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War crimes accusations rattle Israel

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Mr. Machover also helped bring before a Spanish national court the case of the Israeli assasination of a Hamas military chief in 2002.

That bombing allegedly killed more than a dozen civilians in a Gaza neighborhood.

Just last week, a Spanish judge announced an investigation, sparking tension between Israel and Spain, and spurring more speculation in Israel of war crimes efforts.

Dogged by a series of allegations ranging from targeting civilian locations to preventing the evacuation of noncombatants, Israel's government in recent weeks reaffirmed a commitment to offer legal defense to soldiers and politicians implicated in the cases. It has also decided to keep the identities of soldiers secret to protect as many as possible from prosecution.

According to Palestinian officials, more than 1,300 Gazans were killed and thousands wounded during the three-week Israeli offensive against Hamas last month. The number of noncombatants included in those figures is disputed. Only 13 Israelis were killed, most of them were soldiers.

In her debut address as the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice called on Israel to investigate the behavior of its military in the recent Gaza war and accused Hamas of its own violations for firing rockets at Israeli towns and working out of civilian areas.

An Israeli investigation is unlikely given the conviction by most Israelis that the Israel military did its best to limit injury to civilians. Israel and the US say Hamas has broken international law by shooting rockets at towns and cities and using Palestinian civilian areas as a base.

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