Amnesty International Report: Ignoring Hezbollah's Reign of Terror
Posted: August 23, 2006
Amnesty International's (AI) report on the Israeli-Hezbollah war is a one-sided analysis that goes so far as to accuse Israel of war crimes and the deliberate targeting of civilians while completely dismissing Hezbollah's duplicitous practice of embedding its fighters and armaments within civilian areas.
The report is based on anecdotal accounts from unconfirmed sources, references to secondary reports in the media and is contrived to reach a preconceived conclusion. It proposes that the remedy for Israel's actions in Lebanon should be to prosecute Israelis under principles of universal jurisdiction.
Issued August 23, 2006, the report, Israel/Lebanon: Deliberate destruction or 'collateral damage'? Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure focuses almost entirely on the "victimization" of civilians in Lebanon while virtually ignoring the impact of Hezbollah's reign of terror on Israel and its civilian population, infrastructure and economy.
That there is simply no place in the report for the possibility that Israel acted legitimately in the face of an unprovoked assault – the July 12 killing and kidnapping of Israeli soldiers that prompted the war – demonstrates AI's clear anti-Israel bias. This bias is further exposed by the unacceptable comparison between Israel, a member state of the United Nations – whose right to self-defense is enshrined in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter – with a paramilitary terrorist group operating completely outside international law.
The outrageous equivalence drawn between Israel and Hezbollah undermines the report's credibility and discredits AI.
Lack of Context on Hezbollah
Amnesty states in the report that it intends to address the issue of Hezbollah "elsewhere," thereby excusing itself from providing the appropriate context for the conflict. AI fails to even acknowledge what UN humanitarian chief Jan England has publicly stated: "Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children" adding that he's "heard they [Hezbollah] were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."
Indeed, contrary to Hezbollah's indiscriminate firing of rockets intended to kill and maim Israeli civilians, Israel's military strategy of precision air strikes and ground incursions were solely aimed at Hezbollah and its infrastructure, not the Lebanese people. While there were tragic civilian casualties which are unfortunately inevitable in any war, Israel made clear that Lebanese civilians were not being targeted. As an example of this, the Israeli army routinely leafleted residential neighborhoods with advance warning of impending Israeli attacks, providing an opportunity for civilians to evacuate the areas.
Absent from the AI report is any mention of the genocidal goals of Hezbollah to destroy Israel and the Jewish people, in violation of international norms and treaties. Hezbollah's leaders have repeatedly called for the total destruction of the Jewish people, with statements declaring an "open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth." (Hezbollah statement, 1992). The current leader of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has repeatedly reaffirmed those sentiments in his own pronouncements.
Only by highlighting this vital fact is it possible to understand why Israel's military campaign in southern Lebanon was both legitimate and necessary.
Key U.N. Resolution Ignored
The AI report also ignores U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 which, in calling for the disarmament of non-state militias, outlaws Hezbollah's military activities.
It was the failure to fully implement 1559 that forced Israel into a defensive war with a terrorist organization whose modus operandi is to embed military caches among civilians and to exploit and abuse civilian facilities to advance their campaign with total disregard for the civilian community.
AI has a longstanding pattern of rushing to judgment to stigmatize Israel. One would have hoped that in its latest report, Amnesty would have started with the victim, Israel, and conducted their study there first -- reporting on violations of international law and war crimes committed by Hezbollah. Sadly, when it comes to Israel, AI has an anti-Israel bias.