Morning Edition,March 26, 2009 · Testimony from Israeli soldiers, as well as human rights groups and U.N.
investigators, is bolstering claims made by Palestinian witnesses that the Israeli army needlessly killed and wounded civilians
during the recent war in the Gaza Strip.
Some soldiers say they were given incredibly permissive rules of engagement and were urged to see the Gaza attack as a
kind of holy war.
And, in a new report, Human Rights Watch alleges that the Israeli army unlawfully used white phosphorous artillery shells
over densely populated civilian areas.
(Because of intense interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, NPR makes available free transcripts of its coverage.
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 to 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
Our researchers later traveled to the scene of the strike with the two ambulance drivers who witnessed the
attack. They met with the boy’s distraught mother and found the remains of the missile. The label of the missile read,
“guided missile, surface attack” and cited the United States
as the country of origin.
Under the Geneva Conventions, medical personnel searching, collecting, transporting
or treating the wounded must be protected and respected in all circumstances. Clearly, this was not the case on Jan. 4th.
we last emailed you, more than 87,000 of you have written
Congress and former administration officials. These emails,
along with the massive outpouring of letters from around the world from other Amnesty sections, are making an impact. Just this week:
United Nations pledged $613 million in aid for Gaza
·60 members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary
of State Hillary of Clinton calling for humanitarian support for Gaza
·And hours ago, the US
pledged $20 million in aid1-2
have a small window of opportunity to build on this momentum:
This investigation is critical for many reasons, not the least of which is the clear evidence
of the use of white phosphorous, as well as the mounting evidence of the misuse of US arms3. As you read this, Amnesty researchers continue documenting
the use of arms, and we expect an action specifically calling on Congress to investigate the misuse of US weapons in this
conflict in the coming weeks.
Everyone is responsible for the protection
of international law. The US
government must not turn a blind eye to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. It should support an independent
international inquiry by the United Nations into allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights
law - by all groups participating in the conflict.
Today another former member of the IDF's "Child Killing Unit" speaks out. And again, we
see that Israel has a long standing policy of killing children, torturing children, jailing children, and, get this, using
"Military Tribunals" to try children aged 16. Witness the sickness of these people:
"You take the kid, you blindfold him, you handcuff him, he's really shaking... Sometimes
you cuff his legs too. Sometimes it cuts off the circulation. “
"He doesn't understand a word of what's
going on around him. He doesn't know what you're going to do with him. He just knows we are soldiers with guns. That we kill
people. Maybe they think we're going to kill him. “
"A lot of the time they're peeing their pants, just
sit there peeing their pants, crying. But usually they're very quiet.''