A new Amnesty International report reveals that U.S.-made white phosphorus artillery shells among other U.S. weapons were found throughout Gaza. When white phosphorus munitions are used in densely-populated civilian areas as Israel has, it violates international humanitarian law’s prohibition on indiscriminate attacks and amounts to a war crime.
Samia Salman Al-Manay’a, 16 years old, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, when a phosphorus shell landed on the first floor of the house on January 10th. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she spoke to the AI delegation.
“The pain is piercing. It’s as though a fire is burning in my body. It’s too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong.”
Hours before Israel announced a ceasefire, an Amnesty International fact finding mission gained access to Gaza. Their initial reports are disturbing: the team found first hand evidence of war crimes, serious violations of international law and possible crimes against humanity by all parties of the conflict.
AI researchers continue investigating attacks against southern Israel and are currently documenting the true scale of devastation wrought on civilians in Gaza. The stories they report are harrowing.
In the early afternoon of January 4th, three young paramedics walked through a field on a rescue mission to save a group of wounded men in a nearby orchard. A 12-year-old boy, standing by his house, assisted the operation by pointing to where the men could be found. An Israeli air strike on the area killed all four.
The bodies of the four victims could not be retrieved for two days. Ambulance crews who tried to approach the site came under fire from Israeli forces.
With innocent civilians, women and children dying every day, Congress must act. 20 days into the Gaza crisis and the humanitarian crisis there gets worse every day. Over 1000 Palestinians have been killed; 398 women and children are dead, another 4500 injured, 750,000 lack access to water and one million are without electricity. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians have been killed.
Each day that passes guarantees more innocent civilians will suffer. Tell Congress to act swiftly to help get more humanitarian aid and workers enter Gaza and to suspend all transfers of weapons to Israel.
The latest news from Gaza is bleak. More than 2 weeks into the conflict, the death toll has risen to more than 680, with thousands more injured. 1.5 million people, 56% of them children, are trapped inside Gaza — an area about 6 miles wide and 27 miles long — by the Israeli blockade.
With the UN reporting that 750,00 Gazans are without access to water and 1 million do not have electricity, how are Gazans supposed to endure the daily assault?
Meanwhile, armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas, continue bombarding Israel with indiscriminate rocket fire, firing over a dozen rockets a few days ago.
What can be done to prevent Hamas from firing at civilians? What are the responsibilities of the warring parties in this conflict? How can refugees be protected?
Ask these and other questions today for an online chat on Monday, January 12th, at 12pm EST.
Amnesty International Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, January 5, 2009
Amnesty International Urges U.N. Security Council
Not to Fail Civilians Caught in Gaza Conflict
Human Rights Organization Concerned by “Unprecedented Scale” of Civilian Casualties in Gaza; Calls for Deployment of International Monitors in Urgent Letter
Contact: AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington) — Amnesty International today urged the U.N. Security Council to take firm and decisive action to address the increasingly grave situation in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel.
“Civilian casualties and destruction in Gaza are on an unprecedented scale,” said Amnesty International USA’s senior deputy executive director Curt Goering. “If the U.N. Security Council does not act swiftly and effectively, it risks failing civilians caught in hostilities and thereby shirking its duty to ensure respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.”
There are growing concerns about the safety of the civilian populations in the area, particularly the 1.5 million Palestinians who are trapped in the Gaza Strip and face a spiraling humanitarian crisis amid continuing Israeli attacks after many months of blockade.
“The Council can start by adopting a strong resolution condemning attacks against civilians by both Israel and Hamas, demanding that such attacks cease immediately,” added Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program director.