Israel defends its Gaza offensive against war crimes charges 2009-07-31 03:28:59   Print

    JERUSALEM, July 30 (Xinhua) -- An Israeli official report published Thursday says its offensive against Gaza half a year ago is a response to Hamas' rocket attacks and with no violations of international laws, but admitting the army is fulfilling some criminal investigations.

    The 160-page report, titled "The Operation in Gaza - Legal and Factual Aspects", acknowledges that "despite the precautions taken, the Gaza Operation resulted in many civilian deaths and injuries and significant damage to public and private property in Gaza. Israel makes no attempt to minimize the human costs incurred."

    But it insists that Israel does not violate international laws.

    It is proportionate for Israel to "take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas' almost incessant rocket attacks," the report says, adding that Israel was bombarded by some 12,000 rockets and mortar shells between 2000 and 2008, including nearly 3,000 in 2008 alone.

    Israel launched the Gaza offensive from Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18 2009. The Israeli army put the death toll of Palestinians at 1166 and 295 dead were civilians by estimate, while Palestinian side said 1417 were killed, with 926 civilians.

    The Palestinians and human rights groups accuse Israeli army of committing war crimes in the military operation, charges including attacks at United Nations facilities, medical personnel and buildings, uninvolved civilians and civilian infrastructure and of the use of weaponry containing phosphorus.

    The report admits that Israel Defense Force (IDF) is currently examining approximately 100 complaints made by various groups, with 13 criminal investigations opened so far.

    As the latest in a series of reports critical of Israel's Gaza offensive, activist group Breaking the Silence published 54 testimonies of Israeli combat soldiers this month, accusing commanders of IDF ordered soldiers to use Palestinians as human shields.

Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts         

Editor: Yan
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