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Gaza Update: Shooting at the French – and Everything that Moves

Along with today’s air strikes on Gaza which AFP report "wounded 18 Palestinians including 11 schoolchildren and a pregnant woman," there are also reports that yesterday Israeli troops fired “warning shots” at a group of diplomats, including the French consul-general:

France has summoned Israel’s ambassador to protest after Israeli troops fired warning shots as European diplomats were blocked at a Gaza border crossing, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

A diplomatic convoy carrying France’s consul general was halted by Israeli troops at the Erez border crossing on Tuesday and held for six hours as it tried to leave the Gaza Strip and return to Jerusalem, a spokesman said.

"The convoy, which included other European diplomats, was subject to two warning shots from Israeli soldiers," French spokesman Eric Chevallier said.

The diplomats did finally get to leave Gaza and were not hit.

Gazans were not so lucky during the recent attacks – and as more is learned about the orders given to Israeli soldiers, more questions are raised about war crimes:

“Fire on anything that moves in Zeitoun” – that was the order handed down to Israeli troops in the Givati Shaked battalion, who reduced the eastern Gaza City suburb to little more than rubble in a matter of days.

According to Israeli soldiers who took part in the three-week offensive, the destruction of the area, a known Hamas stronghold, was designed to send a wider message to Gazans. “We pounded Zeitoun into the ground,” an Israeli soldier who was deployed in the area, told The Times.

The soldier, who broke Israeli military censorship restrictions to talk to The Times and did not wish to be named, was part of the second wave of troops who set up positions in the neighbourhood. “Most of the positions had been secured and we heard that the [Hamas] fighters had gone into the other areas. We had been warned of traps and it was very tense. We were to shoot first and ask questions later.”

“Shoot first” seemed to be the order of the day in killings in the the Gazan town we discussed on Sunday, where two young girls were killed as they followed an Israeli order to leave their house, and emerged with a white flag.

Now McClatchy has more details of what happened in Ezbt Abed Rabbo on January 3rd, noting:

The allegation is one of at least five such white flag incidents that human rights investigators are looking into across the Gaza Strip. It’s part of a growing pattern of alleged abuses that have raised concerns that some Israeli soldiers may have committed war crimes during their 22-day military campaign in Gaza.

"The evidence we’ve gathered in two of the cases so far is exceedingly strong," said Fred Abrahams, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch working in the Gaza Strip. "All the research so far suggests they shot civilians that were leaving their homes with white flags."(h/t markfromireland)

Small wonder the demands for war crimes investigations and prosecutions continue to grow louder.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com