Amnesty International

UNLAWFUL KILLINGS DURING OPERATION "GRAPES OF WRATH"

"Since 1975, thousands of civilians have been killed in the fighting between Israel and various armed groups in Lebanon, the overwhelming majority of them as a result of Israeli attacks. The numbers involved and the brutal regularity of civilian casualties in over 20 years of conflict may contribute to the belief that civilian deaths are an "inevitable "consequence of this conflict, and create an almost casual acceptance of these deaths. It takes an event such as the attack on Qana -- the United Nations (UN) compound where over 100 civilians were killed on 18 April 1996 -- to shatter this complacency. But if the fighting continues or even escalates again, what guarantees are in place to ensure such deaths are avoided?"

- "GRAPES OF WRATH": BACKGROUND
There has been a continuing conflict across the Israel-Lebanon border since the 1970s, with major Israeli military operations directed against Palestinian armed groups in 1978 and 1982 and against Hizbullah in 1993.

In the "Litani Operation" in March 1978, Israel took control of Lebanese territory south of the Litani River. An estimated 1,000 civilians were killed during the operation. On 19 March 1978 the UN Security Council passed two resolutions on Lebanon: resolution 425 which called on Israel to withdraw from all Lebanese territory; and resolution 426 which established the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) "for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security and assisting the government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area". In June 1978 Israeli forces withdrew but remained in occupation of an area of Lebanese territory bordering Israel and usually referred to by Israel as its "security zone". In this area, Israeli forces have been assisted by a Lebanese militia of about 3,000 men known as the South Lebanon Army (SLA). This militia is trained, financed and otherwise controlled by Israel.

    In June 1982 the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) invaded Lebanon in a large-scale operation codenamed "Peace for Galilee". The Israeli forces
reached as far as Beirut which was besieged and bombed for two months until Palestinian Liberation Organization forces agreed to leave the city. Some 18,000 people were reported killed and 30,000 injured during the invasion, the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians. Israeli forces occupied Beirut until July 1983 when they withdrew to the Awali river north of Sidon. The entire area between the Awali river and the Israel-Lebanon border remained under Israeli occupation until 1985 when the Israeli forces withdrew to the "security zone".

Between 1982 and 1985 Israeli forces in Lebanon were persistently attacked, mainly by Lebanese armed groups, including especially those emerging from the Shi'a community -- the largest community in south Lebanon. By 1985 two such groups were predominant: Harakat Amal (the Movement of Hope) founded in 1975 and led since 1980 by Nabih Berri, current Speaker of the Lebanese parliament; and Hizbullah (Party of God), founded in 1982 and led since 1992 by Shaykh Hasan Nasrallah.

The Ta'if Agreement of September 1989, brokered by the Arab League, ended the Lebanese civil war; it provided for some constitutional reform and endorsed the Syrian military presence in Lebanon. In 1991, following a decision of the Lebanese Government, all Lebanese armed groups were disarmed with the exception of Hizbullah, which disbanded its military structure in Beirut but kept that structure in place in south Lebanon to continue its conflict with Israel. Accordingly, Hizbullah has been able to conduct military activities against Israel's occupation of the "security zone". Since 1991, the fighting in south Lebanon has thus become primarily a confrontation between Hizbullah and Israel and its allied militia, the SLA.

On 25 July 1993, following the killing of seven Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon, Israel launched Operation "Accountability" (known in Lebanon as the "Seven Day War") during which the IDF carried out their heaviest artillery and air attacks on targets in southern Lebanon since 1982. The declared aim of the operation was to eradicate the threat posed by Hizbullah and to force the civilian population north to Beirut so as to put pressure on the Lebanese Government to repress Hizbullah. More than 55 villages were severely damaged and 300,000 civilians displaced during the week-long Israeli assault. According to official Lebanese sources, 118 Lebanese civilians were killed and 500 injured (as well, one Lebanese soldier and eight Hizbullah combatants were killed). The fighting ended when an unwritten "understanding" was agreed to by the warring parties (brokered by the United States Government). Apparently, the 1993 "understanding" provided that Hizbullah combatants would not fire rockets at northern Israel, while Israel would not attack civilians or civilian targets in Lebanon.

The 1993 "understanding" did not put an end to civilian casualties. While much of the fighting was between Hizbullah combatants and IDF/SLA forces within the "security zone", retaliatory attacks continued involving Lebanese civilians outside the "security zone".

