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In cases of doubt, a person must be considered a civilian and not a legitimate military target. It represents the most comprehensive study of civilian deaths in Lebanon to date, based on extensive on-the-ground research. During the course of five months of continuous research in Lebanon and Israel, Human Rights Watch investigated the deaths of more than persons during Israeli air and groundstrikes and collected additional summary information about an additional deaths, thus accounting for a total number of 1, deaths civilians and combatants from the day conflict.

Human Rights Watch interviewed more than victims and witnesses of attacks in one-on-one settings and collected information from hospitals, humanitarian groups, journalists, military experts, and government agencies.

We visited more than fifty villages and conducted on-site inspections. Human Rights Watch approached Israeli officials for information on a number of occasions. We also sent a letter on January 8, to then-Defense Minister Amir Peretz requesting detailed information about the cases described in this report, which is attached as an appendix to this report. Human Rights Watch also talked to Israeli soldiers and officers to learn more about the instructions the IDF gave to its soldiers and the precautions it took to avoid civilian casualties.

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This report does not address Israeli attacks on Lebanon's infrastructure, which have been reported on elsewhere, [21] or Israel's use of cluster munitions, which we will release a separate report on shortly.

It also does not address Hezbollah's rocket attacks on Israel, which we also have reported on separately, in Civilians under Assault: Hezbollah's Rocket Attacks on Israel during the War.

This report corrects two major and several minor inaccuracies from Human Rights Watch's earlier report issued during the war Fatal Strikes: Further Human Rights Watch investigations into a deadly strike at Srifa established that an Israeli attack there killed 17 combatants and five civilians on July 19, not the 26 civilians claimed in Fatal Strikes.

Human Rights Watch regrets these two major inaccuracies in its Fatal Strikes report. We have corrected several smaller errors relating to dates of strikes, ages and names of victims, and the previously unreported presence of an empty Hezbollah civilian office in a building targeted by an Israeli air strike in Bint Jbeil that killed two civilians.

Wherever we have corrected errors from previous reports, the text or footnotes of this report clearly identify the information corrected. To avoid any such mistakes in this report, we reexamined all of the cases included in Fatal Strikes and conducted additional interviews, site inspections, and visits to graveyards to establish whether victims were civilians or combatants.

In addition, we investigated a further 71 cases in similar detail. Thus, our findings do not rely on any one piece of evidence or witness testimony, but rather on multiple pieces of evidence that together provide the information needed to verify the circumstances and victims of each attack.

Our findings in this report reconfirm the central conclusion of Fatal Strikes: Recommendations To the Government of Israel Amend and revise wartime policies and military strategies that treat all persons remaining in an area following warnings to evacuate as combatants or civilians subject to attack, and instead ensure full compliance with international legal obligations prohibiting indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, and that require all feasible precautions be taken to avoid civilian casualties; Amend and revisepolicies and military strategies that authorize the IDF to target people or structures associated with Hezbollah institutions, regardless as to whether they constitute valid military objectives under international humanitarian law, and to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to avoid civilian casualties; Order the Israeli military to conduct a review of its operational guidelines.

This review should focus in particular on the process of selecting targets and the types of weapons used. The review should be public and conducted by a special commission including members of the military, the Knesset, and independent legal experts. Institute procedures within the Israeli military to ensure that it conducts all military operations in full accordance with international humanitarian law treaties and customary law.

Special operational attention should be given in the Israeli military to prohibit and prevent attacks that do not distinguish between military objectives and civilians, unlawfully target civilians who are not legitimate military objectives, or cause harm to civilians that is disproportionate to the expected military gain. Ratify the First and Second Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions ofor at least publicly affirm the provisions that bind Israel as a matter of customary international law.

Investigate Israeli government officials, IDF officers, and soldiers who ordered or directly committed serious violations of the laws of war and impose disciplinary measures or criminally prosecute as appropriate. Expand the mandate of the Winograd Commission to investigate laws of war violations by the IDF during the armed conflict, and the responsibility of IDF commanders for such violations.

To Hezbollah Adopt operational measures to ensure the compliance of Hezbollah forces with the requirements of international humanitarian law. Take all feasible measures to ensure that Hezbollah forces do not place civilians at unnecessary risk because of their deployments or the placement of weapons and ammunition in populated areas. Reaffirm to all military forces the absolute duty never to use civilians or other noncombatants to shield military forces and materiel from attack.

