A respected group of senior Israeli activists, called Physicians for Human Rights Israel, called a blistering press conference today in order to spotlight the medical ethics violations of the IDF , who they say fired on ambulances and paramedics during the Gaza invasion. Wire services, like AFP quoted below, are carrying full damning details. The United Nations' Richard Falk is calling into question the legality of Operation Cast Lead.
Israel's army violated codes of ethics and international law during the war in Gaza by attacking medics and refusing to allow the treatment of wounded, a human rights group charged on Monday.
The actions reflect a "demonization of Palestinians (which) bears a heavy price for Israeli society," warned a report by Physicians for Human Rights that called for an independent body to investigate the military's conduct during its 22-day Operation Cast Lead in Gaza that ended on January 18.
Among the offences listed by the Israeli non-governmental organisation are "attacks on medical personnel; damage to medical facilities and indiscriminate attacks on civilians not involved in the fighting."
"Israel placed numerous obstacles in the course of the operation that impeded emergency medical evacuation of the sick and wounded and also caused families to be trapped for days without food, water and medications," the report said.
"The actions ... violate directives of international law which forbid attacks on medical centres and medical teams during fighting" and "blatantly violated codes of ethics."
During the offensive, Israeli fire killed 16 Palestinian medical personnel and wounded 25 others while eight hospitals and 26 primary care clinics were attacked, according to figures from the United Nations and the group.
Among the specific incidents cited is that of a Mr. Shurrab whose two sons were shot by Israeli forces while the trio drove toward the southern city of Khan Yunis on January 16.
"One of the sons died immediately, the other bled to death for 12 hours," it said. "All that time the Israeli soldiers were within a short distance from the Shurrabs but did not provide any assistance despite the father's repeated requests."
Such incidents reflect a general demonization of Palestinians, a process that "reached its nadir when soldiers in an army that flaunts its morality declined to help evacuate injured civilians and trapped families, when soldiers acted in a trigger-happy manner as they opened fire on ambulances, medical installations and medical personnel."
"We have noticed a stark decline in IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) morals concerning the Palestinian population of Gaza, which in reality amounts to a contempt for Palestinian lives," said Dani Filc, the chairman of the group.
"It is critical that the investigation of Operation Cast Lead is completed by a neutral, external investigator without ties to the IDF."
No comment on the report was immediately available from the Israeli military.