Between January and March 1996 the fighting in south Lebanon caused the deaths of four Lebanese civilians, as well as two Hizbullah combatants, seven IDF soldiers and three SLA militiamen. On 8 April a roadside bomb killed a 14-year old Lebanese boy and wounded three of his playmates in the village of Bar'ashit north of the Israeli "security zone". Although the IDF denied responsibility for the attack, Hizbullah blamed Israel and retaliated by launching Katyusha rockets on northern Israel on 9 April. That same day, Israel responded by an attack on the village of Khirbat Salim in which two civilians were wounded. On 10 April an IDF soldier was killed and three others wounded in a Hizbullah attack on their outpost in the "security zone".

On 11 April 1996 Israel launched Operation "Grapes of Wrath" which lasted for 17 days. On the first few days of the operation the Israeli air force attacked targets in Beirut, for the first time since 1982. From 11 April, Israel started to use the SLA radio station to warn the inhabitants of various Lebanese villages and towns to evacuate "to save their lives". Within the next few days, over 300,000 Lebanese as well as 30,000 Israelis were forced to flee their homes. From 13 April the Israeli navy blockaded the ports of Beirut, Sidon and Tyre. For the duration of the operation Israel maintained a steady barrage of fire from its artillery, air and naval forces. Targets included roads and an electricity station north of Beirut. The operation ended after a new, written "understanding" was reached between the warring parties on 26 April. This "understanding" includes provisions for the protection of the civilians and establishes a Monitoring Group made up of the United States, France, Syria, Lebanon and Israel to supervise its implementation.

According to Israeli officials, during Operation "Grapes of Wrath", the IDF fired 25,132 artillery rounds and carried out 2,350 air sorties over Lebanon, about half of which involved attacking targets.

As a result of these attacks, according to Lebanese military records, 154 civilians were killed in Lebanon together with five military personnel, and 351 civilians and 11 military personnel wounded (although the precise number of wounded civilians is difficult to establish).
 

- VIOLATIONS OF THE LAWS OF WAR
Warnings: To protect or to terrorize the civilian population?

A number of warnings were issued by the Israeli authorities to the inhabitants of towns, villages and areas in south Lebanon, indicating that civilians should leave the areas. Some were general warnings, others were directed at specific villages and gave specific times before which people were asked to leave. For the most part, these warnings were issued, in Arabic, over the "Voice of the South" (Sawt al-Janub), a radio operated by the SLA.

Warnings made to villages on 12 April were similar to the following:

    "We ask the inhabitants of Jibshit, Nabatiyya, Qulayla and al-Mansuri to leave their villages within a period up to 3:45 [pm] at the latest, because the Israeli army will bombard these places."

On 13 April the following warning was broadcast:

The Israeli army will intensify its activities against the terrorist elements. After the warnings broadcast by the 'Voice of the South' to 45 villages, any presence in these villages will be regarded as subversive. Those who do not heed these warnings do so at their own responsibility and will put themselves at risk. The Israeli army calls on all the inhabitants who have not yet left to move immediately in order to prevent unintended casualties."

The Lebanese authorities, and indeed many others (including commentators in Israel), argue that the primary purpose of the warnings was to create a massive humanitarian crisis, in order to pressure both the Lebanese and Syrian Governments into curbing the activities of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. Such an aim was actually made explicit by Israel during the 1993 Operation "Accountability". Certainly, the effect of the warnings in April 1996 as before was to panic hundreds of thousands of people into fleeing southern Lebanon. There is no doubt that this placed a tremendous burden on the Lebanese authorities and humanitarian agencies regarding the provision of accommodation and emergency relief supplies.

Article 51(2) of Protocol 1 provides:

"The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited." (emphasis added).

Despite the claims made by the Israeli authorities, the nature and timing of the warnings given are difficult to reconcile with a genuine intention to protect civilian lives. The text of the warnings clearly shows an intent to threaten the civilian population as such (e.g. "any presence in these villages will be regarded as subversive"). In some cases the attacks commenced prior to the deadline given by the IDF in their warnings, such as the attack on the village of Sohmor in the western Beqaa' on 12 April. Further, many thousands of civilians were unable to leave despite their desire to do so -- old people, the sick, and those without transport faced particular difficulties. Others who could leave chose to remain in order to safeguard their property. Indeed, rather than enhance civilian protection, the use of such warnings seemed to diminish it because those who chose not to be threatened into leaving, or could not leave, were assumed by the IDF to be "subversives" and told that they would be "hit".

