UN report latest to charge Israel with war crimes

IDF used children as human shields and white phosphorous: UN

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Israel used Palestinian children as human shields and illegally used whilte phosphorus bombs on civilians during its Gaza offensive, according to a United Nations report, the latest in a string of reports about potential war crimes committed during the war that the Jewish state denies.

The most recent report, the combined effort of eight U.N. investigators, accused the Israeli Defence Forces of using an 11-year-old boy as a human shield, forcing him to enter suspect buildings first and inspect dangerous-looking bags.

Sri Lankan lawyer Radhika Coomaraswamy, who headed the U.N. team in charge of the protection of children of war zones, called the incident a violation of international law and said it was only one of “hundreds of incidents” verified by officials.

"On the basis of the extensive information available, the great majority of observers have concluded that systematic and impartial war crimes investigations must be undertaken," stated the U.N. report.

Israel denied the charges and criticized the report for being politically motivated and not balanced.

"We are an army to which morals and high ethical standards are paramount," Captain Elie Isaacson, an IDF spokesman said in response to the report.

Last week, however, soldiers admitted killing unarmed Palestinian civilians during the operation. Israel's military has launched an investigation but the U.N. report raised doubts it can be carried out impartially.

White phosphorus officially verified

Human rights groups and victims have accused the IDF of using white phosphorus against civilians and for the first time the United Nation echoed the charges, citing several verified examples of illegal use of the chemical weapon in its report.

On Jan. 10 three children suffered serious burns when white phosphorus shells hit their family’s house in Jabalia near a government building.

Another incident was verified on the last day of the assault Jan. 18 in which a white phosphorus shell bombed the UNRWA school killing two children and injuring their mother.

“UNWRA has stated that they have evidence of white phosphorous having being fired into their installations, including the UNWRA school in Beit Lahia. This is also supported by video footage of phosphorous shells being.” Stated the report.

At least 1,453 Palestinians, including 431 children, 114 women and 300 Hamas fighters, died during the 22-day war. Thirteen Israelis were killed, including four by friendly fire.

Denial in context

Israel denied the U.N.’s charges, as it has those of human rights groups.

"The report claims to examine Israel's actions while it wilfully ignores and downplays the terrorist and other threats we face," Ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar told the U.N.'s 47-nation Human Rights Council, referring to Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

However the U.N. did mention allegations that Hamas used civilians as human shields and fired at IDF from densely populated areas and is investigating the reports. An HRW investigation found no evidence Hamas used human shields.

U.N. special rapporteur Richard Falk responded to Israel’s criticism saying that any attempt to view both sides as "equally responsible" is inaccurate as Hamas is a lightly-armed militia operating in occupied territory while the IDF is the most powerful army in the region.

Amnesty international said it plans to release a comprehensive report on war crimes by the IDF next month. “A report bringing all evidence together is important since evidence is coming out now that more and more groups are entering Gaza for investigations,” Nicole Choueiry told AlArabiya.net.

See three part video documenting Israel's IDF war crimes at

http://evideo.alarabiya.net/ShowClip.aspx?clipid=2009.03.25.11.32.58.664
http://evideo.alarabiya.net/ShowClip.aspx?ClipID=2009.03.25.11.32.58.666
http://evideo.alarabiya.net/ShowClip.aspx?ClipID=2009.03.25.11.32.58.665

On the basis of the extensive information available, the great majority of observers have concluded that systematic and impartial war crimes

UN report conclusion