Arab group: Israel committed war crimes during Lebanon war
Arab Association for Human Rights says Israel violated international humanitarian law during Second Lebanon War by 'positioning temporary and permanent military outposts in close proximity to Arab communities'. IDF: decision on where to position these installations was based solely on operational considerations
The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) published a report Tuesday in which it claimed that Israel violated international humanitarian law during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006 "by positioning temporary and permanent military outposts in close proximity to Arab communities".
"A fundamental principle of international humanitarian law is that civilians must be afforded maximum protection." Concern was voiced that the violation of international humanitarian law may explain the particularly high number of civilian fatalities and injuries (during the war), according to the report.
The report's authors claim that it is based on the testimonies of 80 Arab residents, documenting 20 Arab-Israeli communities that were hit by an estimated total of some 660 rockets, killing 14 civilians directly.
"The investigation found that the Arab towns and villages that suffered the most intensive attacks during the war were ones that were surrounded by military installations, either on a permanent basis or temporarily during the course of the war," the report said.
"These installations are located at a distance of just 0.5 – 2 kilometers by air from the civilian community; in some cases, the installations are located inside the town or village. Such short distances are within the margin of error of the rockets fired by Hizbullah. During the war, artillery fire was launched at Lebanon from many of these installations, and particularly from the temporary installations."
'Distinction between combatants and civilians'
HRA director Mohammed Zeidan said, "It does not make any sense that Hizbullah would want to attack the (Israeli) Arab population, but it happened."
Attorney Tarek Ibrahim, who helped draft the report, said "we are not claiming that the IDF and the government purposely did this so the Arab communities would serve as human shields; we do not have the tools to check this. Jewish towns were also hit due to their close proximity to military installations."
The organization said the "positioning of military installations and the fact that the Israeli army trained in Arab communities that are similar in topography to villages in south Lebanon constituted a breach of international law, which calls for a distinction between combatants and civilians, and between military targets and civilian objects."
The IDF vehemently denied the claims specified in the report, saying that during the war various military installations were positioned throughout the Galilee region in order to protect the residents of the north, including the Arabs, from rocket attacks by Hizbullah. The decision on where to position these installations was based solely on operational considerations."