For Immediate Release
Paige Cram, NLG Communications Coordinator,
American Lawyers in Gaza: Evidence That Israel Violated International Law, US Domestic Law Implicated
NEW YORK - Israel violated international law by targeting
civilians and civilian infrastructure, misusing weapons, deliberately
denying medical care to the wounded and attacking medical personnel,
the National Lawyers Guild Delegation to Gaza said today upon releasing
a 37 page report containing new evidence on the facts surrounding
Israel's 22 day military offensive in Gaza. The full report can be
viewed at www.nlg.org. Photos are also available upon request.
"Our findings join a growing chorus of voices-which include Israeli
soldiers themselves-asserting that Israeli forces deliberately targeted
civilians during the Gaza offensive," said Radhika Sainath, one of the
attorneys who initiated the seven-day fact-finding delegation to Gaza.
"On a number of occasions, Israeli soldiers shot and killed young
children as well as unarmed civilians holding white flags-both
violations of the laws of war."
The Delegation also uncovered evidence of Israeli soldiers using
Palestinians as human shields, acts that constitute war crimes, as well
as evidence that the Israeli military targeted civilian infrastructure
and grossly misused weapons. Further, Israel denied the wounded access
to medical care and routinely fired on emergency medical teams
attempting to reach those in need of help. Paramedics and doctors
reported to the Delegation that many civilians could have been saved if
the Israeli army allowed Palestinian medical services access to the
wounded. "On one occasion, when Israeli forces did allow Palestinian
medical services to enter an area after four days, soldiers prohibited
their ambulances from approaching and paramedics were forced to pile
the injured on donkey carts," reported Reem Salahi, a California-based
civil rights attorney. "Medical workers were then forced to pull the
carts to their ambulances two kilometers away."
The Delegation is calling on the Obama Administration and Congress
to investigate the possible misuse of U.S. defense articles by Israel
during the Gaza offensive. The Delegation is also calling for the Obama
Administration to immediately suspend military aid to Israel until
protocols are in place to assure compliance with international
humanitarian law. "The United States must take action to ensure that
its U.S. foreign assistance is not used in violation of international
law," said Thomas Nelson, an Oregon-based attorney specializing in
national security law.
A National Lawyers Guild delegation of seven attorneys and one law
student traveled to the Gaza Strip from February 2-8, 2009, to
investigate the 22 day Israeli military offensive into Gaza that began
on December 27, 2009. The objective of the Delegation was to
investigate the circumstances that led to the massive Palestinian
casualties, to determine what, if any, violations of international law
occurred, and whether U.S. domestic law was implicated as a consequence.
The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members--lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees--the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.