Jan. 15 2010 (AP). Israelis who authorized the use of white phosphorous in densely populated Gaza should be tried for war crimes, a British Labour Party legislator said Friday, after entering the Hamas-ruled territory with 60 European parliamentarians.
The lawmakers are visiting Gaza to draw attention to the territory’s “evil blockade” by Israel and Egypt, said the Labour legislator, Gerald Kaufman . The closure was first imposed in 2006, after Hamas-allied militants captured an Israeli soldier.
Kaufman also spoke in support of attempts by pro-Palestinian groups in Britain to get Israeli politicians and army officers arrested once they step on British soil. Britain has a “universal jurisdiction” law that allows prosecution of alleged war criminals whose crimes have no direct connection with Britain.
“We have had a fuss in our country about the inability of certain Israeli politicians to visit Britain for fear of being arrested,” said Kaufman, frequently an outspoken critic of Israeli policies. “Anybody who uses white phosphorus should be arrested and should be tried for war crimes.”
“But when we read of an Israeli politician being afraid of being arrested in Britain, we remember that 1.5 million people in Gaza are under arrest every day of their lives by the Israelis, suffering depravation, hunger, lack of satisfactory medical treatment, lack of screws to put school desks together so your children can learn,” Kaufman added.
In Beirut, meanwhile, the top leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, urged Egypt to stop its construction of an underground steel wall along its border with Gaza. Walls are built “between enemies, not brothers,” Mashaal said in a rare criticism of Egypt.
Egypt’s underground anti-tunnel barrier of steel beams, now under construction, could eventually seal Gaza’s southern border, block hundreds of smuggling tunnels and deprive Gaza’s Hamas rulers of their only lifeline.
Speaking at a conference in Beirut, the Damascus, Syria-based Mashaal urged Egypt to take “its rightful, leading role” in the Arab and Muslim world and force Israel to lift its siege on Gaza.