Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Israel facing hundreds of war crime lawsuits

Israel facing hundreds of war crime lawsuits

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Israel could soon be charged with hundreds of war crimes as Palestinian lawyers file 936 lawsuits against the Israeli military five months after its three week war on Gaza.

Head of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) Iyad al-Alami, says the cases will soon be heard in Spain's National Court under universal jurisdiction, the pro-Israeli magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.

The legal department of the PCHR in Gaza City is gathering evidence for the cases which include a wide range of instances of unarmed civilians - including children - being shot from close range or burned by white phosphorus shells, ambulances being attacked and civilian houses being deliberately destroyed.

Israel launched an all-out war on the Gaza Strip in late December 2008 and continued to pound the coastal sliver through January 2009.

Close to 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the offensive which also left thousands homeless and wounded, costing the Gazan economy an estimated USD 1.6b in damages.

The use of unconventional flesh-eating weapons -- including depleted uranium and white phosphorus -- against civilians and destruction of UN buildings prompted a universal condemnation and calls for war crime charges to be brought against Tel Aviv.

In this regard, a UN fact-finding mission was dispatched to the strip to investigate reports of Israeli war crimes. The mission announced on Wednesday that it has obtained documents that allegedly confirm Tel Aviv's misconduct during the war on Gaza.

The PCHR, however, is independently taking legal measures against Tel Aviv. "Winning a case, just one, would be enough," al-Alami, the head of the center, was quoted as saying. "Then I would retire immediately, because I would have achieved everything."

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