Kucinich: UN should investigate Israeli Gaza strikes
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called for an independent investigation to be led by the United Nations into the recent eruption of violence between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza strip that has killed scores of innocent civilians.
Monday brought a third day of Israeli bombing Gaza in what the state is calling its "all-out" war on Hamas. So far, 345 people have been killed by the bombs. At least 57 of the dead are civilians, including 21 children, according to the UN.
Kucinich said he wrote to UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon urging an "independent inquiry of Israel's war against Gaza." The Democratic lawmaker said Israel's attacks are an example of "collective punishment," which violates the Geneva Conventions.
"The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better," Kucinich said in a news release Monday. "The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel's right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation."
Kucinich compared the latest bombing campaign to Isreal's earlier strikes at southern Lebanon targeted at Hezbollah. Then too, he said, civilians were killed, infrastructure was destroyed and lawlessness took hold in the country.
"All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law. Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable," he said. "It is time for the UN to not just call for a cease-fire, but for an inquiry as to Israel's actions."
President Bush, on the other hand, has signaled a continuation of his firm support for Israel.
"In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
Congressional leaders likewise signaled support for Israel.
“I strongly support Israel’s right to defend its citizens against rocket and mortar attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza, which have killed and injured Israeli citizens, and to restore security to its residents,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Monday. “Hamas’ failure to stop these attacks only exacerbates the humanitarian situation for the residents of Gaza and undermines efforts to attain peace and security in the region.”
President-elect Barack Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, has tread lightly regarding the conflict. His transition team will only say that he continues to "monitor global events" noting, "There is one president at a time."
Israel has declared some areas around Gaza "closed military zones" and is beginning to amass tanks there saying it is prepared to continue operations as long as necessary.
"The goal of the operation is to topple Hamas," Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said on Monday in televised comments.
With wire reports