Gaza Conflict Triggers Talk of War Crimes

With battles on pause, new fight begins over legality of assault
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2009 9:52 AM CST
Hamas policemen walk past the destroyed Parliament building in Gaza City in the Gaza strip, Friday, Jan. 23, 2009.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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(Newser) – Now that its 22-day offensive in Gaza has ended, Israel is facing a new battle—over the legality and morality of its military action. Several human rights groups, in Israel and elsewhere, have accused the army of committing war crimes in Gaza's cities and denying medical care and refuge to civilians. But PM Ehud Olmert said his government would "stand like a fortified wall" to protect officers from prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Israel in turn has accused Hamas of war crimes, for firing rockets at civilians in southern Israel and for using civilians and human shields. But it is Israel's action—criticized as out of proportion—receiving the most scrutiny, and the senior UN official in Gaza has called for an inquiry into possible war crimes. While Israel strongly denies any impropriety, it now insists that officers only give TV interviews with their faces blurred—lest they face international charges.