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Israel in the dock over attack on Gaza

A mother and child sit among the ruins of their home in Rafah, southern Gaza, one of 4,000 homes destroyed in the war
A mother and child sit among the ruins of their home in Rafah, southern Gaza, one of 4,000 homes destroyed in the war
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An Israeli soldier stands infront of pale blue 155mm rounds marked M825A1. According to Jane's Missiles and Rockets the M825A1 rounds are US-made white phosphorus munitions.
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City. The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Unitet Nations worker is seen as smoke billows from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Smoke rises after an Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip, as seen from the Israeli side of the border between southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, Thursday Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
United Nations workers and Palestinian firefighters work to try and put out a fire and save bags of food aid at the United Nations headquarters after it was hit in Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
United Nations workers and Palestinian firefighters work to try and put out a fire and save bags of food aid at the United Nations headquarters after it was hit in Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee their neighborhood following an Israeli army operation in Gaza city, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian man reacts as he holds a blood stained sheet at the entrance to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. (AP Photo/Thaer Al-Hasani)
Israeli reserve soldiers rejoice as they see others crossing back into Israel from a combat mission in the Gaza Strip, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Flares and smoke are seen during an Israeli military operation in downtown Gaza City, early Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A shell fired from an Israeli Army tank explodes over a building in the outskirts of Gaza City, as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border
A Lebanese student protester, flashes a V sign during a demonstration to protest against the Israel's ground attack on the Gaza Strip, in front of the European Commission, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli ground troops battled Palestinian militants in the streets of a densely populated Gaza City neighborhood early Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and sending terrified residents running for cover as gunfire and explosions echoed in the distance. (AP Photo / Hussein Malla)
Fares al-Dali drinks tea as he sits on a pile of wood and cartons in a house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. In the al-Dali family's two-room shack in the Shati refugee camp, 21 people _ half of them relatives who fled the fighting _ take turns sleeping because the family doesn't have enough mattresses. For lack of fuel, they cook on trash fires _ paper and cartons collected in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians salvage belongings from an apartment building following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Jan.13, 2009.Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian runs past graffiti reading "the anniversary of the movement of the free" as smoke rises following an explosion caused by Israeli military operations in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Mariam Khalid, 2, holds a Palestinian flag with writing in Arabic reading "An Arab Palestine" as she is held by her mother Nagwa, at a candlelit vigil in a show of mourning and support for those who have died in Gaza, at Talaat Harb square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israel's offensive in Gaza has sparked widespread anger across the Middle East, and Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, has come under criticism for only allowing limited openings of its border - a move seen by many as abetting Israel's siege of Gaza's 1.4 million residents. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
A relative leans over the body of Palestinian Islamic jihad militant Muhammed Al-Hour, in his family house during his funeral, in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Khaled Omar)
Israeli army armored vehicles drives towards Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on a combat mission, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli soldier prays on top of a mobile artillery position in a staging area near Israel's border with Gaza, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli Army soldier prepares for morning prayers next to his armoured vehicle on the Israeli side of Israel-Gaza border Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
An Israeli army mortar squad fires a round towards a target in the Gaza Strip, from the Israel side of the border, in southern Israel, Monday Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, gestures while heading a PLO Executive Committee meeting at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli ground troops battled Palestinian militants in the streets of a densely populated Gaza City neighborhood early Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and sending terrified residents running for cover as gunfire and explosions echoed in the distance. (AP Photo / Muhammed Muheisen)
An Israeli attack helicopter fires a flare as seen from the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Monday Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and tunnels Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children and six other civilians, as they consolidated a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian man holds his head in his hands as he reacts at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children as they pressed a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
Palestinians carry a boy into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, wounded during the Israeli army operation in Gaza, Sunday Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against the Hamas group gained momentum. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
An Israeli soldier wounded in the Gaza Strip arrives at Soroka Hospital in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.The expansion of Israel's offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers into ground battles and artillery salvos is taking a heavier toll on the civilians of the crowded sliver of land, including three toddlers killed Monday by the blast of a crashing shell. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
Flares from Israeli forces' operations are seen over Gaza City, as seen from southern Israel, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children as they pressed a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
A Palestinian man reacts after bringing his children who were wounded in an Israeli army incursion into hospital in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israel seized control of high-rise buildings and attacked houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels as it pressed forward with its offensive against the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers on Monday, even as a stream of European leaders headed for the region to press for a truce. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian demonstrator holds a burning police hat aloft outside the Israeli Embassy on December 29, 2008 in London, England
Palestinians search for bodies in the rubble of the destroyed house of Hamas senior leader Nizar Rayan after an Israeli missiles strike in the refugee camp of Jabaliya on January 1, 2009 in Gaza
A child arrives at Shifa hospital in Gaza City after an Israeli air strike yesterday
Samera Baalusha (34) carries her surving child Mohamad (15 months) while she waits to see the body of her daughter Jawaher Baalusha (aged 4) during the funeral held for her and four of her sisters who were killed in an Israeli missile strike, on December 29, 2008 in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Jawher Baalusha and four of her sisters were killed during an Israeli air raid while they were sleeping together in their bedroom.
