Amnesty: Israel targeted civilians

Human rights group says both Israel and Hizbullah committed war crimes.

Lebanon soldiers 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Lebanon soldiers 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israeli forces and Hizbullah guerrillas committed war crimes by attacking civilians during their 34-day war in southern Lebanon earlier this year, Amnesty International said Tuesday. In its third report on the conflict, the human rights group said Israeli forces were guilty of "indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on a large scale." "These include the sustained artillery bombardment of south Lebanon and, in particular, the widespread use of cluster bombs in civilian areas in the last days of fighting, leaving a lethal legacy which continues to blight civilian lives," the report said. Examples of attacks on civilian infrastructure included the bombing of the Jiyye power station which also caused massive environmental damage, the report said. "In this context Israeli forces also appear to have carried out direct attacks on civilian objects, such as the destruction of factories and of the small port of al-Ouza'i and its fishing boats," it added. Given the absence of an explanation for many attacks that caused civilian deaths, and where there was no apparent evidence of Hizbullah action, the report concluded: "It seems clear that Israeli forces consistently failed to adopt necessary precautionary measures" to prevent civilian deaths. There was no immediate comment from Israeli authorities. The 70-page report recalled the findings of an earlier Amnesty report that Hizbullah fighters also committed serious breaches of international humanitarian law. Their war crimes, the report said, included indiscriminate and direct attacks on civilians. Hizbullah fighters, the report said, "also appear not to have taken necessary precautions to protect civilians in Lebanon from the effects of Israeli attacks." Evidence studied for the new report, "suggests that, in at least some cases, Hizbullah fighters stored Katyusha rockets within villages and fired from civilian areas, although the extent of such conduct is not clear," the report said. The report urged all parties to the conflict to hold "prompt, independent, impartial and thorough investigations of reported violations" and asked the United Nations to set up an international commission to investigate allegations of breaches of human rights.