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Israel disciplines top officers over excessive shelling

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-02

Israel says it has reprimanded two senior army officers for the use of white phosphorous shells in the vicinity of a UN compound in Gaza City last year.

AFP - The Israeli military has disciplined two senior officers for the firing of white phosphorous shells toward a UN compound during the Gaza war, Israeli media said on Monday.
  
In the official response to a damning UN report on the 22-day war handed to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, Israel said a brigadier general and a colonel had been disciplined for the actions following an internal army inquiry, several local newspapers said.
  
The response did not say what the disciplinary action was.
  
The Israeli army confirmed the reports, but declined to provide further comment.
  
Local media named the two men, the highest-ranking officers that Israel has

"The two men were disciplined for excessive shelling, but not white phosphorous"

sanctioned over the war that killed 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, as Brigadier General Eyal Eisenberg and Brigade Commander Colonel Ilan Malka.
  
"The special command investigation revealed that, during the course of a military operation in Tel El Hawa, IDF forces fired several artillery shells in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas," the Ynet news website quoted Israel's response as saying.
  
The two men were found guilty of "exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardised the lives of others," the Haaretz daily quoted the response.
  
The incident occurred on January 15, 2009 when the military fired white phosphorous shells in the vicinity of a compound of the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza City with the intent of obscuring Israeli troop positions from Hamas fighters in the area, media said.
  
International law prohibits the use of white phosphorous in heavily populated civilian areas, but allows them in open areas to be used as cover for troops.
  
The UN report, authored by South African judge and former international war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, was released in September and accused both Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes.
  
It recommended its findings be passed to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court at The Hague if Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers fail to carry out credible independent investigations of the claims.
  

Date created : 2010-02-01

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