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Jimmy Carter And Mary Robinson Call Gaza Offensive 'Humanitarian Catastrophe', Demand 'War Crimes' Be Investigated

06/08/2014 15:22 BST | Updated 06/08/2014 18:59 BST

NEW YORK -- Former US President Jimmy Carter has decried Israel’s recent offensive against Gaza, saying Netanyahu’s state has created a “humanitarian catastrophe” and that "war crimes" against civilians on both sides should be investigated.

In a joint comment piece penned with Ireland’s former President Mary Robinson, Carter, 89, argues that there is no “humane or legal justification” for Israel’s actions in the beleaguered Strip, stating that the IDF has “pulverized large parts of Gaza including thousands of homes, schools and hospitals”.

Writing in Foreign Policy, the former president said: “There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes. This is true for both sides. Hamas's indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians is equally unacceptable.”

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Carter called for the US and EU to recognise Hamas

The offensive, which lasted most of July, led to the deaths of more than 1,600 Palestinians, many civilians, including more than 300 children, with 65 Israelis dying in the conflict.

The pair wrote that “international judicial proceedings” should investigate these “violations”, adding that the only long-term solution to the conflict was for the US and the European Union to recognize Hamas as “a political force”.

“Hamas cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise,” they state. “Only by recognising its legitimacy as a political actor - one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people - can the West begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons.”

On the blockade of Gaza, Carter adds that the international community should push for the “full restoration of the free movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through Israel, Egypt and the sea”.

On Monday Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi resigned her position within the British cabinet claiming the UK government's policy on Gaza was "morally indefensible". She said: "The British government can only play a constructive role in solving the Middle East crisis if it is an honest broker and at the moment I do not think it is."

On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lambasted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that the “cycle of suffering” has “shocked and shamed the world”.

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