Israel war report 'deeply flawed'

Other News Materials 1 February 2008 02:32 (UTC +04:00)

( BBC ) - Human rights organisation Amnesty International has condemned as "deeply flawed" an Israeli report on Israel's conduct in the war in Lebanon in 2006.

Amnesty criticised the inquiry for not addressing the issue of alleged war crimes by Israeli troops, such as "the indiscriminate killing of civilians".

The government-appointed Winograd panel found that Israel went into the conflict without a clear strategy.

As a result it was "dragged" into an unwinnable war with Hezbollah fighters.

Amnesty says the Winograd Commission, which was published on Wednesday, should have examined government policies and military strategies which did not discriminate between Hezbollah combatants and Lebanese civilians.

It was "another missed opportunity to address the policies and decisions behind the grave violations of international humanitarian law - including war crimes - committed by Israeli forces", said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme director, Malcolm Smart.

"The indiscriminate killings of many Lebanese civilians not involved in the hostilities and the deliberate and wanton destruction of civilian properties and infrastructure on a massive scale were given no more than token consideration by the commission," he added.

Israel has denied committing war crimes, saying it tried to avoid civilian casualties but its foe Hezbollah used civilian areas to launch its indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians.

Amnesty is calling on Israel to set up an independent inquiry into its soldiers' actions and a ban on cluster bombs, as well as helping the clean-up operation by providing data about where they were fired.

The 629-page Israeli report devotes six pages to cluster bombs, most of which were dropped in the final days of the hostilities and have been a lasting threat to civilians and mine clearers in Lebanon.

Winograd argues their use was legal, but displayed a lack of operational discipline, oversight and control.

"We recommend that on this matter there be a re-evaluation of the rules and principles that apply to the army in using cluster bombs," the report said.

Amnesty says 40 people (including 27 civilians and 13 de-mining personnel) have been killed by such munitions and 243 people have been injured.

Hostilities broke out in July 2006, when Hezbollah fighters captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross border raid that left three other soldiers dead.

In the conflict that followed, more than 1,000 Lebanese died, mostly civilians, along with 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Amnesty concludes its statement by calling upon Hezbollah to treat the captured humanely and stop using rockets against Israel civilians.