Neither Israel nor Lebanon has investigated allegations of war crimes from last year's conflict, the human rights group Amnesty International charged in a statement released Thursday, calling for a United Nations inquiry. In its reports since the war, Amnesty harshly criticized Hizbullah for firing nearly 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities and towns, and Israel for bombing civilian areas and using cluster bombs in south Lebanon. Amnesty said that more than 1,000 civilians were killed in the 34-day war. Since then, 24 more people have been killed in south Lebanon by explosions of cluster munitions fired by Israel during the war, the statement said.
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"Without a full, impartial UN-led inquiry that includes provision for reparations to the victims, there is a real danger of history repeating itself," warned Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa program, according to the statement.
He blamed "partisan politics" in the UN Security Council for the failure to set up such an inquiry. "The Security Council should declare and enforce an arms embargo on both Israel and Hizbullah until effective mechanisms are in place to ensure that weapons will not be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law," Smart said.
Amnesty urged Israel to turn over maps of areas targeted with cluster bombs in south Lebanon, and it called on Hizbullah to provide information about the two Israeli soldiers it captured a year ago in a cross-border raid, setting off the war.
Responding to the Amnesty charges, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, "The Israeli system of justice is independent, professional and transparent. Allegations of inappropriate behavior by Israeli military personal have been thoroughly investigated. Israel is a country in which respect of human rights and the rule of law are at the very center of the political process."
No comment was immediately available from the Lebanese government.