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Call for Israel-Hamas arms embargo

July 2, 2012

Wednesday, March 4. 2009

Amnesty International called for a suspension on arms sales to Israel and Palestinian groups such as Hamas following the recent Gaza conflict.

The human rights group said it had evidence both Israel and Hamas had used weapons sourced from overseas to carry out attacks on civilians.

It called for the UN Security Council to impose the embargo on all parties.

Both Israel and Hamas have rejected the conclusions of the report, in which Amnesty accuses each of war crimes.

In the report, Israel is accused of illegal use of white phosphorus and other armaments supplied by the US in Gaza, while Hamas is condemned for launching unguided rockets into Israel.

Israeli government spokesman reportedly said that Israel had used white phosphorus but not as an anti-personnel weapon.

The substance, which is used to lay smokescreens, is legal for use on open ground but its use in built-up areas where civilians are found is banned under international conventions.

Mr Regev also accused Amnesty of basing its report on unsound data supplied by Hamas.

Israel launched an air strike on central Gaza on Monday after one of its patrols came under fire near the Kissufim border crossing but there were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.

A single rocket launched from Gaza also hit Israeli territory without causing injuries or damage, Israel’s military said.

The incidents happened despite unilateral truces declared by both Israel and Hamas on 18 January.

The outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is reportedly suspending his main negotiator at the talks mediated by Egypt on a lasting truce with Hamas in Gaza.

Amos Gilad criticised Mr Olmert last week for what he called an inconsistent approach to the talks, which he described as insulting to the Egyptians.

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

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

“At the same time, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of rockets that had been smuggled in or made of components from abroad at civilian areas in Israel.

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

The charity’s report said it had found fragments and components of artillery, tank shells, fins from mortar rounds and aircraft-launched missiles and bombs in school playgrounds, hospitals and homes in Gaza.

Israel’s weaponry predominantly came from the US, the report said.

In southern Israel, meanwhile, the remains of rockets fired indiscriminately at civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups were also recovered, the report said.

Mr Regev reportedly defended Israeli military tactics.

“We tried to be as surgical as humanly possible in a difficult combat situation,” he said.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the report “unfair”, telling Reuters there was no comparison between the Israeli forces’ weaponry and Palestinian “people who defend themselves with some rifles and other primitive means”.

He denied that Hamas had acquired weapons from other countries.

Around 1,300 Gazans and 13 Israelis died in 22 days of fighting last month.

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