Investigate in particular the incidents of fire from nearby UN positions to determine whether fighters intentionally used the presence of the UN to shield themselves from attack. Adopt recommendations set out in Civilians under Assault with respect to rocket attacks on Israel in violation of the laws of war.

Ensure that individual members of Hezbollah are trained in the laws of war and abide by them. Take appropriate disciplinary measures against members who act in violation of the law.

To the Government of Lebanon While recognizing the political difficulties presently faced by the government of Lebanon, we urge it to take the following measures at the earliest time feasible, consistent with its state responsibilities and obligations: Take appropriate steps to ensure that Hezbollah implements the recommendations listed above. Interdict the delivery of rockets to Hezbollah so long as it continues to use rockets in violation of international humanitarian law, by firing at civilians or firing indiscriminately into civilian areas.

Investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law by Hezbollah forces. We believe the credibility of the investigation would be heightened were it to be conducted by an independent and credible committee of respected national experts in international humanitarian law.

Investigate and prosecute members of Hezbollah who have individual or command responsibility for the alleged commission of war crimes. Cooperate with international investigations into violations of international humanitarian law. To the Secretary General of the United Nations Use your influence with Israel and Hezbollah to urge them to adopt measures to better comply with international humanitarian law.

Establish an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, in Lebanon and Israel and to formulate recommendations with a view to holding accountable those on both sides of the conflict who violated the law.

To the Government of the United States Conduct a full investigation into Israel's use of US-supplied arms, ammunition, and other materiel in violation of international humanitarian law. Suspend transfers to Israel of arms, ammunition, and other materiel that have been documented or credibly alleged to have been used in violation of international humanitarian law in Lebanon, as well as funding or support for such materiel, pending certification by the US State Department that Israel has stopped using, and has made clear commitments not to use in the future, such arms, ammunition, and other material in violation of international humanitarian law.

To the Governments of Syria and Iran Do not permit transfers to Hezbollah of arms, ammunition, and other materiel that have been documented or credibly alleged to have been used in violation of international humanitarian law in Lebanon, as well as funding or support for such materiel, pending a commitment by Hezbollah that it will not use such arms or material in violation of international humanitarian law. Methodology This report is based primarily on investigations by Human Rights Watch researchers who were in Lebanon from the onset of the conflict and who carried out investigations throughout the conflict July August 14, as well as in the months after the conflict August-December Human Rights Watch has long experience in investigating the conduct of armed conflict.

Human Rights Watch monitors and reports on conflicts around the world, from the civil war between the Maoist and government forces in Nepal to the multi-dimensional conflict in Iraq. Our investigations have contributed to the prosecution of war criminals and genocide suspects from Rwanda, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Human Rights Watch has covered previous armed conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah. Our report, Civilian Pawns: Our investigations are guided by international humanitarian law, also known as the laws of war, which can be found in treaties such as the Geneva Conventions ofand by customary international law.

The aim of our investigations is to provide an impartial account of the adherence to the law of all parties to a conflict-including non-state actors such as Hezbollah-and to document serious violations of that law. Human Rights Watch researchers are trained in the laws of war and professional investigation techniques, and have many years of experience working in conflict zones.

During the conflict, Human Rights Watch issued a preliminary report of its findings, Fatal Strikes: The report was based on Human Rights Watch's extensive on-the-ground investigations into some two dozen incidents in which IDF bombing and missile attacks killed civilians. It concluded that the IDF consistently committed indiscriminate attacks in which it failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians and that some of those responsible had committed possible war crimes.

The report also concluded that in some cases, the timing and intensity of the attack, the absence of a military target, as well as return strikes on rescuers suggested that individual Israeli combatants may have deliberately targeted civilians, although Human Rights Watch has no evidence that this was done as a matter of policy.

The report explicitly recognized the limitations of its findings because the ongoing fighting limited the information and investigative opportunities available to researchers: Human Rights Watch researchers visited over 50 villages, towns, and locations to assess the impact of the war on the civilian population of Lebanon, and interviewed over persons to get as accurate a picture as possible about individual incidents. We selected these villages and towns because civilians had died in them.

