[JURIST] Advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR) [advocacy website, in Hebrew] Monday criticized [press release, in Hebrew] the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) [official website] for allegedly violating its own code of ethics [text] and general principles of human rights by impeding the treatment those needing medical care during Israel's recent Gaza offensive [JURIST report]. In a new report [PDF] the group accused the IDF of preventing the sick and wounded from evacuating homes and medical facilities in pursuit of better treatment during the offensive, leading to otherwise preventable deaths. PHR also said it had received reports of the IDF attacking ambulances, medical teams and medical facilities. In a report [text, PDF] published last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) [advocacy website] estimated that 1,380 Palestinians and 16 medical workers were killed during the offensive and at least 5,380 Palestinians and 25 were injured.
The IDF's conduct during the offensive has been scrutinized by a number of human rights advocacy groups. Last week, a group of 16 human rights investigators and judges sent an open letter [text; JURIST report] to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile; JURIST news archive] and the UN Security Council calling for an investigation into alleged war crimes. In January, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an independent investigation [statement text; JURIST report] of possible war crimes and human rights violations in Gaza. International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is also attempting to gain jurisdiction over Israel [JURIST report] to investigate its actions in Gaza for alleged war crimes. Israel has already begun to consider defenses against possible war crimes charges, partly based on accusations [JURIST reports] that it used white phosphorus in a civilian area.