An international group of jurists on Friday accused both Israel and Hizbullah of committing war crimes in a conflict that has so far killed more than 370 people, mainly civilians.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), which links 60 senior judges and lawyers worldwide, said Israel's “disproportionate and indiscriminate" use of force through air raids against Lebanese civilian targets amounted to "collective punishment", which is outlawed.
"Collective punishments constitute a war crime under international law," ICJ Deputy Secretary-General Federico Andreu-Guzman said in a statement.
Hizbullah rockets fired at northern Israeli towns could also be considered a violation of international humanitarian law because armed groups are also covered by the Geneva Conventions protecting civilians in times of conflict, the ICJ added.
The Geneva-based organization called for an immediate halt to the violence and accused the international community of not doing enough to restrain Israeli actions in both Lebanon and Gaza.
"The organization is extremely concerned by the apathy of the international community and the inactivity of key governments toward the ongoing Israeli military actions," it said.
In recent days both the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, and the International Committee of the Red Cross have warned both sides – and particularly their leaders – that they could be held legally responsible for their actions under international law.