- Unlawful killings by the IDF during Operation "Grapes of Wrath"

The following three cases are examples of the unlawful killing of civilians by the IDF during Operation "Grapes of Wrath". Amnesty International was able to gather detailed information concerning these three cases.

Attack on ambulance carrying civilians, 13 April 1996

On 13 April 1996 at about 1.40pm an IDF helicopter rocketed a vehicle carrying 13 civilians fleeing the village of al-Mansuri, killing two women and four young girls. The attack happened near the Fijian Battalion UN checkpoint 1-23 south of Tyre. The vehicle was a grey Volvo station wagon with a blue flooding light and a siren. A clear red crescent was painted on the hood, and the word "ambulance" was written in Arabic on the hood and on both sides of the car. Also written were the words al-waqf al-islami-fil-Mansuri, Islamic Endowment in al-Mansuri.

Video footage taken by reporters at the scene shows the vehicle approaching the checkpoint at a moderate speed, with its blue flashing light and siren on, and the car packed with women and children. Other vehicles crowded with civilians, including a pick-up truck and a tractor, were travelling in convoy with the Volvo. Eye-witnesses saw two IDF helicopters (most probably "Apache" attack helicopters) hovering low over the area of the checkpoint. As soon as the vehicle passed the checkpoint heading north, a missile fired by one of the helicopters (most probably a laser-guided "Hellfire" air-to-surface missile), hit the back of the car or exploded just behind it ripping through its back door. The vehicle then crashed into a house just off the road. According to 'Abbas 'Ali Jiha, the driver:

"...the ambulance was hit in the back and swung off the street. I ran from the car carrying two of my children, Mahdi [who survived] and Mariam [who died], and told the journalists that there were dead and wounded in the car."

Inside the car two women, Muna Habib Shuwayh, 28, the wife of 'Abbas Jiha, and Nawkha Ahmad al-'Uqla, 50 (a neighbour of 'Abbas Jiha) were killed. Also killed were four girls: Zeinab, 10, Hanan, 5, and Mariam, 2 months, (all daughters of 'Abbas Jiha) and Hudu' Fadi Khalid, 11 (Nawkha al-'Uqla's grand-daughter). Five other children in the car 'Abbas Jiha and his cousin 'Ali 'Ammar survived.

UN soldiers and other eye-witnesses who were at the scene immediately after the car was hit said that there were no weapons or any other type of military equipment in the car, only clothes and some food supplies. The video footage of the dead and wounded in the car moments after the attack supports these statements. Amnesty International has no evidence to indicate that the driver or anyone else in the car had any connection with Hizbullah. 'Abbas Jiha, an agricultural worker who had emigrated to Germany but returned to al-Mansuri some 15 months before Operation "Grapes of Wrath", told Amnesty International that he was not a member of Hizbullah and that he was not involved in any military activity. He maintained that after the beginning of the Israeli operation he volunteered to drive the vehicle for emergency purposes such as bringing medical and food supplies to al-Mansuri, which was under sporadic bombardment. On 13 April, the day of the attack, he decided to use the vehicle to evacuate his family from the village after hearing of the IDF warnings issued on SLA radio that al-Mansuri and other villages would be attacked.

The vehicle itself was owned by the village community. In normal times it was parked near the mayor's house who also held the keys. When Operation "Grapes of Wrath" began, the Islamic Scouts operation centre in Tyre took control of the al-Mansuri ambulance by supplying it with one of their regular drivers and fuel and despatching it for various humanitarian purposes. On the day of the attack the vehicle had travelled twice between Tyre and al-Mansuri. In its last trip to al-Mansuri on 13 April, 'Abbas Jiha drove the car to the village to evacuate his family.

The IDF has produced no evidence to show that the vehicle they hit, or any other similar vehicle for that matter, had at any time been used by Hizbullah for military purposes. Independent observers interviewed by Amnesty International did suggest that Hizbullah may have misused ambulances, but did not provide specific examples to corroborate such suspicions. In any case, this vehicle was certainly engaged in legitimate humanitarian activities at the time it was hit and was travelling in a convoy of civilian vehicles away from, and not into, the area that the IDF had warned civilians to evacuate. Moreover, the Israeli helicopter crew must, at the time of the attack, have seen the ambulance markings on the vehicle. In attacking the vehicle, the IDF showed a blatant disregard for civilian lives and violated international law.

