The international watchdog group Human Rights Watch claims in a newly published report that the IDF has been committing indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Lebanon that at certain cases amount to war crimes. "Israeli forces have systematically failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians in their military campaign against Hizbullah in Lebanon," the organization stated.
In previous reporting, Human Rights Watch has addressed the conduct of Hizbullah forces, condemning its attacks on civilian areas as serious violations of international humanitarian law amounting to war crimes.
The current report, titled “Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon,” analyzes almost two dozen cases of Israeli air and artillery attacks on civilian homes and vehicles and claims that of the 153 dead civilians named in the report, 63 are children.
"More than 500 people have been killed in Lebanon by Israeli fire since fighting began on July 12, most of them civilians," it states.
HRW slams what it calls the IDF's "disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians."
'Human shield' argument refuted
“Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hizbullah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch
“Hizbullah fighters must not hide behind civilians – that’s an absolute – but the image that Israel has promoted of such shielding as the cause of so high a civilian death toll is wrong,” Roth said. “In the many cases of civilian deaths examined by Human Rights Watch, the location of Hizbullah troops and arms had nothing to do with the deaths because there was no Hizbullah around.”
According to the HRW, none of the Israeli attacks documented in the report resulted in Hizbullah casualties or the destruction of weapons. "Rather, the attacks have killed and wounded civilians who were fleeing their homes after the IDF issued instructions to evacuate."
“Israeli warnings of imminent attacks do not turn civilians into military targets,” said Roth. “Otherwise, Palestinian militant groups might ‘warn’ Israeli settlers to leave their settlements and then feel justified in attacking those who remained.”