In announcing "Fueling conflict: Foreign arms supplies to Israel/Gaza, " a detailed report on their investigation of the latest attacks on Gaza, Amnesty International called for an embargo on arms shipments to Israel, Hamas "and other Palestinian armed groups."
Speaking on behalf of AI, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director Malcolm Smart issued a very direct appeal to the Obama administration:
‘As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights.
‘To a large extent, Israel’s military offensive in Gaza was carried out with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with US taxpayers’ money.
‘The Obama administration should immediately suspend US military aid to Israel.’
The report also "called on the UN on Monday to launch an immediate investigation into allegations of war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the conflict last month."
Findings of the report – which can be downloaded here (pdf) – include :
Both Israel and Hamas used weapons supplied from abroad to carry out attacks on civilians – thus committing war crimes …
In their summary of findings on Israeli actions, they note:
As the fighting ended in Gaza last month, Amnesty researchers found fragments and components from munitions used by the Israeli army – including many that are US-made – littering school playgrounds, and in hospitals and people’s homes. They comprised artillery and tank shells (including ‘flechettes’), remnants from Hellfire and other airborne missiles and large F-16 delivered bombs, as well as still-smouldering, highly incendiary ‘white phosphorus’ remains from US-made shells.
They also found remnants of a new type of missile, seemingly launched from unmanned ‘drones’, which explodes large numbers of tiny sharp-edged metal cubes, each between 2mm and 4mm square in size. These lethal, purpose-made shrapnel had penetrated thick metal doors and were embedded deep in concrete walls. They are clearly designed to maximise injury.
Palestinian civilians killed by the metal cubes weapon, says Amnesty, include a 13-year-old girl asleep in bed, two young women on their way to a shelter in search of safety, a 13-year-old boy on his bicycle, eight secondary school students waiting for a school bus, and an entire family sitting in the courtyard of their home.
Charges against Hamas and other Palestinian parties include:
Meanwhile, in southern Israel, Amnesty saw the remains of ‘Qassam’, Grad, and other indiscriminate rockets fired by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups against civilian areas. These unsophisticated weapons – smuggled into Gaza or constructed from components secretly brought in from abroad – cannot be aimed accurately and do not compare with Israeli weaponry, but have nevertheless caused several Israeli civilian deaths and injuries, and have damaged civilian property.
Throughout the group’s announcement, there is a strong focus on the responsibility of the US in the Israeli commission of war crimes:
Amnesty’s report emphasises the fact that well before the recent three-week conflict, those who armed the two sides will have been aware of a pattern of repeated misuse of weapons by both parties and must therefore take some responsibility for the violations perpetrated with weapons thus supplied.
For many years the USA has been by far the major supplier of conventional arms to Israel. Under a 10-year agreement to 2017, the USA is due to provide $30 billion in military aid to Israel, a 25% increase compared to the period preceding the recent George Bush administration.
The report is quite detailed and includes extensive information on US arms shipments to Israel as well as an in-depth discussion of the weapons available to Hamas and others including the armed wing of Fatah. Once I’ve had a chance to digest the full report, I’ll post more about their findings.