Monday, September 18, 2006

Weighing Israel's way of war

By RAMESH THAKUR, Special to The Japan Times

To say that both sides must share blame in any conflict does not imply that both are equally to blame...

Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, investigated a number of Israeli strikes on civilian targets. He concluded that "time after time" Israel "hit civilian homes and cars in the southern border zone, killing dozens of people with no evidence of any military objective." Consequently, he says, "Israel's claims about pinpoint strikes and proportionate responses are pure fantasy. Israel is prefabricating excuses to justify killing civilians."

Human Rights Watch concluded that, at best, Israel had blurred the distinction between civilian and combatant. At worst, "The pattern of attacks during the Israeli offensive in Lebanon suggests that the failures cannot be explained or dismissed as mere accidents; the extent of the pattern and the seriousness of the consequences indicate the commission of war crimes."

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, too, placed the attack on Qana in the context of "a pattern of violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, committed during the current hostilities." Isolated and occasional operational errors and accidental mistakes are one thing; a systematic pattern suggests possible war crimes...

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