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Rights Groups Condemn US Role in Gaza Conflict

Ida Wahlstrom

WASHINGTON - Decrying U.S. "complicity" in what they say amounts to Israeli violations of international law, human rights groups
are calling on the U.S. government to demand an immediate cessation of
indiscriminate violence against civilians and increased humanitarian aid to Gaza inhabitants.

"The Israeli airstrikes represent serious violations of international law -- including the Geneva Conventions and a range of international humanitarian law -- and the U.S. is complicit in all of it," wrote Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies as the Israeli attacks on Gaza began in late December.

Specifically, "Israel's lethal attack today [Dec. 28] on the Gaza Strip
could not have happened without the active military support of the
United States," charged Bennis, detailing the types of weapons -- such
as F-16 fighter planes and Apache attack helicopters -- and the amount of military aid -- $3 billion a year -- Israel receives from Washington.

"The use and threat of use of the U.S. veto in the [United Nations] Security Council and
the reliance on raw power to pressure diplomats and governments to
soften their criticism of Israel all serve to protect Israel and keep
it from being held accountable by the international community," added Bennis.

The advocacy group U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is among those that agree that Israel's assault on Gaza "would not be possible" without U.S. support in the form of military assistance and diplomatic backing at the United Nations.

Similarly, human rights monitor Amnesty International
has voiced serious concern about "attacks directed at or resulting in
harm to unarmed civilians," the deteriorating humanitarian situation in
the Gaza Strip, and the significant role the U.S. alliance with Israel
plays in the conflict.

"Without diminishing the
responsibility of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups for
indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians, the U.S.
government must not ignore Israel's disproportionate response and the
longstanding policies which have brought the Gaza Strip to the brink of
humanitarian disaster," wrote Amnesty International Senior Deputy Executive Director Curt Goering in an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week.

Highlighting the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and noting the
disproportionate impact violence has on women and children, the
women-for-peace group CODEPINK is encouraging concerned U.S. citizens to take action.

In a letter to supporters today, the group decried yesterday's Senate resolution -- passed by unanimous voice vote
-- "recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks
from Gaza and reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel
in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace

"There was nothing in this one-sided
legislation...that will help the 1.5 million Gazans who are currently
under siege," the group charged, adding: "There is nothing in this bill
that will do anything to support 'the Israeli-Palestinian peace

With a similar vote expected in the House of Representatives soon, CODEPINK is rallying its supporters to urge their members of Congress to oppose any legislation that doesn't call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as well as unimpeded access for humanitarian aid into Gaza and a lifting of Israel's blockade of vital household goods like cooking oil and baking flour.

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