Abbas says Israel committed war crimes in Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday Palestinians wanted justice from world for once.

Abbas says Israel committed war crimes in Gaza
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday Palestinians wanted justice from world for once.

In his first news conference in the Palestinian territories since Israel launched its 22-day offensive on Dec. 27 that killed a third of them children in Gaza and wounded 5,300 Palestinians, Abbas said he would back international efforts to prosecute Israel for war crimes.

"We will do all we can to prove Israel committed crimes that would make your skin crawl," Abbas said, referring to the Geneva Conventions. "We want the world to give us justice for once.

But Israel took counter-steps to prevent war crimes trials and army said it would not reveal the names of the battalion commanders who oversaw the assault in the overcrowded slums and cities of Gaza "on the ground that they could face arrest and prosecution for war crimes if they travelled abroad".

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also promised military personnel "state protection" from foreign prosecution over "war crimes" despite international calls to investigate Israel over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

"The commanders and soldiers sent to Gaza should know they are safe from various tribunals and Israel will assist them on this front and defend them," Olmert said.

The United Nations agency responsible for looking after Palestinian refugees has released photographs of what appears to be white phosphorus raining down on a UN school in Beit Lahiya on January 17.

The pictures show terrified Palestinians fleeing from burning lumps of the material, which can burn through skin to the bone. Paramedics sprint away from the incandescent core of the explosion as it engulfs a Red Crescent ambulance, before they return with stretchers to evacuate the victims.

Amnesty International, which has investigators in Gaza, said that it had found indisputable evidence that white phosphorus was used by Israeli forces in densely populated areas.

"Wasting time"

"Israel does not want peace, otherwise it would not have done this. We need to understand this and tell it to those coming from Europe and America. Israel wants to waste time to strengthen facts on the ground with settlements and the wall."

"We want a state in the 1967 borders, a fair solution to the refugee issue, removal of settlements. There will be no going beyond these points or bargaining," said Abbas, on the defensive in the Arab world before Hamas' rhetoric of resistance.

The Palestinian Authority wants to establish a state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Gaza, occupied by Israel in 1967.

U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell is due to meet Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday, after new U.S. President Barack Obama appointed him last week.

Abbas said Palestinians are looking to Obama for progress: "He (Obama) has said good things. We are waiting to see if there is seriousness during this year about the peace process."


Agencies
Last Mod: 28 Ocak 2009, 16:41
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