The end of hostilities dramatically improved the research climate, as researchers were able to locate and interview witnesses in the privacy of their own homes and to conduct on-site visits to attack sites and cemeteries around Lebanon. Human Rights Watch researchers followed a standard methodology to investigate the impact of the war on civilians throughout Lebanon. In each village, town, or location investigated by Human Rights Watch, our investigators first established the total number of persons reportedly killed, civilian and combatant.

The researchers then interviewed local officials as well as family members and eyewitnesses to the incidents in which persons were killed, to establish the exact circumstances of those killings. In the majority of villages visited, our researchers were able to investigate every death in the village.

We conducted all interviews separately and independently from each other, so witnesses were normally unaware of what others had already told Human Rights Watch. Each interview normally lasted about one hour, and was designed to gather enough factual detail to assess the consistency of, and corroborate information given by, different witness accounts. Human Rights Watch asked interviewees for as much information as they had about attacks.

We attempted to ask each person the same set of questions about an attack, but on some occasions witnesses could not provide answers to particular questions, such as the location of Hezbollah fighters or weapons, simply because they did not have such information available to them.

In each instance, Human Rights Watch researchers endeavored to find multiple witnesses to individual events, in order to allow for corroboration and the checking for consistency of accounts.

To ensure that witnesses would speak candidly about both Israeli and Hezbollah abuses, Human Rights Watch researchers conducted all interviews in as private a setting as possible, and explained to witnesses that they could chose to remain anonymous to prevent relatiation.

In all cases, the identities of the witnesses are on file with Human Rights Watch. In addition to the detailed interviews, Human Rights Watch also conducted on-site investigations of attack sites, examining them for signs of Hezbollah presence or the types of weapons used. For each site visited, Human Rights Watch researchers photographed the site, documented any forensic evidence found, and collected the GPS coordinates.

A banner announcing the death of a Hezbollah combatant in the village of Yatar. Our researchers also examined the many "martyr" posters found throughout Lebanon to establish whether certain individuals killed were civilians or combatants.

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The information collected by Human Rights Watch researchers from cemeteries and "martyr" posters proved important in corroborating whether an individual was a civilian, combatant, or Hezbollah official. In southern Lebanon and elsewhere in the country, many consider it an honor for persons who died in the conflict to be identified as a "martyr" or "fighter," with little likelihood that a Hezbollah fighter would be buried as a civilian.

Human Rights Watch did not find any cases in which known combatants or Hezbollah officials killed in the conflict were buried as civilians, or where the family or Hezbollah officials denied a person's status as a fighter or Hezbollah official.

Burial practices also distinguish between civilian members of Hezbollah or other militant organizations, who are buried merely with a Hezbollah or other militant organization's symbol on their grave stone, and Hezbollah fighters or fighters from other militant groupswho are buried as military "martyrs" with distinct markings on their grave stones and Koranic verses different from those used on the graves of Hezbollah civilian members or other civilians.

Hezbollah commanders and elite fighters who died in combat have additional markings on their grave stones, such as an identification of their leadership position e. The tombstone is marked as that of a Hezbollah combatant, with the official Hezbollah symbols and a description of the deceased as a "Martyr Leader. Safi" and states that he died in the Taibe fighting. Human Rights Watch researchers visited graveyards throughout Lebanon to assist them in distinguishing between civilians and combatants who died in the conflict.

The graves of civilians did not bear Hezbollah symbols, and killed civilian were not claimed as martyrs by Hezbollah or other armed groups. Human Rights Watch researchers visited graveyards throughout Lebanon to assist them in determining the status of individuals who died in the conflict.

The visits to cemeteries provided an important safeguard against potential misrepresentations by witnesses. For instance, in our Fatal Strikes report issued during the war, eyewitnesses were not always forthcoming about the identity of those that died, and in the case of Srifa, misled our researchers. After the conflict, a visit to the graveyard made it possible to establish that most of those killed in Srifa were actually combatants because they were buried as "martyrs," not civilians.

