Posted on June 23, 2006 in Press Releases

Calls on Bush Administration to Address Growing Casualty Toll; Letter Requests State Department Review Arms Exports to Israel

WASHINGTON – The Arab American Institute today condemned Israel for its ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip and called on the Bush Administration to address the growing number of children killed as a result of indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of highly concentrated Palestinian population centers.

In the last several days, at least 14 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombing raids in the Gaza Strip. This comes after Israeli shelling of a Gaza beach decimated a family of Palestinians enjoying a picnic and left an 11-year-old Palestinian girl wailing over her dead father.

“The Israelis continually claim they deliberately target Palestinian militants and use precision strikes,” said AAI President James Zogby. “The growing death toll of innocent Palestinians says otherwise. In the last several days the dead include 5-year-old Mohammed Roka, 6-year-old Nadia al-Sharif, 16-year-old Bilal al-Hassa and Fatima El-Barbarwi, who was 7 months pregnant. At this point in time, there is no way they can shoot into a crowd and not kill children. There is a pattern here which suggests criminal negligence, and it must stop.”

“Being repeatedly sorry after the fact is not good enough,” Zogby added. “We are calling on the State Department to investigate whether or not these attacks constitute a violation of Israel’s obligations under provisions of the Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of U.S. weapons in an offensive manner targeting a civilian population.”

AAI is sending a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requesting the State Department to review whether U.S. weapons were used and whether they were used in an offensive manner designed to inflict disproportionate damage and with reckless disregard for the surrounding civilian population.

“If there is evidence found that there has been a violation of the Arms Export Control Act, we request a determination by the Secretary of State as to whether or not a suspension of arms shipments to Israel is in order.”