Monday, February 23, 2009

[ePalestine] Amnesty International urges freeze on arms sales to Israel [A MUST READ + ACTION ITEM]

Dear friends,

Sadly, it has taken 60 years and 1,300+ (the killing continues) additional loss of lives in Gaza to get to this point, nevertheless, this is an opening we must support.  It is the same track I mentioned in my last op-ed, End the Occupation First .

The newly released Amnesty report noted in the two articles below may be downloaded from ePalestine, since I could not find it on Amnesty's website:

Every legislator in the world and every newspaper editorial and letters page in the world should be making the call to support an arms embargo on Israel.  Please act now and make this report known in your community. Organize, Organize, Organize: For Results.

Stop the Arms, Save the Children, All the Children,


w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m 

Last update - 07:48 23/02/2009 
Amnesty International urges freeze on arms sales to Israel 
By Amira Hass 

More than 20 countries sold Israel weapons and munitions whose use during Operation Cast Lead could constitute war crimes and might pose serious infractions of international law, according to a report to be released by Amnesty International on Monday. 

The United States is at the top of the list of arms exporters to Israel, but France, Romania, Bosnia and Serbia are listed as well. Amnesty's report, entitled, " Fueling Conflict: Foreign Arms supplies to Israel/Gaza," details arms sales to Israel between 2004 and 2007, and publishes some of the organization's findings on the use of such weapons against civilians and civilian targets. 

"Direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects, disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks are war crimes," the report states, describing such attacks during the war in Gaza. The organization recommends that all arms sales to Israel be frozen until "there is no longer a substantial risk that such equipment will be used for serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses." 

The report further noted that Hamas and other Palestinian groups also used weapons indiscriminately against civilians. Although Amnesty cannot determine the direct supplier of non-homemade weapons (which are manufactured in Iran and Russia), it also calls for a moratorium on weapons sales and shipments to the Palestinians. The report also mentions that the types and quantity of weapons in Hamas' hands are much smaller than those in Israel's possession. 

"Even before the three-week conflict, those who armed the two sides will have been aware of the pattern of repeated misuse of weapons by the parties. They must take some responsibility for the violations perpetrated with the weapons they have supplied and should immediately cease further transfers," the report states." 

Since 2001, the Unites States has been Israel's main supplier of conventional weapons, the report states. The figures Amnesty obtained show that from 2004 to 2007, the total value of U.S.-supplied arms to Israel stood at some $8.3 billion. 

The report also notes that since 2002, Israel has received military and security aid to the tune of $21 billion, of which $19 billion was direct military aid. "Put simply, Israel's military intervention in the Gaza Strip has been equipped to a large extent by U.S.-supplied weapons, munitions and military equipment paid for with U.S. taxpayers' money." 

A 10-year agreement, in force until 2017, stipulates that the United States will supply Israel with military aid totaling $30 billion. 

"The Obama administration should immediately suspend U.S. military aid to Israel," Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East director, said ahead of the report's release. 

Between 2004 to 2007, France exported military equipment to Israel to the tune of 59 million Euros. Romania exported equipment worth approximately 20 million Euros, while Britain provided the equivalent of some 10 million pounds sterling's worth. Serbia sold Israel approximately $15 million worth of weapons and munitions, whereas Germany provided some $1.5 million in military aid. 

The report also mentions civilian targets, including The American School in Beit Lahia, Gaza, destroyed by F-16 aircraft. Amnesty's report further states that three ambulance crew- members and a boy who showed them the way to a group of injured were killed on January 4 by an Israeli guided missile that was manufactured jointly by Hellfire Systems and Lockheed Martin/Boeing as part of a U.S. military contract. 

The Amnesty representative in the Gaza Strip also found extensive evidence of the use of U.S.-made phosphorus bombs against civilian targets and densely populated areas. 


Amnesty International urges Barack Obama to suspend military aid to Israel 

Amnesty International has called for a global arms embargo to be placed on Israel following the recent Gaza conflict. 

Last Updated: 12:44AM GMT 23 Feb 2009 

The human rights group said it found evidence that Israel and Hamas had both used weapons supplied from overseas to carry out attacks on civilians, accusing both sides of committing war crimes during the three-week conflict at the start of the year. It accused Israel of using white phosphorous and other weapons from the US and said Barack Obama had a "particular obligation" to suspend military aid over their use. 

Amnesty called for the UN Security Council to enact an arms embargo until mechanisms were put in place to ensure that equipment was not used to commit violations of international law. 

"Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes," said Donatella Rovera, who headed an Amnesty fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza. 

"Their attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of children and other civilians, and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure." 

The report also said Hamas and other Palestinian groups should be subject to the embargo because they had committed war crimes by attacking Israeli towns with rockets. 

"Though far less lethal than the weaponry used by Israel, such rocket firing also constitutes a war crime and caused several civilian deaths," Ms Rovera said. 

Both sides have dismissed the report. 

Amnesty said it had found fragments and components of artillery, tank shells, mortar fins and airborne missiles and bombs in school playgrounds, hospitals and homes in Gaza. 

In southern Israel it found remains of rockets fired indiscriminately at civilian areas by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. 

"We urge the UN Security Council to impose an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until effective mechanisms are found to ensure that munitions and other military equipment are not used to commit serious violations of international law," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's Middle East director. 

"In addition all states should suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until there is no longer a substantial risk of human rights violations. 

"There must be no return to business as usual, with the predictably devastating consequences for civilians in Gaza and Israel." 

The release of the report came as hundreds of travellers left blockaded Gaza for Egypt, in one of the sporadic openings that enable students, patients and others with Egyptian visas to cross the border. 

About 1,000 university students and holders of foreign residency permits were eligible to cross, and by mid-afternoon Sunday, about 600 people had made the trip, border officials said. 


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