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Amnesty Int'l: Last summer's war criminals must be punished

Year after Second Lebanon War, organization censures Israel, Lebanon and international community for not taking steps to 'hold those accountable for indiscriminate killing of civilians'

A year after the Second Lebanon War, Amnesty International censured the absence of steps, in both Israel and Lebanon and by the international community, to prosecute those "responsible for war crimes and other grave violations" committed during the conflict.


During and after the war, the organization investigated possible violations of international humanitarian law committed by both Israeli forces and Hizbullah fighters and published its findings in three reports last year.


According to AI, in Israel the post-war investigations of the conduct of Israeli forces during the war was limited to military strategy and made no attempt to investigate violations of international humanitarian law or to establish a mechanism to bring to account those responsible for such violations.


In Lebanon, said the organization, no official investigation had been carried out at all. Furthermore, an inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council was given a one-sided mandate, focusing only on evidence of violations by Israeli forces.


Specifically, AI condemned Israel's use of cluster bombs, alleging that the IDF utilized them in an illegal manner during the war, a claim Israel has repeatedly denied.  The organization also noted the ongoing damage caused by remnants of this type of ordnance and criticized Israel for not sharing information about bomb placement.


"Amnesty International repeats its call on Israel to hand over maps detailing the areas its forces targeted with cluster bombs. These are vital to assist bomb clearance and avoid further casualties," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa program.


Although use of cluster bombs is not prohibited by international law, the organization also called on the Israeli government to impose a moratorium on the use of all cluster weapons and to provide maps of the locations of the land-mines its forces laid in south Lebanon in past years.


The AI press release criticized Hizbullah's treatment of kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, urging the group "to provide information about the two Israeli soldiers its fighters captured on 12 July 2006 and allow them immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross."


'Declare an arms embargo'

"Israel, Lebanon and all other countries in a position to do so should investigate and prosecute those suspected of war crimes," read a statement from the organization.


"The Security Council should declare and enforce an arms embargo on both Israel and Hizbullah until effective mechanisms are in place to ensure that weapons will not be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law," Smart was quoted as saying.


"Without a full, impartial UN-led inquiry that includes provision for reparations to the victims, there is a real danger of history repeating itself.


The total lack of political will to hold to account those responsible for the indiscriminate killing of civilians, more than one thousand of whom lost their lives, is both a gross betrayal of the victims and a recipe for possible further civilian bloodshed with impunity," he said.


"Partisan politics and selectivity in bodies such as the UN Security Council - the main body with the authority to decide such matters without the agreement of the concerned parties - has effectively left the Lebanese, Israeli and other victims without recourse to justice," AI's press release read.


"By contrast, the Security Council's decision to establish a tribunal to prosecute those accused of responsibility for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other political murders shows that where there is political will the mechanisms for establishing the truth can be created despite the opposition of some of the concerned parties," the press release continued.


While AI said it welcomed the establishment of the tribunal, it "continues to stress the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to address past war crimes and human rights abuses in Lebanon, including those committed during the war in July-August last year."


'Amnesty report is one-sided'

Following AI's statement, Jerusalem based watchdog Non-Governmental Organization Monitor has expressed continued concern over their approach to the conflict.


"Amnesty's comments again fail to hold Hezbollah responsible for initiating the conflict in an unprovoked cross border raid that saw eight Israeli servicemen killed and two kidnapped," the NGO Monitor stated.


Their questions over Amnesty's publications on the conflict remain. NGO Monitor's detailed research has shown that through the use of highly politicized, unverifiable sources, Amnesty paint a one-sided, inaccurate picture.


The statement also said that while it is commendable that Amnesty call on Hezbollah to provide information on the two kidnapped Israelis, they do not call for their release. This is an absurd deviation from Amnesty International's founding principles.


פרסום ראשון: 07.12.07, 03:12
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