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Israel created ‘terror without mercy’ in Gaza

Rory McCarthy | The Guardian

7 April 2009

The Israeli military attacked civilians and medics and delayed – sometimes for hours – the evacuation of the injured during the January war in Gaza, according to an independent fact-finding mission commissioned by Israeli and Palestinian medical human rights groups.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society yesterday said their findings showed Israel’s military committed serious violations of international humanitarian law. In their 92-page report, compiled by five senior health experts from across the world, they documented several specific attacks, with interviews from 44 separate witnesses.

Human rights groups have accused Israel’s military, as well as Palestinian militants in Gaza, of war crimes. “The underlying meaning of the attack on the Gaza Strip, or at least its final consequence, appears to be one of creating terror without mercy to anyone,” the report said.

In one incident, the researchers found a Palestinian, Muhammad Shurrab, 64, and his sons Qassab, 28, and Ibrahim, 18, were shot by Israeli troops at close range without warning on 16 January during a ceasefire. Qassab was hit in the face and died soon after. Ibrahim was hit in the leg. The soldiers refused to give medical aid, and only after 23 hours was an ambulance allowed to approach, by which time Ibrahim was also dead.

Yohanna Lerman, a lawyer with the medical rights groups, said although their report was a preliminary investigation this one case alone was enough to indict Israel’s political and military leaders.

The Israeli military has said it does not target civilians and is conducting its own investigations into some cases arising from the war.