Hizbullah acknowledged targeting civilians in rocket attacks on Israel, but said it fired in response to Israeli attacks - rejecting an Amnesty International report Thursday that accused the guerrillas of violating international humanitarian law. Hizbullah legislator Hassan Fadlallah said his group targeted civilians in Israeli cities - killing dozens - in response to IDF attacks that killed hundreds of Lebanese civilians.
Amnesty faults Hizbullah's 'war crimes'
"We do not deny that we have bombarded Israeli cities, settlements and infrastructure. But this was always a reaction," he told Al-Jazeera television. "It was a natural reaction. When a state is invaded, it must defend itself."
Fadlallah said Amnesty International probably came under American and Israeli pressure to issue a report critical of Hizbullah's actions during the 34-day war, after issuing a similar report against Israel last month.
The London-based human rights group issued a call for a United Nations inquiry into war crimes possibly committed on both sides, but Thursday's report focused on the actions of the Hizbullah guerillas during the conflict.
The firing of rockets into urban areas in northern Israel violated international laws that call for distinction between civilian and military targets, Amnesty said.
"Targeting civilians is a war crime. There's no gray area," said Larry Cox, Amnesty's executive director in the United States.
But Fadlallah rejected the charges.
"The act was begun by Israel," he said. "How could we confront the Israeli aggression? With roses? The resistance (Hizbullah) said that the bombardment of Haifa was in response to the bombardment of Dahiyeh (Beirut's southern suburbs)."
The report is Amnesty's most extensive condemnation of Hizbullah since the conflict began in July, and comes after Amnesty accused Israel of violating international law with indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilian targets in Lebanon.