HRW: Israel Guilty of War Crimes
Human Rights Watch, after extensive investigation, has concluded that the Israeli military is guilty of war crimes. HRW says:
Israeli forces have systematically failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians in their military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said in report released today. The pattern of attacks in more than 20 cases investigated by Human Rights Watch researchers in Lebanon indicates that the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accidents and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hezbollah practices. In some cases, these attacks constitute war crimes.
The 50-page report, “Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon,” analyzes almost two dozen cases of Israeli air and artillery attacks on civilian homes and vehicles. Of the 153 dead civilians named in the report, 63 are children. More than 500 people have been killed in Lebanon by Israeli fire since fighting began on July 12, most of them civilians.
“The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military’s disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hezbollah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare.”
HRW’s investigations do not bear out the excuse that the high civilian casualty rate is because of Hizbullah hiding among civilians:
‘ Human Rights Watch researchers found numerous cases in which the IDF launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious military objectives but excessive civilian cost. In many cases, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some instances, Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians.
In one case, an Israeli air strike on July 13 destroyed the home of a cleric known to have sympathy for Hezbollah but who was not known to have taken any active part in the hostilities. Even if the IDF considered him a legitimate target (and Human Rights Watch has no evidence that he was), the strike killed him, his wife, their 10 children and the family’s Sri Lankan maid.
On July 16, an Israeli aircraft fired on a civilian home in the village of Aitaroun, killing 11 members of the al-Akhrass family, among them seven Canadian-Lebanese dual nationals who were vacationing in the village when the war began. Human Rights Watch independently interviewed three villagers who vigorously denied that the family had any connection to Hezbollah. Among the victims were children aged one, three, five and seven.
The Israeli government has blamed Hezbollah for the high civilian casualty toll in Lebanon, insisting that Hezbollah fighters have hidden themselves and their weapons among the civilian population. However, in none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in the report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah was operating in or around the area during or prior to the attack. ‘
Just from observing eyewitness news accounts from Lebanon, I had come to the same conclusion.
A letter to the editor worth reading, on Israeli war crimes in Lebanon.
The Arab American Institute condemned the Bush administration for its insouciance over the Qana massacre.
The Israelis have done $2 billion worth of damage to Lebanon. I guess that is fair, one billion for each soldier captured by Hizbullah.
Israel resumed its bombing of Shiite civilian neighborhoods in southern Beirut on Wednesday.
The Israelis also bombed the Tyre region, killing 7 civilians. Israeli ground troops advanced into southern Lebanon, saying their goal is to reach the Litani, methodically cleaning out Hizbullah bases as they go. Apparently the Israelis really do hope to (further) empty those 19 square miles of people.
2,000 Saudi Shiites demonstrated against Israel in Qatif on Tuesday. Saudi Shiites are traditionally quite timid and cautious, so this rally is an index of their frustration. The community has boldly criticized its own government for initially blaming Hizbullah for adventurism and declining to call for a cease fire. Since the early days of the war, Saudi policy has swung around to criticizing Israel and demanding a ceasefire.
On why you should never, ever listen to the promises of air force generals about how they can get the job done in fighting guerrilla groups without harming civilians.
No fuel, no energy. No energy, no water and no bread. No water and no bread, no people.
The Daily Star surveys Lebanese blogs that are trying to cover the war experience from that country.
The UN reminds us that the Israeli-imposed crisis in Gaza is as bad as that in Lebanon.