You will be martyrs: These were the words spoken by the surviving sister as her five siblings, Jawaher, four, Dina, eight, Samar, 12, Ikram, 15 and Tahrir, 17, lay dying beneath the rubble of their home
Smoke rises above Gaza after another Israeli air strike on a Hamas target, December 29, 2008 along Israel's side of the Gaza border. The Israeli Air Force continued its strike of the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip for a third consecutive day, killing 307 Palestinians in the air raids, as Israel prepared to launch a possible invasion.
In this image taken from APTN video young men carry a badly injured man on a stretcher to an awaiting vehicle after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
Palestinian prisoners flee over the rubble of the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit during an Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Some 280 Palestinians have been killed and 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday, a Gaza health official said. Most of the dead were Hamas police. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians carry the body of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians gather at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians carry the body of a Palestinan from the rubble following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008.Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
A Palestinian girl wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An Israeli police officer inspects damage to a house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza which killed a man in the southern Israeli town of Netivot near Gaza, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An injured Palestinian security force officer from Hamas crawls as he waits for assistance at the site of an Israeli missile strike at the security headquarters in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Thaer Al-Hasani)
Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israeli strikes in Gaza in the Jerusalem neighborhood of A-tur, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
An Israeli soldier prays on top of a tank at a staging area near the Sufa Crossing just outside the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.More than 270 Palestinians, most of them militants, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli police officers scuffle with Israeli left wing activists during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian family rushes from the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.More than 270 Palestinians, most of them militants, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday. (AP Photo/MaanImages, Hatem Omar)
A bulldozer tries to push sand on a fire after an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans covered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar,MaanImages)
Palestinians gather at the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. More than 270 Palestinians _ most of them militants _ have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar,MaanImages)
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish fire at a burning building after an Israeli missile strike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants dropped bombs and missiles on a top security installation and dozens of other targets across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Sunday. Israel's Cabinet authorized a callup of at least 6,500 reserve soldiers, suggesting plans to expand an offensive against Gaza rocket squads that has already killed some 280 Palestinians. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
An injured Palestinian prisoner is helped as he and others flee through the rubble of the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit in an Israeli missile strike in in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. More than 270 Palestinians have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Israeli hospital patients and their families wait in a bomb shelter in Ashkelon Barzily hospital, southern Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Palestinians gather in the crater of an Israeli missile strike on a building used by the Islamic group Hamas in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. More than 270 Palestinians, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli Arabs and left wing activists wave Palestinians flags during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian woman cries during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)
Hundreds of Hamas supporters protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo Bassem/ Tellawi)
A Palestinian man gives an Hamas Islamic symbol during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi)
A Palestinian women and supporter of Hamas accompanied by a child are seen during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi).
Smoke rises from Israeli missile strikes in the northern Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli community of Netiv Hasara, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in an unprecedented series of simultaneous strikes. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. Health Ministry official Moawiya Hassanain said at least 120 people were killed. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A Palestinian security force officer carries a wounded girl into the emergency room at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades.(AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
Israeli soldiers fire rubber bullets and throw stun grenades at Palestinian demonstrators during clashes following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Smoke rises over Gaza City, following an Israeli air strike at the Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
Palestinian women run away during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians wounded in Israeli missile strikes are seen in the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians gather at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians run for cover following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinian children and a man wounded in Israeli missile strikes are seen in the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian relatives of security force officers of the Islamic group Hamas react after seeing their bodies at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Israeli soldiers run away to avoid a stun grenade thrown by another soldier by mistake during clashes with Palestinians, following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Palestinian firefighters try to assist at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
In this image taken from APTN video, Palestinian men carry two injured children into hospital after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
In this image taken from APTN video young men carry a badly injured man on a stretcher to an awaiting vehicle as debris lies in the road after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
In this image taken from APTN video men stand outside a destroyed police station after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
An explosion from an Israeli missile strike in the northern Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli community of Netiv Hasara, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
A Palestinian demonstrator dressed as Santa Claus uses a sling-shot to hurl stones at Israeli border police during a demonstration against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008. Israel says the barrier is necessary for security while Palestinians call it a land grab.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

By the time the shooting stopped, more than 100 Palestinians had been killed for every Israeli who died. Was every death lawful? And, if not, where does the fault lie? Raymond Whitaker and Donald Macintyre report

Did Israel – or its enemy, Hamas – commit war crimes during 22 days and nights of aerial assault, rocket launches and ground fighting in Gaza?

