Hezbollah must immediately stop firing rockets into civilian areas in Israel, Human Rights Watch said today. Entering the fourth week of attacks, such rockets have claimed 30 civilian lives, including six children, and wounded hundreds more.HRW has also been busy tracking Hamas war crimes too, as they relate to the their indiscriminate use of Kassam rockets and kidnapping soldiers.
“Lobbing rockets blindly into civilian areas is without doubt a war crime,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. ”Nothing can justify this assault on the most fundamental standards for sparing civilians the hazards of war.”
...Some of the rockets, such as those that killed eight rail workers in Haifa on July 16 and two young brothers in Nazareth on July 19, have warheads packed with thousands of metal ball bearings that spray out from the blast. Launched on civilian areas, the ball bearings are intended to inflict maximum harm. [emphasis added]
HRW is also accusing Israel of war crimes as well, not only discounting the warnings that Israel gave to civilians to leave the area, but denying that Hizbollah uses human shields:
The Israeli government claims that it targets only Hezbollah, and that fighters from the group are using civilians as human shields, thereby placing them at risk. Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack. Hezbollah occasionally did store weapons in or near civilian homes and fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers, which are serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. However, those cases do not justify the IDF’s extensive use of indiscriminate force which has cost so many civilian lives. In none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in this report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack. [emphasis added]There is a very real question whether HRW is doing its homework. The National Post (Canada) manages to report on 4 examples of Hizbollah using human shields--using hospitals:
The surgeon led a group of journalists over what remained: mangled debris, shredded walls and a roof punched through by an Israeli shell.using border villages:
"Look what they did to this place," Dr. Fatah said, shaking his head. "Why in the world would the Israelis target a hospital?"
The probable answer was found a few hours later in a field nearby. Hidden in the tall grass were the burned remnants of a rocket-launcher.
Confronted with the evidence, Dr. Fatah admitted his hospital could have been used as a site from which to fire rockets into Israel.
"What choice to we have? We need to fight back from somewhere," he said, tapping his foot on the ground.
"This is Hezbollah's heartland."
"We've been preparing ourselves for this fight for the last five years. We can fight this for much longer," said Abu Ismail, a local Hezbollah leader near the village of Bint Jbeil who uses a nom de guerre, like most of his fellow fighters.and using homes:
Residents of the cluster of villages closest to the Israeli border, Hezbollah's most loyal supporters, helped stow the weapons away.
But as the conflict continues, there is an undercurrent of anger among some residents.
"Hezbollah are using [us] as human shields," said Rima Khouri, gesturing overhead as Israeli warplanes sliced through the sky.
The Lebanese Christian woman fled from her village of Ain Abel to one of the swelling refugee shelters in the city of Tyre.
She was one of few people to speak freely about her anger at Hezbollah and their strategy of firing rockets into Israel from civilian areas.
Nasser Kareem shared her sentiments.And in a village near Qana:
During a pitched battle in his village of Bint Jbeil last Thursday, the 48-year-old dentist watched from his kitchen window as Hezbollah fighters dragged a rocket launcher across the torn street in front of his house.
A few minutes later, he heard four successive blasts. Kareem barely managed to cover his four-year-old son's ears before the rockets were fired. His own ears are still ringing.
"Five minutes after they fired the rockets, the Israelis started bombing," he recalled from the safety of a shelter in Beirut.
"They are making us magnets for the Israelis," he said.
Anger boiled over last week when a shelter in Qana was hit, killing 29 people, most of them children.Rich Lowry of The Corner noted during his visit to Israel that Hezbollah had an observation post right next to a UN post on the Lebanon-Israel border.
"What have they done to deserve this? Is this a military target?" wept Mohamad Chaloub, clutching the lifeless body of his daughter.
Local officials said there were no weapons or rockets in the house where the children slept in Qana, no warning before the bomb fell.
But the next day, the same Lebanese Red Cross team that dug out the children's bodies stumbled across the shreds of more rocket launchers in a village nearby.
One was found deep inside a fruit orchard. Another was found wedged between two houses.
In the same report, HRW has also accused Israel of attacking ambulances:
Two Israeli air strikes are known to have hit humanitarian aid vehicles. On July 18 the IDF hit a convoy of the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates, destroying a vehicle with medicines, vegetable oil, sugar and rice, and killing the driver. On July 23, Israeli forces hit two clearly marked Red Cross ambulances in the village of Qana.Elder of Ziyon has a post that raises substantial questions on the accuracy of that claim.
According to Human Rights Watch, Hamas, Hizbollah, and Israel are all equally guilty of War Crimes.
Is the term "War Crime" going to be used indiscriminately, going the way of the term "holocaust"--and robbing it of any meaning?
The other question is: who is watching the watchers?
Tom Gross reports on how Hizbollah has manipulated journalists.
Israel Insider has a report on how UNIFIL officers have been bribed by UNIFIL officers who stood by and allowed IDF officers to be kidnapped.
Without independent confirmation, why should HRW's claims about the results of Israeli attacks in Lebanon, under the watchful eye of Hizbullah be believed?