Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Israeli army violated ethics: report


A Palestinian woman hangs laundry in Jebaliya in the Gaza Strip on Saturday in the rubble of her house, which was destroyed by the Israeli military in January.


Israel’s army violated codes of ethics and international law during the war in Gaza by attacking medics and refusing to allow the treatment of wounded, a human rights group said yesterday.

The actions reflect a “demonization of Palestinians [that] bears a heavy price for Israeli society,” said a report by Physicians for Human Rights that called for an independent body to investigate the military’s conduct during its 22-day Operation Cast Lead in Gaza that ended on Jan. 18.

Among the offences listed by the Israeli non-governmental organization are “attacks on medical personnel; damage to medical facilities and indiscriminate attacks on civilians not involved in the fighting.”

“Israel placed numerous obstacles in the course of the operation that impeded emergency medical evacuation of the sick and wounded and also caused families to be trapped for days without food, water and medications,” the report said.

“The actions ... violate directives of international law which forbid attacks on medical centres and medical teams during fighting” and “blatantly violated codes of ethics,” it said.

During the offensive, Israeli fire killed 16 Palestinian medical personnel and wounded 25 others, while eight hospitals and 26 primary care clinics were attacked, figures from the UN and the group indicated.

Among the specific incidents cited is that of a man surnamed Shurrab, whose two sons were shot by Israeli forces while the trio drove toward the southern city of Khan Yunis on Jan. 16.

“One of the sons died immediately, the other bled to death [over a period of] 12 hours,” it said. “All that time the Israeli soldiers were within a short distance from the Shurrabs but did not provide any assistance despite the father’s repeated requests.”

Such incidents reflect a general demonization of Palestinians, it said, a process that “reached its nadir when soldiers in an army that flaunts its morality declined to help evacuate injured civilians and trapped families, when soldiers acted in a trigger-happy manner as they opened fire on ambulances, medical installations and medical personnel.”

“We have noticed a stark decline in IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] morals concerning the Palestinian population of Gaza, which in reality amounts to a contempt for Palestinian lives,” said Dani Filc, the chairman of the group.

“It is critical that the investigation of Operation Cast Lead is completed by a neutral, external investigator,” it said.

No comment on the report was immediately available from the Israeli military.

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