x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Israeli general reprimanded over Gaza war shelling

The senior Israeli field officer in the Gaza war has been reprimanded over artillery shelling in a heavily populated area that hit a United Nations compound.

The senior Israeli field officer in the Gaza war has been reprimanded over artillery shelling in a heavily populated area that hit a United Nations compound during the fighting, military officials said. The officer, Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg, still heads Israel's Gaza division, one official said. Colonel Ilan Malka, an infantry brigade commander also disciplined over the incident, now runs military operations in the West Bank.

The United Nations has said some of the shells that damaged a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) compound on January 15, 2009 contained incendiary white phosphorus, whose use, condemned by human rights groups, has been called legal by Israel. Israel referred to disciplinary action against two senior officers, but did not name them, in a response it submitted on Friday to a UN report accusing Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip of war crimes. The military later identified the two officers as Brig Gen Eisenberg and Col Malka.

Referring to the UNRWA incident, the Israeli document said several artillery shells were fired "in violation of the rules of engagement prohibiting use of such artillery near populated areas". "Based on these findings, the Commander of the Southern Command disciplined a brigadier-general and a colonel for exceeding their authority in a manner that jeopardised the lives of others," it said. The international convention on weapons prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilians and their use against military targets within concentrations of civilians, except when the targets are clearly separated from civilians and all precautions are taken to avoid civilian casualties.

*Reuters