Amnesty International – 2009-04-03 23:19:33
Investigate Misuse of US Weapons in Gaza
And Stop Arms Transfers to Israel
With fragile ceasefires now in place in Gaza and southern Israel, the full extent of the devastation caused in recent weeks is becoming increasingly clear. Amnesty International researchers visiting Gaza and southern Israel during and after the fighting found evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international law by all parties to the conflict, including with many U.S. weapons.
According to Article 16 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, “A State which aids or assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so if: (a) that State does so with knowledge of the circumstances of the internationally wrongful act; and (b) the act would be internationally wrongful if committed by that State.”
Following the start of the Israeli military offensive on December 27, Israeli forces killed more than 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 300 children and many other civilians, and injured over 5,000 other Palestinians, again including many civilians. Israeli forces also destroyed thousands of homes and other property and caused significant damage to the infrastructure of Gaza, causing a worsening of the humanitarian crisis arising from the 18-month blockade maintained by Israel.
Some of the Israeli bombardments and other attacks were directed at civilians or civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip; others were disproportionate or indiscriminate. During the same period, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups continued to fire indiscriminate rockets into residential areas of southern Israel, killing three civilians.
Amnesty International researchers found fragments and components from munitions used by the Israeli Army — many U.S.-made — littering school playgrounds, in hospitals and in people’s homes. They included artillery and tank shells, mortar fins and remnants from Hellfire and other airborne missiles, large F-16 delivered bombs, and still-smoldering, highly incendiary white phosphorus remains.
For example, they found the marking PB-91K018-035 on the fragments of one of the white phosphorus artillery shells used in the Israeli attack of UNRWA’s field operations headquaters in Gaza City on January 15. This attack had caused a large fire, which destroyed tens of tons of humanitarian aid, including, medicines, food and other non-food items. The markings indicate that the shells were assembled by Pine Bluff Arsenal (PB) in 1991 (91) in October (K).
White phosphorus is a weapon intended to provide a smokescreen for troop movements on the battlefield. When each 155mm artillery shell bursts, it releases 116 wedges impregnated with white phosphorus which ignite on contact with oxygen and can scatter, depending on the height at which it is burst (and wind conditions), over an area at least the size of a football pitch.
In addition to the indiscriminate effect of air-bursting such a weapon, firing such shells as artillery exacerbates the likelihood that civilians will be affected. When white phosphorus lands on skin it burns deeply through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn until deprived of oxygen. It can contaminate other parts of the patient’s body or even those treating the injuries.
In another example, Amnesty International researchers found a fragment labeled “guided missile, surface attack”, made in the USA, at the scene of a troubling attack by the Israeli military. Three paramedics in their mid 20s – Anas Fadhel Na’im, Yaser Kamal Shbeir, and Raf’at Abd al-‘Al – were killed in the early afternoon of January 4 in Gaza City as they walked through a small field on their way to rescue two wounded men in a nearby orchard.
A 12-year-old boy, Omar Ahmad al-Barade’e, who was standing near his home indicating to the paramedic the place where the wounded were, was also killed in the same strike.
ACTION ALERT: The US Just Delivered a Massive New Arms Shipment to Israel:
Grill State Department officials for answers on why the US would deliver these arms to Israel after the violations in Gaza.
New information obtained by Amnesty researchers this week confirmed a massive shipment of U.S. weapons was delivered to Israel on March 22nd.
The administration allowed the delivery, despite clear evidence of Israeli human rights violations, some amounting to war crimes, including the controversial use of U.S. made white phosphorous munitions over densely populated areas. That’s the white phosphorous that sticks to flesh and sears it until completely deprived of oxygen.
You and I need the State Department to know that they can’t just plop tons of weapons into the hands of a known serious human rights violator without getting grilled.
Last month, our researcher from Gaza came to Washington, DC and met with State Department officials to present our evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza. They told us during those meetings that they were concerned and would review our evidence.
Take Action Now
The State Department has a moral and legal obligation to make sure U.S. weapons don’t go to foreign forces with a record of committing gross human rights violations.
So, what happened? Did they decide against overwhelming evidence that Israel’s actions were completely justified and didn’t violate numerous international and U.S. laws? Did they put any extra restrictions on the use of these new arms?
With this new shipment just landing, we have a unique opportunity to find out exactly what happened to the State Department’s review into Israel’s misuse of U.S. weapons. There should be little difficulty in simply revealing the outcome of such a review. Yes we want a full embargo. But we need to be smart and push them one step at a time.
There is no way you and I can let tons of weapons land in Israel’s hands with no questions asked.
We’ve got enough supporters to actually make something happen here. Send your letter now, and we’ll let you know what happens.
Ask Secretary Clinton Why the US
Continues to Deliver Arms to Israel
I am gravely concerned about news of a new shipment of U.S. arms to the US stockpile in Israel. Although Israel has a right to protect itself, there is clear evidence that the Israeli military used U.S. weapons for gross violations of human rights during the recent conflict in Gaza. According to U.S. law, the United States is required to refrain from supplying weapons to grave violators of human rights. Please let me know the reason behind sending these arms now.
Amnesty International recently reported that a large shipment of arms aboard the Wehr Elbe was unloaded on March 22, 2009 at the Israeli port of Ashdod. Reportedly, the ship carried 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20 feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tons. Although these weapons were destined for a U.S. stockpile in Israel, munitions from this reserve may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary.
U.S. laws such as Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act or the Leahy Law restrict the transfer of U.S. arms to foreign security forces where there is credible evidence of that force engaging in gross human rights violations. Specifically, Section 502B says “no security assistance may be provided to any country, the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” principles.
Given these concerns, I respectfully request your reply as to the reasons behind the recent transfer of U.S. arms to Israel. Specifically, has an official U.S. investigation into Israel’s use of U.S. weapons in Gaza been initiated? Also, has the U.S. government restricted the delivery of any types of U.S. weapons to Israel or put any additional stipulations on Israel’s use of U.S. weapons?