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Monday, March 23, 2009

Israel used Gaza boy as 'human shield'

Mon, 23 Mar 2009 17:17:21 GMT | PressTV

In three weeks of carnage, Israel killed around 1,350 Palestinians and injured nearly 5,450 people -- mostly civilians.
The United Nations has made a stand against the war on Gaza, confirming that Israeli soldiers have seriously breached humanitarian law.

A group of UN human rights experts said on Monday that Israeli forces had used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield and to protect themselves from being shot by fighters in the Gazan neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed conflict, said Israeli soldiers ordered the boy to walk in front of them and enter buildings to assure the safety of the troops.

The 43-page report added to previous confirmations that Israel committed war crimes in its three-week operations in the territory.

The use of the deadly white phosphorus shells in densely populated civilian areas is but anot
her charge Israel initially denied. Later mounting evidence nevertheless forced Israeli officials to admit to having employed the shells.

Coomaraswamy explained that the Israeli army shot Palestinian children, bulldozed a home with a woman and child still inside and shelled a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier.

"Violations were reported on a daily basis, too numerous to list," Coomaraswamy asserted.

She said those violations she listed are "just a few examples of the hundreds of incidents that have been documented and verified" by UN officials who were in the territory.

Israel's diplomatic mission in Geneva said it would respond to the report later on Monday at a session of the UN Human Rights Council.

UN human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, has also confirmed Israeli violations of humanitarian law. Because Israel denied him entry into the strip, his latest report focuses on the legality of the Israeli war and whether it amounts to grave war crimes and the use of disproportionate force.

According to Falk, the major question begging an answer is whether Israeli forces could differentiate between civilian and military targets in Gaza. "If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful, and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law," Falk says in his report.

Despite the mounting evidence and testimonies by Israeli soldiers that there had been orders to put the safety of even a single Israeli troop at a much higher priority than those residing in the strip, world bodies have yet to take decisive action against echelons in Tel Aviv.

The last Israel-waged war on Gaza began on December 27. Three weeks of ensuing airstrikes and a ground incursion inflicted more than $1.6 billion in damages on the Gazan economy.
The carnage also killed around 1,350 Palestinians and injured nearly 5,450 people -- mostly civilians.

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