Amnesty International seems to have missed the obvious. And, in other news, the sun rose in the East today.
Read the report here. Then, when you're done, read about how Hezbullah hides behind civilians. Amnesty International, as usual, shows itself to be as reputable as Kofi Annan. Be sure to check out the rest of this article, and join me on my adventure as I (shudder) read and analyze this magnificent report!
The briefing does not cover in any detail the broader implications of the bombing campaign. ... Nor does it address the attacks by Hizbullah into Israel and their impact on civilians â these are being addressed elsewhere.
Israeli forces pounded buildings into the ground, reducing entire neighbourhoods to rubble and turning villages and towns into ghost towns, as their inhabitants fled the bombardments.
Entire families were killed in air strikes on their homes or in their vehicles while fleeing the aerial assaults on their villages.
The Israeli Air Force launched more than 7,000 air attacks on about 7,000 targets in Lebanon between 12 July and 14 August, while the Navy conducted an additional 2,500 bombardments.(1) The attacks, though widespread, particularly concentrated on certain areas.
In addition to the human toll â an estimated 1,183 fatalities, about one third of whom have been children
Amnesty International delegates in south Lebanon reported that in village after village the pattern was similar: the streets, especially main streets, were scarred with artillery craters along their length. In some cases cluster bomb impacts were identified. Houses were singled out for precision-guided missile attack and were destroyed, totally or partially, as a result.
Israeli government spokespeople have insisted that they were targeting Hizbullah positions and support facilities, and that damage to civilian infrastructure was incidental or resulted from Hizbullah using the civilian population as a "human shield". However, the pattern and scope of the attacks, as well as the number of civilian casualties and the amount of damage sustained, makes the justification ring hollow. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy, rather than "collateral damage" â incidental damage to civilians or civilian property resulting from targeting military objectives.
The widespread destruction of apartments, houses, electricity and water services, roads, bridges, factories and ports, in addition to several statements by Israeli officials, suggests a policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population in an effort to get them to turn against Hizbullah.
International humanitarian law governs the conduct of war, and seeks to protect civilians, others not participating in the hostilities, and civilian objects. In an armed conflict, military forces must distinguish between civilian objects, which may not be attacked, and military objectives, which, subject to certain conditions, may be. The principle of distinction is a cornerstone of the laws of war.
Objects which are normally considered "civilian objects" may, under certain circumstances, become legitimate military objectives if they are "being used to make an effective contribution to military action". However, in case of doubt about such use, the object must be presumed to be civilian.
Israel has asserted that Hizbullah fighters have enmeshed themselves in the civilian population for the purpose of creating "human shields". While the use of civilians to shield a combatant from attack is a war crime, under international humanitarian law such use does not release the opposing party from its obligations towards the protection of the civilian population.
Many of the violations examined in this report are war crimes that give rise to individual criminal responsibility. They include directly attacking civilian objects and carrying out indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks.
People against whom there is prima facie evidence of responsibility for the commission of these crimes are subject to criminal accountability anywhere in the world through the exercise of universal jurisdiction.