‘CHARGE ISRAEL WITH WAR CRIMES’ – Abbas condemned for not doing so

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Marchers on last Saturday’s demonstration in London demand the lifting of the siege on Gaza
Marchers on last Saturday’s demonstration in London demand the lifting of the siege on Gaza

THE fact that Acting Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has not filed any lawsuits charging Israel with war crimes is a condemnable act, said a Hamas official on Tuesday.

Hamas, in a statement said the actions raised questions about the true nature of the perspective of the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

‘It’s unfortunate that Abbas’ advisers are denying communication or requests by rights’ organisations’ on the issue of charging Israel with war crimes, said the statement.

The statement called on rights organisations to continue in their efforts to expose the Israeli war crimes in Gaza, and wait for the PA to stand by its promise to take Israel to the international courts.

Both the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements on Tuesday voiced concerns over ongoing hostilities in Gaza, according to a joint statement.

‘Hundreds of civilians are dead and many more are injured; others have had to flee their homes but are caught in the fighting,’ they said.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements said they ‘deplore the fact that many wounded people have been abandoned and left to suffer alone, unable to reach hospitals and inaccessible to ambulances and medical workers.

‘Some wounded have even died because ambulances did not receive the required clearances to reach them in time,’ the Movements added.

‘We call on the involved parties, in particular Israel, to remove restrictions on medical teams so they can do their life-saving work,’ they said.

‘We would like to reaffirm that under international humanitarian law all parties concerned have a duty to collect, care for and evacuate the wounded, without delay or discrimination,’ the statement urged.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also said they ‘salute the determination and courage of the staff and volunteers’ of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), whose ‘tireless efforts have saved countless lives.’

PRCS staff have been wounded and shot at in the course of their duties and their ambulances and properties have been severely damaged.

This has dramatically reduced the PRCS’ ability to deliver humanitarian services to the Gaza population, both the Red Cross and Red Crescent maintain.

The Movement also deplored ‘the lack of respect and protection given to medical teams, including PRCS personnel and facilities, which are clearly identified by the protective emblem of the Red Crescent.’

‘We call on the parties to the conflict to fully meet their obligation under international humanitarian law to facilitate the work of the PRCS and other neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organisations,’ they said.

‘We welcome all efforts to achieve a cessation of hostilities, and we call for the establishment of a safe passage for humanitarian assistance in order to secure the provision of relief and the provision of medical care and treatment for the victims of the conflict,’ the groups’ joint statement added.

Both groups applauded the efforts of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society (ERCS), as well, ‘which is doing its best to facilitate humanitarian access to Gaza and taking care of the victims of the conflict.’

‘We call upon the international community and donor countries to provide their full support to the humanitarian work undertaken by the Movement, which is coordinating its efforts closely with the UN system to avoid duplication and gaps,’ they said.

Meanwhile, a meeting convened by the ERCS in Cairo on 11 January served ‘to underline the way we work together, under our own respective mandates,’ the groups added.

‘Participants are committed to scale up their activities in accordance with the evolving nature of the needs,’ the Red Cross said.

The Federation, Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

• American-made Israeli F16 jets bombed a sports club in the central Gaza Strip on Monday night, killing two people and destroying houses that surrounded the club, Palestinian residents said on Tuesday.

Witnesses said the warplanes levelled the Nuseirat Ahly club in Nuseirat Refugee Camp.

A number of others were also injured in the attack.

Last week Israeli forces destroyed the International Stadium in the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza.

• An Iranian ship carrying aid to Gaza was turned back by the Israeli navy on Tuesday, Iranian radio reported.

‘An Iranian ship that was carrying foodstuff and medicine was stopped by the Zionist regime’s navy 20 miles off the coast of Gaza,’ the radio reported, adding that the ship had left the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas 13 days earlier.

On Monday night Iran’s foreign minister said the ship had passed through Egypt’s Port Said and was en route to the Israeli-blockaded the Gaza Strip.

In a statement on Tuesday morning Israel said its Navy ‘assisted in enforcing the marine closure on the Gaza Strip in preventing the entering of boats that might arrive in the area.’