Palestinians want trial for leaders, IDF

Palestinians demand that

Palestinians across the political spectrum on Wednesday welcomed the findings of the UN commission of inquiry into Operation Cast Lead and called to bring Israeli government officials and IDF officers to trial for "war crimes." Hamas and several Palestinian factions, however, rejected the report's accusations that the Islamist movement had also perpetrated crimes against humanity. Like the majority of the mainstream Arab media, Palestinian newspapers gave prominence to the accusations against Israel while completely ignoring or downplaying those directed by the commission toward Hamas. Al-Quds, the largest Palestinian daily, ran a headline on its front page that read: "Israel perpetrated war crimes and violated international human law." The popular London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, for instance, totally ignored the allegations against Hamas. In its editorial, the paper said: "The massacres perpetrated by the Israeli forces during the aggression on the Gaza Strip don't need an international commission of inquiry to be authenticated. The whole world followed these massacres live through TV screens." The paper said that it remained now to be seen what punitive measures would be taken against Israel. "Issuing a report and condemning Israel in a soft language can't be seen as doing justice to the victims and their families," it said. "Will we now see UN sanctions imposed on Israel like the ones that were imposed against Sudan, Libya and Iraq?" Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the report was an "obvious indictment" against Israel for its alleged war crimes. Haniyeh claimed that Israel had used half of its air force and killed Palestinians "en masse" during the war. He added that there was no room for drawing comparisons between Hamas's power and Israel's military arsenal. "The UN report provides hard evidence that Israel had committed crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. "In light of this clear report, the international community must bring the leaders of the Zionist enemy before the International Criminal Court." Dismissing the charges against Hamas, Barhoum said that the "resistance" of the Palestinians was a legitimate state of self-defense. "The resistance, which came as a result of the Israeli aggression, was in accordance with international laws." Barhoum said that the report was unfair and imbalanced because it "likened the executioner to the victim." An alliance of several Palestinian factions based in Syria described the UN report as the "beginning of the awakening of the international community." The factions also rejected the allegations against Hamas, stressing that international law "guaranteed the right of the Palestinians to carry out resistance operations against occupation." They too said that the report should serve as the basis for putting Israeli political leaders and IDF officers and soldiers on trial before an international court. Palestinian political analyst Ghassan al-Shami condemned the UN report for its criticism of the rockets fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Describing the rocket attacks as an act of self-defense, Shami asked: "Is this the standard of applied by the United Nations? Is the United Nations putting the power of Israel, with all the US military aid it receives, with self-defense means and home-made rockets that are in the possession of Palestinian factions on an equal footing? Does the United Nations consider resistance and self-defense a war crime?" Echoing the Hamas line, the analyst advised the UN to display justice in its laws. "The executioner and victim should not be placed on the same scale," he said. "The United Nations must oblige Israel to respect international laws and see to it that war generals are brought to trial before the International Criminal Court."