Skip to comments.Think tank: Hezbollah used human shields
Posted on 12/05/2006 12:30:17 PM PST by NormsRevenge
JERUSALEM - An Israeli think tank with strong links to the military released videos and testimony Tuesday it said proved Hezbollah guerrillas used civilians as human shields during last summer's war in Lebanon.
The report's authors hoped to challenge allegations that Israel committed war crimes when it attacked residential areas during the war.
Although no formal war crimes charges have been filed against either side, Israel has taken the brunt of international criticism. Israel is especially sensitive about the possibility of legal action because of previous lawsuits and indictments abroad against Israeli leaders and military officers.
The 300-page report, compiled by a military intelligence expert who has an office in the Defense Ministry, argues that Lebanese government and media reports of the number of civilians killed in Lebanon were exaggerated.
More than 850 Lebanese, most of them civilians, were killed in Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks during the 34-day war, which began after Hezbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. The guerrillas bombarded northern Israel with nearly 4,000 rockets, killing 39 civilians. Also, 120 Israeli soldiers were killed in the violence.
Israel says its attacks against Hezbollah targets in populated areas did not violate international law.
The report, first released to The New York Times, said Hezbollah operated from civilian areas to deter the Israeli military and gain a propaganda advantage if an Israeli counterattack caused civilian casualties. Guerrillas stashed weapons in hundreds of homes and mosques, had missile transports closely follow ambulances and fired rockets from positions near U.N. monitoring posts, the report said.
Much of the material was released earlier, but some was recently declassified, including interviews with Hezbollah prisoners and aerial photographs showing the Hezbollah buildup in civilian areas.
One video included in the report showed what it identified as a captive Hezbollah guerrilla telling interrogators how the militia rented houses in residential areas to secretly store missiles.
"Even the owner of the house, he knows he's giving (the building) to Hezbollah, they rent it for instance, but its not possible for him to know what's in it," said the man, identified as 30-year-old Maher Hassan Mahmoud Kourani.
A Hezbollah official dismissed the Israeli report as "totally untrue," saying it was part of "a campaign to vilify Hezbollah and justify the unjustified Israeli massacres in Lebanon."
"These allegations are part of Israeli propaganda aimed at protecting Israel's generals and officials who face accusations of committing massacres against Lebanese civilians during the summer war," Hussein Rahhal, Hezbollah's media chief, told The Associated Press in Lebanon.
Amnesty International said the report did not contain many new allegations.
"In terms of the fact that Hezbollah had weapons, tunnels, militia facilities in villages, no one disputes it. Hezbollah does not dispute it," said Claudio Cordone, a senior director of research at Amnesty.
Cordone called for an international inquiry.
The Israeli study was prepared by military intelligence expert Reuven Ehrlich, a retired lieutenant colonel who heads the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a private think tank.
"I think it could offer a response to allegations of human rights organizations on why the Israel Defense Forces operated in civilian areas," he said.
Ehrlich's study, citing Israeli military intelligence, disputes Lebanese and media accounts of civilian casualties, stating that at least 450 and as many as 650 of the Lebanese killed were Hezbollah operatives.
Three chapters in the report addressing the war crimes issue were prepared by the Israeli military's legal department in conjunction with Foreign Ministry lawyers, the report said.
Experience has prepared Israel for the possibility of such charges.
In 2001, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was tried in absentia in Belgium, though not convicted, in connection with a 1982 massacre in Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut.
Critics who have accused Israel of war crimes in Palestinian territories have sought to arrest Israeli military officers overseas, and some have only narrowly escaped incarceration.
Since 2000, several European countries including Britain and Belgium have given war crimes cases "momentum across the continent," Human Rights Watch said in a recent report.
Complaints have been filed against military chief Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz and his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, in connection with a 2002 airstrike that killed a Hamas leader and 14 others, nine of them children.
On the Net:
American Jewish Congress
A Palestinian man decorates an inflatable Santa Claus doll in front of his shop in the West Bank city of Bethlehem ahead of the Christmas holiday December 5, 2006. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK)
Does it really require a think tank to prove Hizballah terrorist tactics?
Why are these two together and alive in Damascus?
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (R) talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh during a meeting
with leaders of the Palestinian factions in Damascus December 5, 2006.
REUTERS/Suhaib Salem (SYRIA)
I was just thinking that. I could have come to that conclusion in about a minute flat. Apparently I'm in the wrong business.
The US and Israel play too nice for the type of enemies we fight.
Tell me something I don't know.
Shocked just shocked I tell you......
To the powers that be, this is a revelation...
...which tells VOLUMES on exactly how stupid the leaders of the world currently are.
Most leaders, but not our President, he knows exactly the evil of these terrorists.
Oh... they knew, but just chose to ignore facts. Why is nobody screaming "war crimes" about this? Oh wait, only Israel can be guilty of "war crimes".
It's almost funny this is "news."
That, NR, is the question of the day and unfortunately there are more like them in other places.
Impartial AP reporting.
Hasn't it already been proven that the MSM publishes terrorist press releases as "news"?
I submit this paragraph is a classic example...
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