Rights groups: Investigate for ‘war crimes’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The same day that Israeli local human rights groups blasted the country’s operation in Gaza, the Israeli military appointed a team to coordinate humanitarian aid.

The organizations charged Wednesday that Israel’s political and military leaders should be investigated for suspected war crimes.

They called on Israel’s attorney general to investigate the humanitarian situation in Gaza and made five demands, including that the military stop targeting civilians, open an escape route for civilians, provide medical care to the injured and ill, allow rescue teams in to battle zones, and repair utilities.

In a letter, the groups wrote, "After the end of the hostilities, the time will come for the investigation of this matter, and accountability will be demanded of those responsible for the violations. At this point we call your attention to the clear and present danger to the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of civilians."

Also Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces appointed a special team to support efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip and to rebuild the infrastructure needed to conduct everyday life.

The day before, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed a government minister to coordinate among the various government bodies regarding humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. Isaac Herzog, the social welfare and social services minister, will coordinate aid operations with the relevant international organizations, and deal with the information campaign related to the humanitarian issue.

More than 1,000 truckloads of humanitarian aid supplies, equaling more than 25,000 tons, have been delivered to Gaza since the start of Israel’s operation in Gaza in late December, according to the IDF spokesman’s office.

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