Israeli officials who authorized the use of white phosphorous in densely populated Gaza should be tried for war crimes, a British Labour Party legislator said Friday, after entering the Hamas-ruled territory with 60 European parliamentarians.
Human rights groups have alleged that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during Israel's three-week offensive against Gaza, which ended a year ago. Among other things, Israel was cited for firing white phosphorous flares, which can cause horrific burns.
Israel and Hamas have denied war crimes allegations.
"The lawmakers are visiting Gaza to draw attention to the territory's evil blockade by Israel and Egypt," said the Labour legislator, Gerald Kaufman.
Kaufman also spoke in support of attempts by pro-Palestinian groups in Britain to get Israeli politicians and army officers arrested once they step on British soil. Britain has a universal jurisdiction law that allows prosecution of alleged war criminals whose crimes have no direct connection with Britain.
"We have had a fuss in our country about the inability of certain Israeli politicians to visit Britain for fear of being arrested," said Kaufman, frequently an outspoken critic of Israeli policies. "Anybody who uses white phosphorus should be arrested and should be tried for war crimes."
"But when we read of an Israeli politician being afraid of being arrested in Britain, we remember that 1.5 million people in Gaza are under arrest every day of their lives by the Israelis, suffering depravation, hunger, lack of satisfactory medical treatment, lack of screws to put school desks together so your children can learn," Kaufman added.
Last week, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that aid convoys bound for the Gaza Strip will now be banned from traveling across Egypt after activists led by British MP George Galloway clashed with police.
Last Tuesday clashes erupted between members of the convoy and Egyptian riot police in the Mediterranean port city of El-Arish that left one Egyptian security guard dead and dozens of protesters and police injured.
Aboul Gheit told government newspaper Al-Ahram that members of one convoy led by Galloway committed "criminal" acts on Egyptian soil on their way to Gaza.
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