Group alleges Israeli, Hezbollah crimes

Associated Press
Date: 11-20-06

LONDON - Amnesty International again criticized Israeli and Hezbollah forces' handling of the 34-day war in southern Lebanon, saying both sides committed war crimes by attacking civilians and singling out Israel for its use of cluster bombs.

In its third report on the conflict, issued Tuesday, the human rights group said Israeli forces were guilty of "indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on a large scale."

"These include the sustained artillery bombardment of south Lebanon and, in particular, the widespread use of cluster bombs in civilian areas in the last days of fighting, leaving a lethal legacy which continues to blight civilian lives," the report said.

Examples of attacks on civilian infrastructure included the bombing of the Jiyye power station, which caused massive environmental damage when hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil leaked into the Mediterranean Sea, the report said.

"In this context Israeli forces also appear to have carried out direct attacks on civilian objects, such as the destruction of factories and of the small port of al-Ouza'i and its fishing boats," the report added.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli authorities.

The 70-page report recalled the findings of an earlier Amnesty report that Hezbollah fighters also committed serious breaches of international humanitarian law. Their war crimes, the report said, included indiscriminate and direct attacks on civilians.

Evidence studied for the new report "suggests that, in at least some cases, Hezbollah fighters stored Katyusha rockets within villages and fired from civilian areas, although the extent of such conduct is not clear."

The report urged all parties to the conflict to hold "prompt, independent, impartial and thorough investigations of reported violations" and asked the United Nations to set up an international commission to investigate allegations of breaches of human rights.

Amnesty International said more than 1,000 civilians were killed in Lebanon, around a third of them children, during intense Israeli bombardments of Lebanon that devastated the country's infrastructure.


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