Amnesty Int'l. Blasts Israel for Gaza Operation

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GAZA STRIP - Amnesty International's 2009 annual report condemned Israel's three-week military operation in the Gaza Strip in January, saying it left Gaza at "the brink of disaster."

The report, subtitled "The state of the world's human rights," held Israel solely responsible for the collapse of the six-month cease-fire with Hamas in 2008, which precipitated the Gaza incursion.

In the report, Amnesty accused IDF troops of repeatedly targeting Gaza's civilian population, causing "an immeasurable number of casualties," in contrast with a handful of Israelis killed by "home-made rockets."

According to the human rights organization, Israel's economic blockade of the Gaza Strip fosters "collective punishment" that has "exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation, health and sanitation problems, poverty and malnutrition for the 1.5 million residents."

The report also accused Israel of denying chronically ill Gaza residents treatment in Israeli hospitals and preventing "hundreds of students and workers wishing to study or travel to jobs abroad" from leaving the Strip.

The annual report further stated that smuggling tunnels under the border with the Egyptian Sinai are used primarily to funnel food and fuel to Gazans, not weaponry and munitions.

NGO Monitor, a research organization headquartered in Jerusalem, called the report "highly biased" and lacking "credibility."

"Hamas's highly visible preparations for resumed Palestinian aggression during the six-month cease-fire in 2008, including preparation of a human-shields strategy, are entirely ignored," the NGO Monitor said.

"Amnesty's activities in the Middle East are totally divorced from reality and constitute a continued attack on the moral foundation of human rights," NGO Monitor Executive Director and Bar Ilan University Professor Gerald Steinberg said.

"The world's most prominent human rights organization continues to abuse this position to join the ideological campaign that seeks to single out Israel for condemnation, promote the Palestinian narrative, and erase the context of mass terror and aggression by Hamas," Steinberg said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet news

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