Israel can't stop legal actions on war crimes: Palestinian FM

Olmert promised military personnel "state protection" from foreign prosecution over "war crimes" despite int'l calls to probe Israel over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Israel can't stop legal actions on war crimes: Palestinian FM
A pledge by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to give Israeli soldiers "state protection" from foreign prosecution over possible war crimes in the Gaza Strip, despite international calls to investigate, cannot prevent such legal action, a senior Palestinian official said on Sunday.

"It does not mean there is an immunity against legal actions," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said after meeting counterparts from the European Union, Egypt, Turkey and Jordan.

"More of such efforts will be seen also in the near future," he told a news conference, without referring to any specific plans for legal action.

"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.

Last week, the military censor ordered local and foreign media in Israel to blur the faces of army commanders in photos and video footage of the Gaza war on the ground that "they could be identified and arrested while travelling abroad."

Israeli media reports said the military had been advising its top brass "to think twice about visiting Europe".

Meanwhile, Hamas said that it is forming a commission to document psosible war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during Gaza visit, he expected Israel to provide urgently a full explanation of attacks on U.N. facilities in Gaza and said those responsible must be held accountable.

The Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council had last week said it would send a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli assault in Gaza.

MAZLUMDER, Turkish human rights group, also went to Gaza to probe violations during Israeli bombings and assault.

Israel killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children in the 22-day military aggression on Gaza and wounded 5,300 Palestinians, and Gaza infrastructure suffered massive damage totaling some 476 million dollars, according to Palestinian medics and officials.

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.

Eight Israeli human rights groups have also called on the Israeli government to investigate given the scale of the casualties, describing the number of dead women and children as terrifying.

Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2009, 11:08
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