One year after the month-long bombardment and invasion of Lebanon, a new report highlights Israel’s many violations of international law. For 34 days from July to August, 2006, Israel carried “out a massive military offensive against Hizbullah military targets, Lebanon’s public infrastructure, and Lebanese civilians and their property.”
On Wednesday, July 18, 2007, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington, DC held a press conference at the National Press Club to publicize the report written by its Research Institute (ADC-RI).
The in-depth report entitled, “Eyewitness Lebanon, July –August 2006: An International Law Inquiry,” analyzes the illegality of Israel’s assault. Using eyewitness testimonies, newspaper reports, and official documents, the report tells the story of “Israel’s longest and most destructive military operation in the Republic of Lebanon since Israel’s June 1982 invasion of that country.”
ADC calls this report “the most extensive study to be released to date on the events in Lebanon during July and August 2006.”
International law refers to the international agreements, conventions and customs that are said to regulate the behavior of states. The report’s analysis depends heavily on the
Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, which define the legal responsibilities of parties engaged in military conflict. International law only tolerates attacks on military targets. The Israeli military was also required to take necessary precautions to minimize harm to civilians.
To demonstrate that Israel committed legal violations, the report documents the extent of the destruction, both of lives and of property. It found that Israel indiscriminately targeted civilians, and used weapons that do not by their nature distinguish between military targets and civilians. The military destroyed and damaged nearly two hundred factories, including “food processing plants, and livestock and aquaculture enterprises.”
Israel’s army drove civilians north, uprooting one-fourth of Lebanon’s population. It shot at fleeing civilians, and bombed residential buildings — destroying 30,000 homes throughout Lebanon. This left nearly 250,000 people homeless. In short, it showed a general disregard for the safety of civilians. In addition, it also denied humanitarian agencies access to those in need.
According to the report, the human cost of Israel’s attacks was high. Around 900 Lebanese civilians died directly from the attacks. Thousands more were injured. Estimates by the Lebanese government claimed “that one-third of the civilian dead and injured were children.”
At the report’s end, it makes several recommendations about extending the rule of law, and ending Israel’s general impunity.
The report was written following a month-long fact finding mission conducted by Arab American attorney Houeida Saad. At the press conference, she discussed how she conducted the research, as well as the basis for the report’s legal framework.
The press conference also featured a 25-year old Arab American business owner who was in Beirut for a visit right before Israel attacked. Also, Marty Rosenbluth, Country Specialist for Israel, the Occupied Territories and the Palestinian Authority at Amnesty International USA, commented during the press event. He described the report as “extremely comprehensive, both in its scope and its depth.” He added, “anyone who wants to look at how the war in Lebanon affected Lebanese civilians should read this report.”
The report is available for purchase and for free download on ADC’s website: www.adc.org