Amnesty International urges Barack Obama to suspend military aid to Israel

The human rights group said it found evidence that Israel and Hamas had both used weapons supplied from overseas to carry out attacks on civilians, accusing both sides of committing war crimes during the three-week conflict at the start of the year. It accused Israel of using white phosphorous and other weapons from the US and said Barack Obama had a “particular obligation” to suspend military aid over their use.

Amnesty called for the UN Security Council to enact an arms embargo until mechanisms were put in place to ensure that equipment was not used to commit violations of international law.

“Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes,” said Donatella Rovera, who headed an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza.

“Their attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of children and other civilians, and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure.”

The report also said Hamas and other Palestinian groups should be subject to the embargo because they had committed war crimes by attacking Israeli towns with rockets.

“Though far less lethal than the weaponry used by Israel, such rocket firing also constitutes a war crime and caused several civilian deaths,” Ms Rovera said.

Both sides have dismissed the report.

Amnesty said it had found fragments and components of artillery, tank shells, mortar fins and airborne missiles and bombs in school playgrounds, hospitals and homes in Gaza.

In southern Israel it found remains of rockets fired indiscriminately at civilian areas by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

“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,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s Middle East director.

“In addition all states should suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until there is no longer a substantial risk of human rights violations.

“There must be no return to business as usual, with the predictably devastating consequences for civilians in Gaza and Israel.”

The release of the report came as hundreds of travellers left blockaded Gaza for Egypt, in one of the sporadic openings that enable students, patients and others with Egyptian visas to cross the border.

About 1,000 university students and holders of foreign residency permits were eligible to cross, and by mid-afternoon Sunday, about 600 people had made the trip, border officials said.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/4783612/Amnesty-International-urges-Barack-Obama-to-suspend-military-aid-to-Israel.html