‘Israel must be tried for war crimes’

DAKAR: The head of the world’s biggest Muslim body, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), called yesterday for Israelis to be tried by an international war crimes court for “heinous” attacks against Palestinians.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the 57-nation body – the second largest inter-governmental bloc after the UN – told an OIC summit in Senegal that Israel was repeatedly seeking to undermine foreign-brokered peace plans.

“The situation in Palestine remains deplorable due to the successive crises fabricated by Israel to stall the peace process and to thwart the many peace plans and initiatives proposed by the international community,” he said.

“It has become indispensable that these aggressions and heinous crimes be officially documented and their perpetrators be brought before international justice designed for these kind of acts … such as the International Criminal Court.”

Israel’s five-day offensive in Gaza last week killed more than 125 Palestinians.

An Israeli spokesman dismissed Ihsanoglu’s remarks, saying the source of the problem was rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israeli towns.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the summit that Israel’s “disproportionate and excessive use of force” had killed and injured many civilians including children and called for the violence to stop.
“I condemn these actions and call on Israel to cease such acts. Israel must fully comply with international humanitarian law and exercise utmost restraint,” Ban told the summit.

Renewed violence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, following a week of relative calm, has threatened prospects for an Egyptian-brokered truce.

Islamic Jihad fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip yesterday after an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

No one was injured by the salvo against the border town of Sderot, the first such attack by Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant faction, since March 5.

Israel, which had not struck in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in a week, attacked from the air a rocket launcher in the town of Beit Hanoun after Sderot was hit. No one was hurt.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem by banning the building of Palestinian homes and cutting the city off from the rest of the occupied West Bank.

“Our people in the city are facing an ethnic cleansing campaign through a set of Israeli decisions such as imposing heavy taxes, banning construction and closing Palestinian institutions in addition to separating the city from the West Bank by the racist separation wall,” Abbas told the OIC summit.
A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Mark Regev, condemned Abbas’s “inflammatory” comments. — AFP

Gulf Times Newspaper, 2008