu Halima, 18. "When we saw them [the Israeli soldiers] they told us to stop. After we stopped they fired at us. They killed my cousin Mattar. My cousin Muhammad was wounded and later died."

"In another case – also in al-Atatra – two women holding white flags stepped out of a house that the IDF was demolishing to tell the soldiers that civilians were inside. "We opened the door and a sniper fired at us from a house," said Zakiya al-Qanu, 55. "Ibtisam was hit and I turned to go back inside and another bullet grazed my back. Ibtisam died in the doorway.""

Israel's reaction has been something like, "the Palestinian terrorists were using white flags to deceive IDF soldiers and then shoot them."

But Beaumont reports:

"Human Rights Watch said it could find no evidence of misuse of white flags or the use of civilians as human shields in the cases detailed. "These casualties comprise a fraction of the Palestinian civilians wounded and killed," the report says.

""But they stand out because, in each case, the victims were standing, walking or in slowly moving vehicles with other unarmed civilians, and were trying to convey their non-combatant status by waving a white flag.""

Of course, there will be no formal charges against the IDF or any of its soldiers because the IDF said it could find no evidence of abuse or maltreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The only way that the world can condemn these Israeli war crimes is to publicize them and let the public know what really happened in Israel's three-week incursion into Gaza this past January.

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