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Amnesty International Says Israel Misused US-Supplied Weapons in Gaza


The human rights group Amnesty International is accusing Israel of misusing weapons supplied by the United States during its recent 22-day assault on militants in the Gaza-Strip. Israel has rejected the report, calling it biased and unprofessional.

The report released Monday says both Israel and Hamas used weapons supplied from abroad to kill civilians.

Amnesty International says Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the United States to carry out what it says were serious violations of international humanitarian law. It says the attacks resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians - including children and widespread material damage. 1,300 people died in Gaza during the 22-day offensive that ended on January 18.

The Amnesty report drew immediate fire from Israel's Foreign Ministry on Monday. Ministry spokesman Andy David accused Amnesty of misrepresenting facts.

"The initial study that we made of the report clearly indicates that it presents a very biased version of the events and does not adhere to professional criteria and objectivity," said David.

He said the report failed to mention that western nations consider Hamas a terrorist organization and repeated Israel's allegations that the group put men, women, and children in harm's way.

"There is no mention in the report of Hamas' deliberate use of civilians as human shields, the fact that they based their camps, their munitions depots, their battlegrounds, all purposely located in the midst of civilian population centers," he added.

The Amnesty report accuses Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza of firing hundreds of rockets at civilian areas in Israel, something it says also constitutes a war crime. However, Amnesty says the rockets from Gaza were "far less lethal" than the weaponry used by Israeli forces. Hamas also rejects the Amnesty Report.

Israel's casualties in the offensive amounted to three civilians and ten soldiers killed.

Amnesty says its teams found remnants of what it says was a new type of missile that explodes sharp-edged metal projectiles, causing extensive damage.

One of the sources that Amnesty International consulted was Dr. Subhi Skeik, the head of the Surgical Department at the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where many of the victims were treated. In a recent interview with VOA, Dr. Skeik described what he said were unusual injuries in which victims suffered strange, extensive damage to internal organs.

"Sometimes you could see some of the minute particles. What is that? We don't know. And, what is more serious, after doing the needed surgical procedures in those patients, your patient is more or less stable after finishing the surgery, it's [in] sending the patient afterward to the post-operative care," said Dr. Skeik. "Those patients are dramatically lost. Lost from what?"

Israel does not deny using white phosphorus in Gaza, but it says any use of the material during the assault was within international norms.

Amnesty is calling on the U.N. Security Council to impose an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo on the Jewish state.


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