Monday, July 31, 2006

Human Rights Watch: Israeli Air Attacks Called 'War Crimes'

More voices join a rising chorus: Israel is perpetrating war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians in Lebanon. The latest group to raise the issue is Human Rights Watch which recently documented similar charges against the Bush administration in Iraq. The organization joins Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who said earlier that "...war crimes may have been committed in Lebanon" by Israel.

A New York-based human rights group says the Israeli military is fully responsible for its air strike that killed nearly 60 civilians in Lebanon, calling such attacks a "war crime."

In a statement released in Beirut Sunday, Human Rights Watch said Sunday's air strike in the village of Qana was a product of an indiscriminate bombing campaign amounting to a war crime.

The statement calls on the U.N. secretary-general to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian law during the conflict.

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Islamic Conference is preparing for an emergency meeting this week on the need for an immediate cease fire in the Middle East and deployment of a U.N. peace keeping force.

—VOA, Israeli Attacks [are] 'War Crimes'

UN Commissioner Arbour had warned that war crimes liability is not limited to military personnel; it applies equally to the politicians who decide, direct and approve military operations.

The specific international principles are the 1949 Geneva Conventions sought to prohibit, by international law, attacks which mainly target civilians. Article 51 of the First Protocol to the 1949 agreements (updated in 1977) states

Article 51: Protection of the Civilian Population
  • The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in all circumstances.
  • The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.
  • Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
  • Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:

    • those which are not directed at a specific military objective;

    • those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or

    • those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.

-Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions, 1977

UN Commissioner Arbour is a former justice of Canada's Supreme Court and a chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference [O.I.C] —an organization of Muslim-majority nations —will meet in an emergency, one-day session Thursday in Malaysia. The group will discuss an immediate cease fire and a U.N. deployment of peace keeping force.

A round up of the latest developments with regard to war crimes:

A War Crimes Tribunal May be the Only Deterrent to a Global War

The United Nations General Assembly must immediately establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as a "subsidiary organ" under U.N. Charter Article 22. The ICTI would be organized along the lines of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was established by the Security Council.

The purpose of the ICTI would be to investigate and prosecute Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine--just as the ICTY did for the victims of international crimes committed by Serbia and the Milosevic Regime throughout the Balkans.

The establishment of ICTI would provide some small degree of justice to the victims of Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Peoples of Lebanon and Palestine--just as the ICTY has done in the Balkans. Furthermore, the establishment of ICTI by the U.N. General Assembly would serve as a deterrent effect upon Israeli leaders such as Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz, Chief of Staff Halutz and Israel's other top generals that they will be prosecuted for their further infliction of international crimes upon the Lebanese and the Palestinians.

Without such a deterrent, Israel might be emboldened to attack Syria with the full support of the Likhudnik Bush Jr. Neoconservatives, who have always viewed Syria as "low-hanging fruit" ready to be taken out by means of their joint aggression.

The Israeli press has just reported that the Bush Jr administration is encouraging Israel to attack Syria. If Israel attacks Syria as it did when it invaded Lebanon in 1982, Iran has vowed to come to Syria's defense.

And of course Israel and the Bush Jr administration very much want a pretext to attack Iran. This scenario could readily degenerate into World War III.


How can 'terrorism' be condemned while war crimes go without rebuke?

Washington's partners in this hypocritical war on terror are given free rein to wreak their own brutal, illegal violence

David Clark
Monday July 31, 2006
The Guardian

As if we didn't know it already, the conflict in Lebanon shows that truth and war don't mix. All parties to the tragedy of the Middle East resort to disinformation and historical falsification to bolster their case, but rarely has an attempt to rewrite the past occurred so soon after the fact. Israeli ministers and their supporters have justified the bombardment of Lebanon as "a matter of survival". Total war has been declared on Israel, so Israel is entitled to use the methods of total war in self-defence. This would be reasonable if it were true, but it isn't. It's completely false. ...

Lebanon alleges war crimes

Published: Monday, 31 July, 2006, 12:53 PM Doha Time

BEIRUT: The Lebanese government yesterday accused Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity following the deadly raid on the village of Qana, saying the US was covering up the Jewish state’s attacks on the country.

"These aggressions are crimes against humanity and war crimes in all senses of the words," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said, reading a statement after an emergency cabinet session.

"It is to hide their failure in achieving their military objectives," he said.

Asked about the US position concerning the continued Israeli attacks on Lebanon, Aridi said Washington "is covering up these aggressions."

Qana, War Crimes, and the Pending UN Resolution on Lebanon

JURIST Guest Columnist Anthony D'Amato of Northwestern University School of Law says that the Israeli air strike on Qana that killed over 60 Lebanese civilians has set the stage not only for possible war crimes prosecutions but also for a potentially-robust UN Security Council resolution imposing a UN peacekeeping force on the parties in an effort to stop the violence...

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz in Jerusalem on Sunday morning July 30th when news came in of a two-missile strike on a house in Qana, Lebanon. So far, over 60 bodies of civilians have been recovered, the majority of them children. A father of five who managed to escape lost his wife, sister, aunt, and all his children, including a two-year-old. The pinpoint accuracy of the Israeli missiles is not disputed. ...

The Existentialist Cowboy
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