Human Rights Watch researchers, using corroborative visits to the cemetaries, did not find any other cases where witnesses deliberately tried to mislead us on whether casualties were civilian or militants. In addition to interviewing persons who witnessed attacks, Human Rights Watch also conducted numerous interviews with various officials, including Lebanese military and humanitarian officials; Hezbollah members and officials; UNIFIL and other United Nations officials; members of the Lebanese Civil Defense and the Lebanese Red Cross who were present at various recovery efforts, as well as their spokespersons; representatives of international and local humanitarian organizations; doctors and officials at various hospitals that received the wounded and the dead; international and local journalists and photographers; and diplomats, academics, and other policy makers.

To further check the accuracy of our research, Human Rights Watch reviewed all publicly available information about the incidents it investigated, including statements of the IDF and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; international, Israeli, and Lebanese newspapers, wire services, and magazines in English, Hebrew, and Arabic ; statements by local and international organizations; and reports by local and international human rights and other investigative agencies such as the UNHRC's Commission of Inquiry to ensure that there were no accounts that contradicted our own findings.

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Whenever we found contradictory or additional information, Human Rights Watch carried out additional investigations and interviews to determine the accuracy of our information. Where we could not resolve factual contradictions, this report reflects the competing accounts and makes it clear that there are contradictory accounts of individual incidents.

Human Rights Watch researchers sought information from Israeli officials, including the IDF and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about the various attacks investigated by Human Rights Watch, as well as any evidence to support claims of Hezbollah shielding practices in these attacks. Human Rights Watch provided Israeli officials with a complete list of place names, GPS coordinates, and times of the attacks it was investigating Lebanese and Israeli place names do not always correspond, and attacks are normally logged by GPS location and time of attack, not the name of the location.

Human Rights Watch received only a limited response to its queries to Israeli officials, but this report reflects those responses where relevant. In addition, the report reflects any public IDF statements. This report focuses on the behavior of Hezbollah with respect to its conduct inside Lebanon; Civilians under Assault: Hezbollah's Rocket Attacks on Israel during the War focuses specifically on Hezbollah's rocket campaign against Israel.

A note on terminology: It has both a military wing known as the "Islamic Resistance" or al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya and non-military organizations, such as its political party, its educational institutions, and its social welfare organizations, including hospitals. Because most Lebanese civilians distinguish between the Hezbollah organization as a whole and its military or "resistance" wing, this report keeps the term "resistance" when witnesses used it during quoted interviews.

The use of the word "resistance" in this report is not meant to imply a Human Rights Watch position on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of Hezbollah's military campaign against Israel. Like other Lebanese political parties, Hezbollah has thousands of members who are not actively involved in any aspect of its military operations. While Hezbollah combatants are legitimate military targets, ordinary members of Hezbollah, as well as Hezbollah officials not directing or engaged in military activities, are not legitimate military targets.

The term mukhtar identifies a local official in Lebanon who performs various administrative tasks such as birth registrations or authentication of documents. In Lebanese villages, mukhtars know a lot about the community they serve and represent an important source of information. In accordance with its institutional mandate, Human Rights Watch maintains a position of strict neutrality on matters concerning the legitimacy of resorting to war because we find it the best way to promote our primary goal of encouraging all sides in the course of the conflict to respect international humanitarian law.

Accordingly, this report does not address whether Hezbollah or Israel was justified or acting legally in their decisions to go to war or to escalate the war. We look only at how they complied with their legal duties to spare civilians the hazards of that war.

Legal Standards Applicable to the Conflict A. Applicable International Law The armed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in July-August fell within a body of law called international humanitarian law, also known as the laws of war. The sources of humanitarian law are treaty law and customary law, which binds both states and non-state armed groups.

The most relevant treaty law to the conflict is the Geneva Conventions ofto which virtually all states are party, including Israel and Lebanon. Article 2 common to the Geneva Conventions provides for the full applicability of the conventions when there is an armed conflict between High Contracting Parties that is, statesor when there has been a partial or total occupation of a High Contracting Party even when that occupation meets with no resistance from the state.

In general, the Geneva Conventions provide for the security and well being of persons no longer taking part in the hostilities, namely captured combatants, the wounded, and civilians in the control of belligerent forces.

