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Israel names justice minister to fight war crime charges

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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has put the justice minister in charge of defending Israel against charges of war crimes during its 22-day Gaza assault, a government source said Friday.

Israel's military censor has already banned the publication of the identity of the unit leaders who fought against Hamas Islamists on the Gaza Strip for fear they may face war crimes charges.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded Tuesday that those responsible for bombing UN buildings in the Palestinian territory should be made accountable and accused Israel of using excessive force.

Amnesty International said it was "undeniable" that Israel had used white phosphorus in crowded civilian areas, contrary to international law, charging that this amounted to a war crime.

Eight Israeli human rights groups have called on the Israeli government to investigate given the scale of the casualties, describing the number of dead women and children as "terrifying."


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