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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/1/14

The experts' verdict: Every Israeli missile strike is a war crime

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"Pretty indiscriminate"! So doesn't that mean Israel was committing war crimes by definition every time it made one of those thousands of air strikes that marked the start of Operation Protective Edge, and that continue to this day?

But it is not just strikes from the air that are the problem. There is more:

"However, military analysts and human rights observers say the IDF is still using unguided, indirect fire with high-explosive shells, which they argue is inappropriate for a densely populated area like Gaza ...

"[Israel's 155m howitzer] shells have a lethal radius of 50 to 150 metres and causes injury up to 300 metres from its point of impact. Furthermore, such indirect-fire artillery (meaning it is fired out of direct sight of the target) has a margin of error of 200 to 300 metres."

Read that again: a margin of error of up to 300 metres, plus a lethal radius of up to 150 metres and an injury radius of 300 metres. So that's a killing and injury zone of close to half a kilometre from the intended "precise" site of impact -- in a territory that is only a few kilometres wide and long. In short, one of the main shells Israel is using in Gaza is completely imprecise.

Set aside what Israel is trying to do in Gaza. Let us assume it is actually trying to hit military targets rather than being either reckless about hitting civilian targets or deliberately trying to hit civilians, as much of the evidence might suggest.

Even if we assume total good faith on Israel's part that it is trying to hit only Hamas and other military sites, it is clear it cannot do so even with the advanced weaponry it has. The inherent imprecision of its arsenal is compounded many fold by the fact that it is using these weapons in densely built-up areas.

So when are going to hear HRW or the United Nation's Navi Pillay stop talking about proportionality or Israel's potential war crimes, and admit Israel is committing war crimes by definition -- right now, as you read this.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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