Berlusconi defends Israel’s Gaza war as self defense 4Feb10 February 5, 2010
Press TV -Â 4 February 2010
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pledges support for the Tel Aviv regime despite the damning UN report on the Gaza war that charges Israel with war crimes.
In a speech before the Israeli parliament (Knesset), visiting Berlusconi hailed Israel as “not only the biggest example of democracy and liberty in the Middle East, but the only example,” calling the security of Israel “an ethical and moral imperative” for Italians.
The Italian premier recalled his country’s vote against the United Nations report on the Gaza war, presented to UN Human Rights Council by an independent fact finding committee headed by the South African Prosecutor Richard Goldstone.
The so-called Goldstone report “sought to criminalize Israel for responding to the rockets Hamas fired from Gaza,” Berlusconi claimed in a reference to the deadly military offensive Israel launched against the Hamas-run Gaza strip in December 2008, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians.
Released in September, the 575-page Gaza war report included various examples of war crimes and violation of international laws by the Israeli army. It charged the Israeli forces with deliberate bombardment of places known to hold Palestinian civilians, accusing them of targeting fleeing individuals that at times were even waving white flags.
The Goldstone report also accused the Palestinian resistance fighters of indiscriminate rocket attacks into southern Israeli towns, most of which landed in deserted areas without causing any casualties or serious damage to properties.
The United Nations General Assembly later in 2009 adopted a resolution giving Israel and the Palestinians three months to undertake “independent, credible investigations” into serious violations of international law and human rights committed during the conflict in Gaza.
Earlier in January, Israel submitted an official report to the United Nations and admitted that its military had “endangered human life” through the use of forbidden phosphorus munitions against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
According to the document, Israeli forces fired white phosphorus bombs at a heavily populated area on January 15, 2009 in Gaza, damaging a UN Relief and Works Agency compound.
The report charged the head of Israel’s Gaza division and an infantry brigade commander with “exceeding their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells.” The senior officers, nonetheless, are currently in charge of military operations in the occupied West Bank.