They also provide special protections, for instance, to medical personnel and hospitals. There has been controversy over the humanitarian law applicable to Hezbollah. Unless Hezbollah forces are considered to be a part of the Lebanese armed forces, demonstrated allegiance to such forces, or were under the direction or effective control of the government of Lebanon, [25] there is a basis for finding that hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah are covered by the humanitarian law rules for a non-international that is, non-intergovernmental armed conflict.

Whether captured Hezbollah or Israeli fighters would be entitled to the protections of the Third Geneva Convention for prisoners of war, the Fourth Geneva Convention for protected persons, or only the basic protections of common article 3, would depend on the legal characterization of the conflict and a factual analysis of Hezbollah and its relationship to the Lebanese armed forces. Such an analysis is not necessary for analyzing the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, the focus of this report.

Nevertheless, many of the provisions of Protocol I have been recognized by states, including Israel, to be reflective of customary international law. Customary humanitarian law as it relates to the fundamental principles concerning conduct of hostilities is now recognized as largely the same whether it is applied to an international or a non-international armed conflict. Protections for Civilians and Civilian Objects International humanitarian law limits permissible means and methods of warfare by parties to an armed conflict and requires them to respect and protect civilians and captured combatants.

The First Additional Protocol of to the Geneva Conventions Protocol I [32] and the Hague Regulations lay out the law that protects civilians during armed conflict. Article 48 of Protocol I states, "the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.

Civilian objects are those that are not considered military objectives. Examples of indiscriminate attacks are those that "are not directed at a specific military objective" or that use means that "cannot be directed at a specific military objective. Any attack, whether by aerial bombardment or other means, that treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village, or other area containing a concentration of civilians and civilian objects, is regarded as an indiscriminate attack and prohibited.

Similarly, if a combatant launches an attack without attempting to aim properly at a military target, or in such a way as to hit civilians without regard to the likely extent of death or injury, it would amount to an indiscriminate attack. Also prohibited are attacks that violate the principle of proportionality. Disproportionate attacks are those that are "expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians [or] damage to civilian objectives Doing "everything feasible to verify" that the objects to be attacked are military objectives and not civilians or civilian objects.

If there are doubts about whether a potential target is of a civilian or military character, it "shall be presumed" to be civilian.

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Humanitarian law prohibits belligerents from using civilians to shield military objectives or military operations from attack. Placing ammunition dumps in the center of a town during peacetime is a clear violation. Storing ammunition in civilian areas during fighting will be lawful or unlawful depending on a various factors, such as whether the warring faction took proactive steps to remove civilians from the vicinity, and whether other locations that did not endanger civilians presented themselves.

Unlawfully placing forces, weapons, and ammunition within or near densely populated areas amounts to shielding only when there is a specific intent to use the civilians to deter an attack. With respect to individual responsibility, serious violations of international humanitarian law, including deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks harming civilians, when committed with criminal intent are grave breaches see Additional Protocol I or, in common parlance, war crimes.

Individuals may also be held criminally liable for attempting to commit a war crime, as well as assisting in, facilitating, aiding or abetting a war crime. Responsibility may also fall on persons planning or instigating the commission of a war crime. Background to the Israel-Hezbollah war A. Hezbollah's "Operation Truthful Promise" At about 9 a. The Hezbollah operation appears to have been well-planned, as it was preceded by diversionary Hezbollah rocket fire on IDF positions at the coast and near the Israeli town of Zarit.

An eighth IDF soldier was killed in the fighting that followed to retrieve the bodies and wounded from the tank. We have also criticized Hezbollah for holding these detainees as hostages whose release is conditioned on Israel's release of a large number of its detainees.

Israel's "Operation Change of Direction" After the abduction of the two soldiers, Hezbollah perhaps expected a response from Israel limited to several days of air strikes on Hezbollah targets, followed by a prisoner exchange negotiation, as had happened during prior hostage-taking incidents.

Prime Minister Olmert declared Hezbollah's raid into Israel and the capture of the two IDF soldiers an "act of war" by the government of Lebanon, and stated that "Lebanon is responsible and Lebanon will bear the consequences of its actions. On July 13, Israel imposed a total land, sea, and air blockade on Lebanon that would continue until September, well after the ceasefire began on August 14, Halvard gynecologist marinated, his el pianista trailer latino dating site pelispedia.

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