Targeting of civilian areas in the 2006 Lebanon War

Targeting of civilian areas in the 2006 Lebanon War

Artillery and missiles fired into civilian areas in Lebanon and Israel by both the Israel Defence Forces and Hezbollah were a major component of the 2006 Lebanon war. Intended targeting aside, approximately one-quarter of the Israelis killed by Hezbollah and the vast majority of the Lebanese killed by Israeli forces were widely reported to be civilians. [] [cite news|title='Is this the price to pay?' Lebanese PM asks|url=|publisher=CBC|date=2006-07-19] Arbour called for Israel to obey the "principle of proportionality" and said, "Indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians.…Similarly, the bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable." [cite news|title=UN warning on Mid-East war crimes|date=2006-07-20|publisher=BBC News|url=]

Amnesty International

Amnesty International condemned both Israel and Hezbollah and called for UN intervention, stating early on that the region "has seen a horrendous escalation in attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure. Yet the G8 leaders have failed conspicuously to uphold their moral and legal obligation to address such blatant breaches of international humanitarian law, which in some cases have amounted to war crimes". [cite news|url=|title=UN: Security Council must adopt urgent measures to protect civilians in Israel-Lebanon conflict|publisher=Amnesty International] Amnesty International later accused Israel of war crimes due to its assault on Lebanese civilian infrastructure. [cite news |publisher=Fox News |url=,2933,209890,00.html |title=Amnesty International Accuses Israel of War Crimes |date= August 22, 2006] [cite press release
title = Lebanon: Deliberate destruction or “collateral damage”? Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure
publisher = Amnesty International
date = 23 August 2006
url =
accessdate = 2006-08-23

Amnesty International has also accused Hezbollah of war crimes due to “deliberately failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets, and of wrongfully seeking to justify its barrage by claiming to be retaliating for Israel’s attacks on Lebanese civilians.” [cite web
url =
title = Hezbollah accused of war crimes
accessdate = 2006-09-15
last = O’Loughlin
first = Ed
date = September 15, 2006
publisher = The Sydney Morning Herald
] cite web
url =
title = Under fire: Hizbullah’s attacks on northern Israel
accessdate = 2006-09-15
date = September 14, 2006
work = Israel/Lebanon
publisher = Amnesty International
] On November 21, 2006, Amnesty International released a report stating that there was not "conclusive evidence of intent" by Hezbollah to use the civilian population as “human shields” for its military activities.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch condemned the indiscriminate use of force against civilians by both Israel and Hezbollah. They blamed Israel for systematically failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians, which may constitute a war crime, and accused Hezbollah of committing war crimes by the deliberate and indiscriminate killing of civilians by firing rockets into populated areas. The organization also strongly criticized Israel for using cluster bombs too close to civilians because of their inaccuracy and unreliability, and Hezbollah for filling its rockets with ball bearings, which "suggests a desire to maximize harm to civilians."cite news|title=U.N.: Open Independent Inquiry into Civilian Deaths|date=2006-08-08|publisher=Human Rights Watch|url=] [cite news|url= |title=Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon|date=2006-07-24|publisher=Human Rights Watch] [cite web| url =| title = Lebanon: Hezbollah Rocket Attacks on Haifa Designed to Kill Civilians| accessdate = 2006-08-13| date = 18 July 2006| publisher = Human Rights Watch]

United States

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the war on Lebanon as part of "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and urged Israel to ignore calls for a ceasefire because it would be a "false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo." [ [] ]

United Kingdom

In response to American support and Israel's military tactics, Kim Howells, British Foreign Office minister, said in an interview with CNN, "I hope that the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon: the destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children, and so many people. These have not been surgical strikes, and it's very, very difficult I think to understand the kind of military tactics that have been used. You know if they're chasing Hezbollah, well go for Hezbollah. You don't go for the entire Lebanese nation, and that's the difference." [cite news|title=CNN International Live|url=|publisher=CNN|date=2006-07-22]


ympathetic toward Israel

Upon UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour's statement that Israel is breaking international law, Alan Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School, wrote:

"Arbour's knowledge of international law is as questionable as her understanding of morality. Virtually every democratic nation has been forced to bomb cities during wartime, especially when the enemy locates crucial military targets near population centres. Under Arbour's erroneous criteria for criminal prosecution, U.S. presidents Bush, Clinton, Nixon, Johnson, Eisenhower, Truman and Roosevelt, as well as British prime ministers Blair and Churchill, and numerous French, Russian, Canadian and other heads of state would be declared war criminals for causing the 'foreseeable' deaths of civilians while bombing legitimate military targets." [Dershowitz, Alan M. [ "Arithmetic of Pain."] "Jewish World Review". 20 July 2006. 1 October 2006.]

