The Lack of Response and the Guilt of the International Community

Press release
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) calls upon the international community to immediately take effective measures to ensure the security and the protection of the Lebanese people and avoid the outbreak of a humanitarian disaster.

The international community must stop observing from the sidelines - according to UN agencies, 300 civilians have already been killed by Israeli military forces and 1,000,000 Lebanese have been forced to leave their homes.

About a million Lebanese, mostly from the Southern regions, have left their homes over the past week to take refuge in regions less affected by the Israeli attacks. National and international humanitarian organizations (often operating in public buildings that are being set up as aid centers) are doing what they can to help the internally displaced population, but lack the means to provide them with proper aid and assistance.

The FIDH reminds the international community that the 5th Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement states that: « All authorities and international actors shall respect and ensure respect for their obligations under international law, including human rights and humanitarian law, in all circumstances, so as to prevent and avoid conditions that might lead to displacement of persons ».

The FIDH strongly condemns the military attacks that have, to date, reportedly caused 295 civilian deaths in Lebanon and 15 in Northern Israel. On July 19, 2006 alone, Israeli military attacks caused 70 civilian deaths. Moreover, the FIDH calls upon all parties to fully respect the Geneva Conventions and determinedly denounces the unrelenting Israeli military attacks on Lebanon over the past eight days. In addition, the FIDH firmly condemns Hizbullah’s firing of rockets against the Israeli civilian population. Both sides, in bombings cities and villages, are evidently targeting civilians. Killing civilians is a serious violation of international humanitarian law, as is stipulated in Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. According to Article 8(2)(a) of the Rome Statute, which creates the International Criminal Court and restates customary international law, these killings are likable to be considered as war crimes. And, at the very least, the killing of civilians implies international criminal responsibilities for the perpetrators of such crimes.

The FIDH condemns the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups against the Israeli civilian population.

The Israeli Army has perpetrated several types of attacks, including: bombing of roads and stationary trucks, destroying a convoy coming from the United Arab Emirates, bombing main access routes and thus making it impossible for humanitarian organizations to get into several villages in Southern Lebanon, destroying Lebanese civilian infrastructures including food-processing plants. These acts violate Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, as they constitute collective punishment perpetrated against Lebanese civilians. These acts constitute a grave breach as defined in Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and are to be considered, at the very least, as war crimes, in accordance with article 8(2)(a)(iv) of the Rome Statute.

Due to the current deteriorating situation and the flagrant violations of the fundamental principles of international humanitarian and human rights law, the FIDH calls upon the international community to act immediately and assume its responsibilities.

The FIDH calls upon the United Nations Security Council to promptly adopt a resolution in compliance with Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations and in application of the Resolution 1674/2006 on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, ensuring the protection of civilian populations, especially the Lebanese. This resolution should:

Condemn the severe violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as denounce the perpetrators of such violations.
Demand that all sides put an immediate end to all military operations.
Send an international protection force to the Israeli-Lebanese border as soon as possible in order to ensure the protection of civilians, the end of the armed struggle, and the deployment of medical and humanitarian aid.
Reinforce the role of the United Nations International Force for Lebanon (UNIFL) in order for it to carry out its mandate through in Southern Lebanon.
Call for legal action the perpetrators of these severe violations of international humanitarian law and demand compensation from those responsible for the damage inflicted upon civilian infrastructure.

Furthermore, the FIDH calls upon Switzerland, who is the depositary of the Geneva Conventions to urgently summon a meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the 4th Geneva Convention so that they can determine what measures need to be taken to fulfill their obligations, on the basis of Article 146 of the Convention, and to take to court and punish the perpetrators of serious violations of the Convention.

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