Thu, Jul 20, 2006 at 7:56:24 am
No surprises here—just weary disgust—as the United Nations prepares to charge Israel with war crimes: Analysis: could Israel face war crimes charges?
A UN warning that Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon may constitute war crimes has legal legs - but with the issue as much about politics as law prosecutions are unlikely anytime soon, analysts say.
With reports of at least 300, mostly non-combatant, deaths in Lebanon during several days of air and artillery strikes, Louise Arbor, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, said that certain Israeli actions constituted “foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians” – illegal under international law.
Daniel Machover, a London-based human rights lawyer involved in the attempted prosecution of Israeli personnel for alleged war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza, agreed that reports about the number of civilian deaths and the extent of damage to civilian areas mean that Ms Arbor has “a very, very strong point”.
International law on war crimes raises the prospect that individuals can be held criminally liable for military action. As Ms Arbor pointed out, such liability is not restricted to the military, but extends to politicians who approve their operations.
“In principle a whole range of people from the Israeli Prime Minister, through senior generals down to air force or artillery gunners could be guilty of war crimes,” Mr Machover said.