Israelis disciplined for white phosphorus attack on Gaza
While dismissing many of the allegations made in Richard Goldstone's UN report on the war, Israel has reportedly disciplined two high-ranking officers for ordering the use of controversial white phosphorus during its invasion of Gaza in early 2009.
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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has pointed out that international law permits the use of white phosphorus and the munitions are used by Western militaries. On Monday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, the IDF denied that two high-ranking officers had been disciplined, contradicting Israel's weekend report, which had been prepared by the Foreign Ministry. The IDF had previously conducted its own investigation in which it found that no white phosphorus shells were fired in violation of orders and that they were only used in remote locations.Skip to next paragraph
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YNet News reports that official statements from the Israeli army did not specify the punishment for the Israeli officers – Brig. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, the Gaza Division Commander, and Col. Ilan Malka – charged with exceeding their authority by ordering the use of white phosphorus. However, according to Reuters, Eisenberg still heads Israel's Gaza division and Malka now runs military operations in the West Bank under the same rank.
During the UN investigation of the Gaza incursion, Israel refused to cooperate with Goldstone and others involved in the inquiry. Though the report was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in November, Israel rejected the panel’s request that it launch an independent investigation to pursue possible criminal cases from the war, reports the Financial Times. Israel’s reaction caused significant damage to its image overseas, and this latest report is being seen by many as an attempt to improve international attitudes toward the nation.
The new report insists all the same that Israel has taken serious steps to scrutinise the army's conduct during the war. It says the Israeli military conducted probes of 150 incidents that took place during the conflict – significantly more than were investigated by Judge Goldstone and his colleagues. It points out that 36 of the 150 incidents have since given rise to criminal investigations, of which one has led to the indictment and conviction of a soldier.
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