Following the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah on the Israeli side of the Lebanese-Israeli border on 12 July 2006, Israel has repeatedly struck Lebanese targets in the past few days. In response to the Israeli strikes, Hizbullah fired rockets at northern Israeli cities, leading to the death of at least 8 people in Haifa on 16 July.
The Israeli authorities announced that the air strikes mostly target the Lebanese areas in which « Hizbullah is present and active ». The main Lebanese infrastructures have been hit including the international airport in Beirut, all major roads and bridges in South Lebanon in particular as well as Lebanon’s main harbours at Beirut and Jounieh and a water plant in the Southern city of Yarin. Several roads have been cut leaving many areas completely isolated. The relief organisations located in Lebanon are largely unable to provide assistance to these populations. The country is progressively being blockaded and several Lebanese and international humanitarian institutions already expressed concerns over local food distribution and the lack of adequate medical supplies in some areas.
As of today, the Israeli bombings reportedly killed nearly 170 people, most of them were civilians established in the South of the country. And as a result of continuous strikes on South Lebanon and suburbs of Beirut, hundreds of people have been displaced mainly from the South of the country and the targeted suburbs of Beirut. Most of them are gathered in schools or streets in the Lebanese capital and face severe difficulties. The FIDH fears the development of a humanitarian crisis amongst the most vulnerable populations in Lebanon.
The FIDH severely condemns the rocket firing by Hizbullah against Israeli civilian population. Furthermore, the FIDH calls on Hizbullah to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or other impartial observers to examine and monitor the health of the two Israeli detained soldiers and urges Hizbullah to uphold the rights of the prisoners to a humane and non-degrading treatment until a swift and peaceful solution is found.
The FIDH considers that the attacks carried out by the Israeli forces which resulted in the killings of civilians and the destruction of major Lebanese infrastructures which violate the international humanitarian law provisions are disproportionate and constitute a collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The FIDH recalls that the killing of civilian constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law according to Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and condemns all actions that target or unduly endanger civilian populations.
The FIDH calls upon the Israeli government to urgently put an end to the military operations carried out in Lebanon. The FIDH calls therefore upon the Security Council to adopt a resolution for that purpose and to take all the necessary measures to ensure the protection of Lebanese civilian populations and to guarantee the sovereignty of the Lebanese State.