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Lebanon: UN should investigate, and arms to Israel and Hizbullah should be suspended

Amnesty International today called on the UN Security Council to meet urgently in order to adopt measures to protect civilians caught up in the deepening Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Specifically, Amnesty International called on the UN Security Council to authorise and deploy an immediate UN fact-finding mission to Lebanon and Israel to investigate attacks against civilians and civilian objects and other breaches of international humanitarian law.

The UN mission should make concrete recommendations for measures to be taken by the concerned parties to spare civilian lives, including considering whether to strengthen the existing UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) or deploy a different international peacekeeping force - in order to ensure the effective protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Amnesty International also called on the Council to order the suspension of all military supplies to Israel and Hizbullah until each party institutes the appropriate measures to ensure that civilians and civilian objects are not attacked.

Amnesty International Middle East Programme Director Malcolm Smart said:

"The past few days have seen a horrendous escalation in attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure.

“Beyond the blame game exercise, what is needed are concrete proposals for urgent action to stop the killings of civilians in both Lebanon and Israel."

Amnesty International is calling for a properly-resourced fact-finding mission conducted by impartial investigators with the necessary expertise in the conduct of criminal and forensic investigations. It should include experts in the field of forensics, ballistics, human rights and humanitarian law. Israel and Lebanon should agree to cooperate fully and grant the experts unimpeded access to people, places and documents.

In Lebanon, it is civilians who are paying the heaviest price of the Israeli bombing campaign. At least 200 civilians, including dozens of Children's rights, are reported to be among some 215 Lebanese killed by Israeli air strikes in Lebanon since 12 July. In the same period, Hizbullah’s armed wing has killed 12 Israeli civilians, including one child, in rocket attacks into Northern Israel, as well as 12 soldiers. Hundreds of others, including many civilians, have been injured on both sides.

Israeli forces have carried out large-scale destruction of civilian infrastructure throughout Lebanon, deliberately targeting and destroying dozens of bridges, roads, powers stations, the international airport and ports, grain silos and other facilities. Tens of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes, notably in South Lebanon and in the suburbs of the capital, Beirut.

Hizbullah has also shown disregard for civilian lives by deliberately firing hundreds of “katyusha” and other rockets into towns and villages in Northern Israel, killing several Israeli civilians and injuring many more, and causing substantial damage to homes and other civilian properties.

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