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey wrote for the "Washington Post":

"Unfortunately, heavy civilian casualties are the inherent and inevitable result of the type of asymmetric warfare deliberately waged by Hezbollah .... They intentionally operate from civilian areas, both to protect their military capabilities from attack and to increase civilian deaths, which can then be trumpeted for propaganda purposes. But the presence of a large civilian population does not immunize Hezbollah ... forces from attack. Responsibility for any additional civilian casualties must be attributed to those groups, not to Israel." [Casey, Lee A. and David B. Rivkin Jr. [ "Israel Is Within Its Rights."] "". 26 July 2006. 2 October 2006.]

Critical of Israel

Robert Fisk, a correspondent for "The Independent", said "Hezbollah is killing more Israeli soldiers than civilians and the Israelis are killing far more Lebanese civilians than they are guerrillas." [cite news|title=Entire Lebanese family killed in Israeli attack on hospital|url= Robert Fisk|publisher=The Independent|date=2006-08-03]
Jonathan Cook addressed Jan Egeland's criticism, saying that Hezbollah doesn't force itself on civilians, but rather mingles with supportive Shiite populations adding:

"The implication of Egeland’s cowardly statement seems to be that any Lebanese fighter, or Palestinian one, resisting Israel and its powerful military should stand in an open field, his rifle raised to the sky, waiting to see who fares worse in a shoot-out with an Apache helicopter or F-16 fighter jet. Hezbollah’s reluctance to conduct the war in this manner, we are supposed to infer, is proof that they are terrorists." [ [ Five Myths That Sanction Israel's War Crimes ] ]

Mitch Prothero countered both Dershowitz's argument and that of Rivkin, Casey, Fisk, and Cook in an article published by and widely cited elsewhere:

"My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been... The targeting of civilian facilities may be the result of liberal definitions within the Israeli military as to what constitutes a Hezbollah target; Hezbollah's civilian wing is Lebanon's second largest employer, and its facilities include hospitals and schools, among other non-military assets. While employees may be on the Hezbollah payroll, they are not often if ever participants in or knowledgeable about Hezbollah military activity." [Prothero, Mitch. [ "The 'hiding among civilians' myth."] . 28 July 2006. 19 August 2006.]


ee also

*Cases before the International Criminal Court#Lebanon
*2006 Qana airstrike
*2006 al-Qaa airstrike
*2006 Shiyyah airstrike
*2006 Ghaziyeh airstrikes
*2006 Marjayoun convoy

External links

Front-line photographs and videos

"Warning: Extremely graphic wartime imagery"
* [ Photographs and Video Footage] - Hizbullah's exploitation of Lebanese population centers and civilians.
* [ Photographs and Video Footage] - Israel MFA Clips: Visual media, short films, presentations (Hizbullah, conflict, incitement, terror, memorials, Hamas)
* [ Photographs] — Lebanese civilian casualties and infrastructure damage.
* [ Photographs] — Lebanese civilian casualties at the 2006 Qana airstrike.
* [ Photographs] — Lebanese civilian targets and casualties.
* [,35.508993&spn=0.010425,0.021415 Satellite photograph] — Haret Hreik neighborhood in the Dahieh district of Beirut, Lebanon, before Israeli airstrikes.
* [ photograph] — Haret Hreik neighborhood, 22 July 2006.
* [ Video footage] — Hezbollah using civilians as cover and human shields.
* [ Video footage] — Damage in major Lebanese cities.
* Detained Hezbollah operatives describe Hezbollah activities within civilian population centers and within civilian structures during the war
** [ Video footage, part 1]
** [ Video footage, part 2]
** [ Video footage, part 3]


* [ Israeli report] — Hezbollah's use of Lebanese civilian areas to launch missiles at Israel.

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