In one sense the question is academic, because Israel will not recognise the conflict as an international one, and has not signed the 1977 Geneva protocol designed to apply to the victims of internal conflicts. But international lawyers say general principles can be drawn from the laws of war, which may have been violated in several ways.



The main issues are these:



Proportionality



Up to 10 times as many Palestinians were killed as Israelis. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says 1,314 Palestinians were killed, of whom 412 were children or teenagers under 18, and 110 were women. On the Israeli side, there were 13 deaths between 27 December and 17 January, of whom three were civilians killed by rockets fired from Gaza. Of the 10 soldiers killed, four were lost to "friendly fire".



Even if the Palestinian figure is disputed, it is clear that the death toll was massively higher for Palestinians than Israelis. Proportionality is not simply a matter of numbers, however. There will also be a debate over whether the destruction wrought by Israel's huge land, sea and air arsenal was proportionate to the threat posed by Hamas militants to civilians – itself also a violation of international humanitarian law.



With foreign journalists barred from Gaza by Israel throughout the war, it is especially hard to come by hard information on the exact circumstances in which all civilian casualties were caused. But unofficial comment from senior military officers in the Israeli media have suggested that a deliberate choice was made to put the protection of its soldiers first, and that of civilians second. If true, it appears to have been successful, but even if it wasn't, the "collateral damage" inflicted on civilians appears to have significantly exceeded the norms even of previous Israeli operations in Gaza, suggesting looser rules of engagement for military operations.



The head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, pointed out that there was an "expansive" definition of military targets, to include civilian government offices, police stations and the parliament building, on the grounds they at least indirectly helped Hamas.



Firing into urban areas

Israeli forces did not penetrate into the heart of Gaza City or Khan Yunis. But many of the areas where they deployed their forces were heavily built up. Probably the most lethal incident was the 6 January mortar attack that hit the UN school being used as a shelter for hundreds who had fled their homes in the northern Gaza town of Jabalya. It killed 30 straight away, and an estimated 13 more died from their critical injuries in subsequent days.



Israel's initial claim in this and several other incidents was that it was responding to fire from Hamas. The militants could be at fault for "locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas", in the words of the Geneva Conventions. But the conventions also forbid any attack expected to cause death or injury to civilians "which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated" – a rule Israel is accused of breaking several times.



Though it fortunately caused no deaths and only two injuries, the incident in which shells containing phosphorus hit the UN Relief and Works Agency headquarters – where many were also sheltering – was almost as high profile. Not only did they set fire to food and medical supply warehouses, they landed as the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, was holding meetings with Israeli leaders. UN chiefs vigorously denied Israeli suggestions made in the media, though apparently not to the UN itself, that Hamas gunmen had been sheltering in UN premises. In the first case Chris Gunness, UNRWA's chief spokesman, revealed that diplomats had been told by the Israeli authorities that Hamas was not operating from the school. And in the second, Mr Ban said that Israel's Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, had acknowledged a "grave mistake".



White phosphorus



White phosphorus – which can cause horrific injuries, and is heavily restricted in international law – is now widely accepted to have been used by Israel in this war at several locations. Dating originally from the First World War, white phosphorus and its distinctive plumes of white smoke can legally be used to mark objectives, spread smoke for concealment or set fire to military targets, but not in civilian areas. Israel first denied using it at all, then claimed it was being used only in uninhabited areas, and then last week announced an investigation into its use.



A high school student Mahmoud al-Jamal, 18, was lucky to have been hit by phosphorus shelling during the third week of the war. By the time he reached the care of Gaza City's Shifa hospital, unconscious and severely burned in his left arm, legs and chest, the head of the burns unit, Dr Nafez abu Shaban knew the only hope of saving him lay with surgery. Shifa had no experience of it before 27 December, but "by the last week of the war we knew that we had to get the patient to the operating room and excise all the burnt tissue".



