by Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
Monday 23 February 2009
Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel’s extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles.
In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel.
The US has long been the largest arms supplier to Israel; under a current 10-year agreement negotiated by the Bush administration the US will provide $30bn (£21bn) in military aid to Israel.
“As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme director. “To a large extent, Israel’s military offensive in Gaza was carried out with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with US taxpayers’ money.”
From an email from Amnesty International USA
Investigate misuse of US weapons in Gaza and stop arms transfers to Israel
A new report released just hours ago reveals that U.S.-made white phosphorus artillery shells among other U.S. weapons were found throughout Gaza. When white phosphorus munitions are used in densely-populated civilian areas as Israel has, it violates international humanitarian law’s prohibition on indiscriminate attacks and amounts to a war crime.
In light of this new finding, we are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to immediately call for:
- an investigation into Israel’s use of U.S. arms in Gaza
- a suspension of U.S. military aid to Israel and
- to urge the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict
Samia Salman Al-Manay’a, 16 years old, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, when a phosphorus shell landed on the first floor of the house on January10th. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she spoke to our delegation.
“The pain is piercing. It’s as though a fire is burning in my body. It’s too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong.”
Since 2001, the U.S. has been the largest supplier of arms to Israel. The U.S. has also provided considerable funding each year for Israel to buy arms despite U.S. legislation that restricts such aid to consistently gross human rights violators. Since 2002 Israel received over $21 billion in U.S. military and security assistance. Put simply, Israel’s military intervention in the Gaza Strip has been equipped to a large extent by US-supplied weapons, munitions and military equipment paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money.
Even after the start of the current conflict and reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza, U.S. authorities continued to authorize large shipments of U.S. munitions, including white phosphorus munitions, to Israel.
In January, Amnesty called for a suspension of all arms transfers to Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups until there is no longer a serious risk that such equipment will be used for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses. The Department of State should lead the call for accountability. If we suspect our weapons are being used in attacks that are indiscriminately killing civilians, we must act.
Last month you called for an independent investigation into all parties involved in the conflict in Gaza. We are happy to report that your voice was heard. Over 45,000 messages were sent to Secretary Clinton and UN Representative Susan Rice, who highlighted the importance of an investigation. Additionally, three Members of Congress, including the highest ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Gaza and witnessed firsthand the humanitarian devastation.
Amnesty International USA
PS. Visit our blog to read more about the conflict in Gaza and the effects of white phosphorous munitions
Take Action On This Issue
Amnesty International researchers came across many US made white phosphorus artillery carrier shells, and fragments of other US produced weapons, throughout Gaza. We consider the repeated use of white phosphorus in densely-populated civilian areas a form of indiscriminate attack, and amounts to a war crime. Since 2001, the USA has been by far the major supplier of conventional arms to Israel, including government to government as well as private commercial sales. In addition to this trade, the USA has provided large funding each year for Israel to procure arms despite US legislation that restricts such aid to consistently gross human rights violators. Call for a US government investigation into Israel’s potential misuse of US made weapons in Gaza.
Amnesty urges UN to ban arms to Israel and Hamas – 23 Feb 09
The UN security council is being urged to impose an immediate arms embargo on Israel and armed Palestinian factions like Hamas.
Amnesty International is calling for the weapons blockade, after an investigation into the war on Gaza concluded both sides may be guilty of commiting war crimes.
Israel and Hamas are accused of deliberately putting civilians at risk.
But as Jacky Rowland explains, neither side is prepared to accept Amnesty’s report.