Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel's extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles.
In a report released today, Amnesty International listed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the US president, Barack Obama, to suspend military aid to Israel.
The human rights group said those arming both sides in the conflict "will have been well aware of a pattern of repeated misuse of weapons by both parties and must therefore take responsibility for the violations perpetrated".
The US has long been the largest arms supplier to Israel; under a 10-year agreement negotiated by the Bush administration the US will provide $30bn (£21bn) in military aid to Israel.
"As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme director. "To a large extent, Israel's military offensive in Gaza was carried out with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with US taxpayers' money."
For their part, Palestinian militants in Gaza were arming themselves with "unsophisticated weapons" including rockets made in Russia, Iran and China and bought from "clandestine sources", it said. About 1,300 Palestinians were killed and more than 4,000 injured during the three-week conflict. On the Israeli side 13 were killed, including three civilians. Amnesty said Israel's armed forces carried out "direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, and attacks which were disproportionate or indiscriminate".
Israeli officials criticised the report, saying the military only used weapons that were legal under international law and did not intentionally target civilians. Israel's foreign ministry said it was "inappropriate" to compare the supply of weapons to Israel and to Hamas.
"Every effort is made to avoid having innocent civilians caught up in the crossfire between us and Hamas," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert. "The report ignores the fact Hamas deliberately used the Palestinian civilian population as a human shield."
Palestinian militants also fired "indiscriminate rockets" at civilians, Amnesty said. It called for an independent investigation into violations of international humanitarian law by both sides.
A Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, called the report "unfair", saying there was no comparison between the Israeli military and Palestinian "people who defend themselves with some rifles and other primitive means".
Amnesty researchers in Gaza found several weapon fragments after the fighting. One came from a 500lb (227kg) Mark-82 fin-guided bomb, which had markings indicating parts were made by the US company Raytheon. They also found fragments of US-made white phosphorus artillery shells, marked M825 A1.
On 15 January, several white phosphorus shells fired by the Israeli military hit the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza City, destroying medicine, food and aid. One fragment found at the scene had markings indicating it was made by the Pine Bluff Arsenal, based in Arkansas, in October 1991.
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