Amnesty calls for arms embargo on Israel, Palestinians

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Amnesty International called for a United Nations arms embargo on Israel and the Palestinians.

The human rights organization’s report on Israel’s three-week Gaza military operation, which was released late Sunday night, details "evidence of war crimes" on both sides in the Gaza conflict.

The report says that Israeli forces used munitions from the United States, Israel’s main foreign arms supplier, during the Gaza operation, and that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of rockets at civilian areas in Israel that had been smuggled in or made of components from abroad.

"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 Amnesty International’s fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza.

"As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East. "The Obama administration should immediately suspend U.S. military aid to Israel."

The report also criticized Hamas for the Kassam and Grad rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups into civilian areas in Israel, though it made clear that "these unsophisticated weapons cannot be aimed accurately and stand no comparison with the weaponry deployed by Israel."

Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded to the report by saying that it "presents a biased version of the events, and does not adhere to professional criteria and objectivity."

The report, according to a statement, ignores the fact that Hamas is a recognized terror organization. It also does not mention Hamas’ deliberate use of civilians as human shields.
 

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