Attack on house in Upper Nabatiyya, 18 April 1996

On 18 April 1996 at around 6.30 am nine people were killed, including a mother, Fawzia Khawaja 'Abed, 40, seven of her children (Lulu, 12, Hoda, 7, Nada, 4, Murtada, 3, Nur, a baby only a few days' old, and their two brothers Muhammad, 11, and 'Ali, 8) and a cousin, Ahmad 'Ali Basal, 17. Israeli warplanes completely demolished the two-storey house in which they were sleeping in Upper Nabatiyya, burying them in rubble. Two others, Ibrahim, 15, and his sister Nujud, 18, were pulled from the rubblealive and survived. The planes returned and hit a neighboring house -- no one was hurt. At about the same time, helicopters rocketed another house inhabited by a member of the 'Abed family, Ghunwa Hasan 'Abed and her husband 'Abbas Basal (whose brother died with the rest of the 'Abed family in the other house). The house was damaged but no one was hurt. According to one of the survivors, Nujud:

"At about 5am I was awakened by the sound of planes flying over. This continued until after 6am. Then suddenly I felt a strong heat and falling rubble and bodies around me."

Upper Nabatiyya is located near a stretch of hills that falls within the "security zone". IDF /SLA positions are clearly visible overlooking the houses of Upper Nabatiyya, and the area is particularly vulnerable to bombardments. The owner of the two-storey house, 'Ali Jawad Mally, had left Nabatiyya after the start of Operation "Grapes of Wrath" but had left the keys of his house with neighbours to use for emergency shelter. The house was thought to be safer than other houses because of its location. The 'Abed family were one of the families who on occasion sought shelter in the house, as their own house was in full view of an IDF/SLA position. The family went to the Mally house on the night of 17 April because of shelling earlier in the evening.

It seems clear that the three houses were hit as a result of deliberate and direct attacks on those buildings. The air attacks were carried out in a precise manner. Amnesty International is not aware of any evidence linking the inhabitants of the dwellings which were hit with Hizbullah, nor that the dwellings were used by Hizbullah for the purpose of storing military weaponry or materiel. The owner of the demolished house told Amnesty International that he was a member of the Amal movement, but that for the last nine years he had not been politically active. He emphasised that his house was never used for military purposes.

It might be that Hizbullah combatants did fire rockets or mortars from a position near the houses (although such positions are likely to have been exposed to observation from IDF/SLA positions above Nabatiyya). But there is no evidence that, if they did so, they took shelter in the houses which were hit. The house was completely destroyed and there is no evidence that anyone other than the nine dead and the two survivors were found in the rubble -- and the Israeli authorities have not suggested otherwise. Moreover, the houses hit were clearly civilian objects and even if, as alleged by the IDF, Hizbullah combatants ran into the houses, this would not in itself justify such an attack. It might be, as indicated by then Prime Minister Peres' comments, that the decision to attack the house was based on the assumption that civilians had left the area. Such an assumption can only indicate a blatant disregard for the need to maintain the principle of distinction at all times.

Attack on UN Compound at Qana, 18 April 1996

The head quarters compound of the Fijian battalion of UNIFIL in Qana was attacked by IDF artillery shortly after 2pm on 18 April. At the time, there were over 800 Lebanese civilians inside the compound; 102 of them were killed and hundreds were wounded. In addition, four UNIFIL personnel were wounded.

Eye-witness accounts and television pictures of the attack and resulting devastation shocked people around the world. The UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, immediately sent his Military Adviser to "investigate the incident and to identify steps that could be taken to prevent a recurrence". The resulting report of Major-General Franklin van Kappen, formally transmitted to the UN Security Council on 7 May 1996, concluded:

    "While the possibility cannot be ruled out completely, it is unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of gross technical and/or procedural errors."

Amnesty International delegates, including a high-ranking military adviser, were able to visit Qana, inspect the compound and surrounding area and interview extensively UNIFIL personnel and civilians who were in the compound at the time of the attack. The data collected was further analyzed by additional experts and specific questions put to the Israeli authorities, who did not respond.

On the basis of all the information available, Amnesty International believes that the IDF intentionally attacked the UN compound, although the motives for doing so remain unclear. The IDF have failed to substantiate their claim that the attack was a mistake. Even if they were to do so they would still bear responsibility for killing so many civilians by taking the risk to launch an attack so close to the UN compound.

