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Israel-Hamas arms embargo urged
Amnesty International has called for a freeze on arms sales to Israel
and Palestinian groups such as Hamas following the recent Gaza
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 Mark Regev told the BBC 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
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.
“ [Israeli] attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of children and
other civilians and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure ”
Donatella Rovera Amnesty International
"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 defended Israeli military tactics in an interview for the BBC's Today
"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.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/02/23 09:25:42 GMT
© BBC MMIX
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