Israel is contending with accusations by Amnesty International and the United Nations war crimes allegedly committed during combat in Gaza this year. For example, on October 30 the UN Human Rights Committee published conclusions of a review of Israel`s human rights record that lamented what it considers continued punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and excessive force used by the Israel Defence Forces. The international body also denounced the reports of the use of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinians, including minors, in Israeli detention facilities. It slammed the "continuing confiscation and expropriation of Palestinian land and restrictions on access of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem."
 
The Obama administration has reacted variously to the accusations. On November 9, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki appeared to contradict earlier statements made by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen Martin Dempsey. Said Psaki, "I would point you to the Chairman’s teams for more specifics on his comments, It remains the broad view of the entire administration that they could have done more and that they should have taken more feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties."
 
Regarding the shelling of a UN-operated Palestinian school in Rafah by Israel on August 3, Psaki said at the time that the attack was "disgraceful" and that the US was "appalled." She added, “The coordinates of the school, like all UN facilities in Gaza, have been repeatedly communicated to the Israeli Defense Forces,” she said. “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians. We call for a full and prompt investigation of this incident as well as the recent shelling of other UNRWA schools.”
 
On November 6, Gen. Dempsey spoke to the Carnegie Conference on Ethics in International Affairs in New York City. "I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties,” Dempsey told the group. "In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties."


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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