This conclusion is based on a number of facts (set out below in detail), including the precision and reliability of the IDF's "target acquisition" systems; the timing of the attack; and the sequence, type and dispersion pattern of the shells fired. Taken together, these facts strongly suggest that the bombardment of the UN compound was not the result of an "artillery scatter" of stray shells which overshot the Hizbullah mortar, as claimed by the IDF, but was the result of a separate barrage of shells aimed at the compound itself.

Amnesty International cannot establish with certainty whether or not the relevant IDF personnel knew that over 800 Lebanese civilians were sheltering in the UN compound at the time it was attacked. However, even if the IDF did not have specific information regarding civilians sheltering there, the general information it did possess concerning civilians in UN compounds -- in addition to Israel's recognition that UN positions as such are not legitimate targets -- should have been sufficient to prevent such an attack. The fact that the attack proceeded can only indicate a callous disregard for the protection of civilian lives and therefore a clear breach of the laws of war's prohibitions on directly or indiscriminately targeting civilians.

The following facts emerge from Amnesty International's investigation of the incident, drawing heavily on the UN as well as the IDF account of what happened (as set out in their Communique of 9 May):

Diagram from Major-General Franklin van Kappen's report to the Secretary-General of the UN Boutros Boutros-Ghali dated 7 May 1996 (S/1996/337)

(c) The IDF shelling (from a battery equipped with M-109A2, 155mm guns) started at 2.07pm, 15 minutes after the identification of the target, an unusually long time for the IDF to attack a target which constitutes an immediate threat for one of their patrols. An IDF artillery response to a Katyusha launching should take on average five minutes. During the elapsed time there were consultations between the artillery battery commander and the IDF's Northern Command headquarters. According to the IDF, these consultations included whether or not to attack a target so close to a UNIFIL compound. No shell warning was received by UNIFIL during the 15 minutes leading up to the attack (that warning came later, after the attack had begun and after UNIFIL contacted the IDF asking that the shelling be stopped).

(e) There were 36 shell impacts in the Qana area (see diagram from the UN report): 17 near the mortar position and 19 inside and around the compound. The southernmost cluster of 17 impacts in the vicinity of the mortar position fits into a box of some 150m (along the longitudinal axis) by 55m. The dispersion pattern of this cluster suggests it was a result of converging fire, carefully prepared in the elapsed 15 minutes. The northernmost cluster of 19 shells in and around the UNIFIL camp fits into a larger box of some 240m (along the longitudinal axis) by 170m -- which could be reduced to 100m if one concludes that the five westernmost impacts were fired by one gun which was not carefully aligned. The centre point of impacts in this cluster of shells is 250m from the centre point of the southernmost box. All of this indicates that the impacts in the UN compound were the result of a separate barrage, requiring a deliberate decision.

(f) The IDF argues that it made two mistakes in identifying the coorof the UN base when ordering artillery fire and, as a result, "... while IDF headquarters believed the UN base to be located some 350 metres from the target point, in fact the outer perimeter of the base was only some 180 metres distant." But, even if this is true, the standard dispersion pattern (for this weapons system, assuming a distance of 15,500 metres) suggests only 4% of the total number of shells fired would land between 135 and 180 metres from the target, or, in other words, that no more than two shells would have impacted within a distance of 45 metres from the outside periphery of the UN compound. The actual dispersion pattern shows 19 shells -- more than 50% of the total fired -- landed in or around the UN compound. This also suggests that the shells which landed in the compound were the result of a separate barrage.

(g)    It is difficult to determine the exact number of different types of fuses used in the shells fired. Both proximity fused shells (which explode several metres above the ground sending shrapnel downwards and outwards as a means of killing a large number of people) and impact fused shells (which explode on impact) were fired, according to the IDF in a random pattern. However, the UN report showed a distinct difference in numbers of proximity fuses used in the first southernmost cluster (5%) and the second northernmost cluster (almost 50%). The report states: "Almost all the proximity fuses were used in the area of the United Nations compound".
Again, this points to the impacts in the UN compound being the result of a separate barrage, and one in which it was decided to use a greater number of proximity fused shells.

(h) An Israeli "drone" (unmanned, remote controlled reconnaissance aircraft) and two helicopters were present in the area around the time of the attack, a fact eventually confirmed by the IDF after repeated initial denials (the presence in the area of the "drone" and at least one helicopter was documented by video footage taken by a member of another UNIFIL position overlooking Qana).

