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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Report accuses Hezbollah of war crimes, hiding among civilians

Last update - 11:47 06/12/2006

Report accuses Hezbollah of war crimes, hiding among civilians

By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press

Hezbollah operated during the second Lebanon war from within civilian
structures and its operatives disguised themselves as civilians, and is
therefore guilty war crimes, according to a report authored by Intelligence
and Terrorism Information Center.

The report also says that 650 out of the 1,084 people the Lebanese government
has said were civilians killed in the conflict were in fact Hezbollah

According to international law on warfare, the use of civilian structures
during combat is forbidden, and turns the structures into legitimate military
targets. International human rights organizations and the United Nations have
accused Israel of attacking civilian targets during the war.

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center works in close cooperation
with the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Corps. The center's director,
Colonel (res.) Reuven Erlich, said the report is intended to help make
Israel's case to the world regarding IDF activities during the war.

"I think it could offer a response to allegations of human rights
organizations on why the Israel Defense Forces operated in civilian areas,"
Ehrlich said.

The report said Hezbollah operated from civilian areas to deter the Israeli
military and gain a propaganda advantage if an Israeli counterattack caused
civilian casualties. Militants stashed weapons in hundreds of private homes
and mosques, had missile transports closely follow ambulances and fired
rockets near UN monitoring posts, the report said

The report's authors say it proves that Hezbollah made serious efforts to
blend in with the civilian population in Beirut and southern Lebanon. The
report includes aerial photographs of buildings and facilities in civilian
neighborhoods being used by Hezbollah, as well as pictures of Hezbollah
militants firing rockets next to residential buildings. In at least one
instance, say the authors, Hezbollah weapons were found in a mosque.

The report also includes testimony given by captured Hezbollah militants, in
which they admit they were instructed to hide in civilian buildings. One
militant said, according to the report, that he transported a Katyusha rocket
under the cover of a white flag. Another militant is quoted as saying that he
and his comrades wore civilian clothes and traveled in civilian vehicles, to
avoid being identified as militants.

One video included in the report showed a captured Hezbollah guerrilla telling
his interrogators how the militia rented houses in residential areas to
secretly store missiles.

"Even the owner of the house, he knows he's giving (the building) to
Hezbollah, they rent it for instance, but its not possible for him to know
what's in it," said the militant, identified as 30-year-old Maher Hassan
Mahmoud Kourani.

The report presents Hezbollah Katyusha rocket "firing cards", which include
instructions on how to aim in order to hit civilian population centers in
northern Israel.

The report concludes by offering a legal determination accusing Hezbollah of
war crimes. Three chapters in the report addressing the war crimes issue were
prepared by the IDF legal department, in conjunction with Foreign Ministry
lawyers, the report said.

A Hezbollah official dismissed the Israeli report as "totally untrue," saying
it was part of "a campaign to vilify Hezbollah and justify the unjustified
Israeli massacres in Lebanon."

"These allegations are part of Israeli propaganda aimed at protecting Israel's
generals and officials who face accusations of committing massacres against
Lebanese civilians during the summer war," Hussein Rahhal, Hezbollah's media
chief, told The Associated Press in Lebanon.

Amnesty International said the report did not contain many new allegations.
"In terms of the fact that Hezbollah had weapons, tunnels, militia facilities
in villages, no one disputes it. Hezbollah does not dispute it," said Claudio
Cordone, a senior director of research at Amnesty.

Cordone called for "a proper international investigation ... to look into
these allegations and other ones," including Hezbollah's rocket attacks on
northern Israel.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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