Amnesty International accuses Israel of "war crimes" in Lebanon

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The targeting of petrol stations in Lebanon was cited as one of the charges against Israel

The human rights organisation Amnesty International has accused Israel of committing war crimes by deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Lebanon during the Israel-Lebanon conflict, calling the attacks "indiscriminate and disproportionate". Israel has rejected the charge.

"The pattern, scope and scale of the attacks makes Israel's claim that this was 'collateral damage', simply not credible," said Kate Gilmore, of Amnesty International.

Amnesty International cites the magnitude of the destruction caused by Israeli air strikes and artillery bombings, and declarations such as the one made by Israeli Chief of Staff Lt Gen Dan Halutz, that "nothing is safe [in Lebanon], as simple as that", as evidence that civilians were deliberately targeted.

Israel rejected the accusation, stating that the bombings of civilian areas was justified because Hezbollah uses civilians as "humans shields" : Lebanese infrastructure was "targeted only when that infrastructure was being exploited by the Hezbollah machine, and this is in accordance with the rules of war", said the Israeli spokesman Mark Regev. "Unlike Hezbollah, we did not deliberately target the Lebanese civilian population", Mr. Regev said.

Over 1,000 Lebanese, mostly civilians were killed during the fighting, while 161 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed by Hezbollah. The Israeli attacks also wounded about 4,000 people, and turned nearly 1 million people, a quarter of the population of Lebanon, into internal refugees.