The question of whether the IDF knew about the presence of civilians in the UN compound or not is a key point of dispute. The IDF maintains that it was not aware at the time of the shelling that Lebanese civilians had taken refuge in the Qana compound.

UNIFIL has emphasised that they had informed the IDF several times from the beginning of the operation that there were 6000-7000 Lebanese refugees sheltering in UN compounds in southern Lebanon. This information was also reported in the Lebanese and international press, quoting official UNIFIL sources, on several occasions. It is unclear why the many forms of intelligence-gathering available to the IDF failed to detect the presence of so many civilians in the compound, as asserted by the IDF. The IDF must have had knowledge of, or should have assumed, that an unspecified but probably considerable number of refugees were in the UNIFIL compound.

It should be pointed out that other UNIFIL compounds and locations were hit during Operation "Grapes of Wrath". According to UNIFIL, there were 270 occasions during the operation when UNIFIL positions (including convoys and vehicles) came under "close fire" by the IDF. This figure includes IDF artillery and air attacks.

For example, according to UNIFIL sources in an incident on 17 April (the day before Qana was attacked) when another UN compound (UN Position 5-18 of the Nepalese Battalion, at the village of Majdal Zun) came under artillery fire from the IDF. Eight shells landed directly inside the compound (including smoke, impact fused and proximity fused shells) causing extensive damage to buildings but not causing any injuries. There were Lebanese civilians in this compound at the time of the attack but they took shelter along with UN personnel when the attack commenced. No Hizbullah activity was reported in the area prior to the attack, and no shell warning was received by UNIFIL. This UN position is clearly visible from IDF/SLA positions.

The IDF has maintained that it was a "policy" of Hizbullah to fire rockets and mortars from close to UN positions, and made public the text of a letter sent to UNIFIL on 15 April identifying 19 incidents in which Hizbullah had taken up firing positions within 200 metres of a UN position. The IDF has indicated that 15 further such incidents occurred until the end of Operation "Grapes of Wrath". UNIFIL has informed Amnesty International that in examining the 19 incidents in the IDF's letter of 15 April, "in most cases" they disagreed with the IDF's view that the Hizbullah positions were within 200 metres of UN locations: "Hizbullah
fire was usually from considerably further away than the IDF alleged, in some cases as far as one kilometre from the nearest UNIFIL post."

The IDF Inquiry into Qana

The Israeli Government launched an inquiry into the events at Qana. This inquiry was conducted by Brigadier-General Dan Harel, Chief of Artillery of the IDF. Amnesty International requested but has not received a copy of the full report of that inquiry, the conclusions of which were made public on 5 May.

The IDF inquiry concluded that the shells landed on the UN compound as a result of mistakes made in plotting the exact coordinates of the UN compound, which in turn led those involved in ordering the attack on the Hizbullah mortar position to believe that the UN compound was further away from the target site than it actually was. However, as indicated above, based on the information available to Amnesty International, even if it is true that the IDF had incorrectly fixed the coordinates of the UN compound when ordering the attack, this does not explain the pattern, number or type of shells which impacted on the UN compound.

Amnesty International believes that the inquiry ordered by the Israeli Government into the attack on Qana was wholly inadequate. While it is clear that any inquiry into such an attack should draw on military advice and expertise, it is doubtful whether giving sole responsibility for conducting the inquiry to a serving officer in the IDF is likely to result in a full and impartial investigation. This is particularly true when the officer in question has command responsibility over the artillery -- the very forces whose conduct is to be investigated. Moreover, the inquiry reported before the full results of the UN investigation were made available, an investigation which, unlike the Israeli inquiry, was able to observe first-hand the compound at Qana. Also, the Israeli inquiry did not seek additional information from UNIFIL nor attempt to interview UNIFIL personnel who were present at Qana when the compound came under attack.

Amnesty International believes that the Israeli Government should, as a matter of priority, establish a proper judicial inquiry into the attack on the UN compound at Qana. The status and tenure of those conducting the inquiry should give the strongest possible guarantees of their competence, impartiality and independence. This inquiry should take advantage of the results of the UN investigation and interview UNIFIL personnel who were present at Qana when the UN compound was attacked. The inquiry should result in a full public report, which clearly identifies those responsible for the attack and makes recommendations regarding awarding compensation and preventing such attacks in the future.

This inquiry should also be empowered to investigate the other incidents described in this report where IDF attacks led to the unlawful killing of civilians. Those responsible for the unlawful killing of civilians should be brought to justice.
 





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