Israel, Hizbullah, Egypt criticized in HRW report

Israel and Hizbullah violated the laws of war during their battle last summer in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said in its annual report Thursday. The group also criticized what it said were repressive government policies in Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. In Iraq, the report said, the human rights situation worsensed significantly in 2006 with the continuing armed conflict becoming increasingly sectarian in nature. Human Rights Watch said that "in its conduct of hostilities, the Israeli Defense Forces repeatedly violated the laws of war by failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians." The report noted Israeli claims that the high proportion of civilian deaths was due to Hizbullah hiding its rockets and fighters in villages and towns. But it said Israeli attacks responsible for most of the civilian deaths took place when there was no evidence that Hizbullah fighters or weapons were in the vicinity.