UN food expert: ICC should probe Israel

UN food agency leaving Lebanon on time; say "foodstuff readily available."

October 5, 2006 15:25
2 minute read.
UN food expert: ICC should probe Israel

un food expert 88. (photo credit: )

The International Criminal Court should investigate whether Israel is guilty of war crimes for a bombing campaign in Lebanon that blocked access to food and water, a United Nations rights expert said Thursday. Jean Ziegler, the UN Human Rights Council's special envoy on the "right to food," said Israel's bombing of farmland and blockade of Lebanon's ports in its month-long war with Hizbullah, during the main farming and fishing season, caused considerable hardship to the Lebanese that was still being felt. "The government of Israel should be held responsible under international law for the violations of the right to food of the Lebanese civilian population," he said in an 18-page report. "Individuals should be held responsible for violations of the right to food and water." Ziegler, an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Commission, visited Lebanon in September in the aftermath of the 34-day conflict that ended in mid-August. He said the contamination of fishing waters by an oil slick and the presence of hundreds of thousands of cluster bomblets in the south of the country would have a "long-term impact on livelihoods and access to food and water." Ziegler cited a Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture estimate that the conflict caused direct losses to farming of several hundred million US dollars. However, the UN food agency, which coordinated aid deliveries to Lebanon during the conflict, said it is pulling out of the country as planned on Oct. 24. "The general outlook is good and confirms our view that we should not remain in Lebanon longer than necessary," said World Food Program said in a statement. "Foodstuff is available at affordable prices in the country," it said. Ziegler's report focused only on the impact of Israeli bombing in Lebanon and did not cover the effects of Hizbullah rocket fire on northern Israel. It was warmly received by Arab and Muslim countries when presented to the 47-nation council in Geneva this week. Israel, however, denounced Ziegler, saying he went beyond the authority given to him by the council. "In all of his reports, Mr. Ziegler always transgresses the limits of his mandate. The latest report, which touches upon several external issues, is no exception," Itzhak Levanon, Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told The Associated Press. Ziegler previously has sparred with Israel and the United States. Last year, Ziegler compared the Gaza Strip to an "immense concentration camp." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour criticized Ziegler for the comparison.

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