Mahmoud was running from the heavy fighting between Hamas gunmen and Israeli forces in the southern Gaza city district of Tel Al Hawa when a shell dropped in front of him. "I could feel my whole body burning," he said. "I fell and asked someone next to me to help. But he was dead. Then I fainted." Part of his body was still smouldering when he was being anaesthetised in theatre. "A piece extracted itself from his body and burned the anaesthetist on his chest," said Dr Shaban. Mahmoud will live; unconfirmed estimates are that dozens of others burned by phosphorus have not survived.



Dime bombs and other unusual weapons



While the vast majority of Palestinians were killed by conventional weapons, a Norwegian doctor, Erik Fosse, said injuries he had seen in Gaza were consistent with the use of Dime (dense inert metal explosive) bombs. "It was as if [patients] had stepped on a mine, but there was no shrapnel in the wounds," he said. A UN convention, which Israel has signed, prohibits "the use of any weapon the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which in the human body escape detection by X-rays". This could apply to Dime bombs, but by their nature it is extremely difficult to prove they have been used.



Amnesty International last week called on Israel to give details of weapons beside phosphorus it had used in Gaza, so that medics could better treat the injuries they inflict. Donatella Rovera of Amnesty, currently on a munitions fact-finding mission to Gaza, said doctors were encountering "new and unexplained injuries, including charred and sharply severed limbs" after air strikes. The UK human rights agency also quoted Dr Subhi Skeik of Shifa hospital's surgery department as saying: "We have many cases of amputations and vascular reconstructions where patients would be expected to recover in the normal way. But to our surprise, many of them died an hour or two after operation. It is dramatic."



Dr Shaban of Shifa's burns unit said surgical colleagues had encountered bloodless amputations of limbs after attacks during the war, and that some Egyptian and Jordanian doctors with experience in Lebanon and Iraq had suggested that Dime bombs could be responsible. But both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch's weapons expert Mark Galasco, who is also in Gaza, are highly cautious about speculating on the possibility of Dime, not least because of the difficulty of finding provable traces of it.



Israel has always insisted that its weaponry – including controversial flechette darts, which have been used in Gaza before and have been found so far in two northern Gaza locations this time – is legal. There is no outright ban on Dime bombs, flechettes or even white phosphorus. It is the time and the manner in which they are used that can be illegal.



Targeting of civilians



Israel has continued to contrast what it says are its strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties with Hamas's undoubtedly deliberate targeting of civilians with Qassam rockets. There have, however, been several cases in which Palestinian civilians were hit while taking shelter. In other incidents, people in Gaza said they were fired on while seeking to flee to safety, in some cases waving white flags.



In the most widely publicised case, the UN says 80 members of the Samouni family were sheltering in a warehouse hit by missiles early on 5 January, killing 29. Several survivors said they had been ordered by the army to go there the previous day. Meanwhile, Khaled Abed Rabbo said a single soldier shot three of his young daughters from a tank, killing two, as they obeyed orders to flee their home on the outer edge of Jabalya. He suggested it was a deliberate act, The army is investigating, but reaffirms that "the IDF does not target civilians".



Yesterday Mr Rabbo's mother Suad, 54, who was shot in the arm and abdomen at the same time, corroborated his account. She said she, her daughter and her seven-year-old granddaughter were all carrying white flags when they were shot. She did not see the soldier who fired, but insisted there were no Palestinian fighters in the vicinity.



Humanitarian aid

While basic humanitarian supplies, including medicine, continued to flow into Gaza from Israel during the war, the UN and other agencies complained more than once that there were severe problems in distributing food and other aid within Gaza because of continuing security problems. These were compounded when a driver contracted by UNRWA was shot dead near the Erez crossing as he prepared to load food, ready for moving it south during a three-hour humanitarian pause.



There were also several complaints from the Red Cross and Israeli human rights agencies that medics and rescue services were prevented from reaching the wounded and dead. Four weak and terrified children from the Samouni family were finally found by the Red Cross, two days after the attack that killed 29 other family members.



After the ground attack started, one convoy, consisting of an ICRC truck and a Palestinian Ministry of Health truck, both carrying medical supplies for hospitals in southern Gaza, and 13 ambulances carrying intensive care patients to Egyptian hospitals, had to turn back after the ICRC driver was shot and injured near a military checkpoint in the centre of the strip.



Fuel shortages and power cuts continued to deprive about a million Gazans of electricity at any one time. Sewage and water supplies were badly hit, because pumps could not operate.



Source: Independent

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