And my last word too…

by Avi Bell

Actually, contrary to Professor Heller’s explanation for HRW’s behavior (“given the brevity of HRW’s visit to Sreifa on July 31, the researchers would not have had time to interview residents to determine whether Hezbollah fighters had moved into the area; they would only have had time to determine whether there were any visible manifestations of their presence”), Human Rights Watch did have time on July 31 to interview Srifa residents.

The report contains these remarks, cited to a July 31 interview in Srifa:

“Two additional villagers told Human Rights Watch in separate interviews that Hezbollah had not been present in the neighborhood around the time of the attack. ‘Except for one person, who didn’t even belong to Hezbollah, no one in that neighborhood knew how to handle weapons,’ said Hussain Nazal. He added, ‘If they hit some houses that belong to Hezbollah we would understand, but this is not the [Hezbollah] neighborhood.'”

Professor Heller also claims that HRW was not overreaching by reaching the conclusion that because investigators in a site visit did not see “weapons, military equipment, or trenches,” Israel must have been targetting civilians. This is hardly a “limited claim on the basis of its limited information.” It is an extremely broad and unsupportable claim on the basis of limited information. If HRW investigators had no time or ability to investigate the presence of Hezbollah fighters in Sreifa, how can HRW claim that its investigation “is based on extensive on-the-ground research in Lebanon” and demonstrates that “Israel has violated one of the most fundamental tenets of the laws of war: the duty to carry out attacks on only military targets”?

One Response

  1. I was hoping you might discuss the following:

    UN humanitarian chief accuses Israel of ‘immoral’ use of cluster bombs

    Alexis Unkovic

    UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland [official profile] condemned Israel [UN press conference summary] Wednesday for its “immoral” use of cluster bombs [FAS backgrounder; Cluster Munition Coalition advocacy website] in the most recent Middle East conflict [JURIST news archive]. Egeland based his criticism on UN officials’ recent discovery of 359 separate sites of cluster bomblets, saying that 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution was pending. [emphasis added] Cluster munitions are considered by many human rights activists to be illegal [backgrounder] under multiple provisions of Protocol I [text] of the Geneva Conventions (1977) as they are notoriously inaccurate weapons that spread damage indiscriminately. Israel has previously denied [JURIST report] unauthorized uses of cluster munitions in Lebanon, and has insisted that its weaponry conforms with international standards. BBC News has more.

    Last week, the US State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls [official website] initiated an investigation [JURIST report] to determine whether Israel violated prior US-Israeli agreements during the Middle East conflict by targeting Lebanese citizens cluster munitions. In February, Belgium became the first country in the world to ban the manufacture and use of cluster bombs [JURIST report].

    See JURIST:

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