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Sunday, 22 February 2009

Amnesty calls for arms embargo of Israel and Hamas

Amnesty International called on Monday for a global arms embargo against Israel, accusing it of using white phosphorous and other weapons supplied by the United States to commit war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

In a report issued one month after Israel ended its 22-day offensive, the rights organization documented that U.S.-made weapons were used widely by Israeli forces in the Hamas-ruled enclave. Amnesty said U.S. President Barack Obama had a "particular obligation" to suspend military aid over their use.

In addition to seeking a crack down on Israel, the report called on the U.N. Security Council to impose a full arms embargo against Hamas Islamists. Amnesty said rocket attacks by Gaza militants against Israeli towns constituted a war crime.

Shunned by Western powers for refusing to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by interim peace deals, Hamas receives support from Iran and other Islamist allies.

Both Israel and Hamas dismissed the Amnesty report.

Mark Regev, spokesman for outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said it was "fundamentally flawed" and "tainted" by data provided by Hamas. He said Israel only uses weapons that are legal under international law.

"Every effort is made to avoid having innocent civilians caught up in the crossfire between us and Hamas," Regev said. "The report ignores the fact Hamas deliberately used the Palestinian civilian population as a human shield." More