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Israel/South Lebanon: Further information on fear for safety: Civilians in parts of Lebanon and Israel

, رقم الوثيقة: MDE 15/029/1996

Israeli attacks on Lebanon have escalated sharply and AI fears for the safety of around 400,000 people who had to leave their homes in the South of Lebanon after calls by Israel or the South Lebanese Army for the population to evacuate the area.

EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 15/29/96
17 April 1996
Further information (1) on UA 100/96 (MDE 15/26/96, 12 April 1996) - Fear for
Safety
LEBANON/ISRAEL Civilians in parts of Lebanon and Israel
Israeli attacks on Lebanon have escalated sharply since the Urgent Action of
12 April 1996. Calls by Israel or the South Lebanese Army (SLA), a militia
allied to Israel, for the population to evacuate the area south of the Litani
River or risk injury or death, have forced around 400,000 people to leave their
homes in a 30-kilometre-wide strip of South Lebanon. By issuing the threat,
the Israeli authorities appear to be asserting a right to fire indiscriminately
at towns and villages in the area, showing little regard for the lives of
civilians who cannot leave the area. Attacks on houses in south Lebanese villages
have reportedly caused the deaths of up to 30 civilians and at least 166 injuries,
some of which are critical. At the same time, Hizbullah rocket attacks on
Northern Israel have continued, and up to 40 civilians have been reported
injured.
For the seventh consecutive day Israeli helicopters and warplanes attacked
the towns of Tyre and Sidon and a surrounding area covering at leat 90 villages
in South Lebanon. In addition the southern suburbs of Beirut were repeatedly
attacked and the Palestinian refugee camp of 'Ayn al-Hilweh was also hit. Israeli
army sources said the week-long bombardment of Southern Lebanon had so far
involved 1,000 aircraft sorties and 1,000 shells. Other reports suggested
that Hizbullah fired as many as 400 Katyusha rockets in 24 hours.
Since the escalation in fighting began on 11 April, only one Hizbullah member
has been killed and four wounded and no Israeli soldiers have been reported
killed, yet an attack by an Israeli helicopter on an ambulance at Hannieh in
southern Lebanon on 13 April killed two women and four children.
Statements by senior Israeli military and political authorities continue to
assert that they are taking care to avoid civilian casualties. But declarations
such as that made on 11 April by Major General Amiram Levine, in command of
Israeli forces in Lebanon, that "residents of South Lebanon who are under the
authority of Hizbullah will be hit harder" shows a disregard for civilian life.
The remark reportedly made by Prime Minister Shimon Peres that: "Unless the
Lebanese Government will be in a position to take charge of the situation...the
cost of the lack of order will be paid alas by the people of Lebanon" suggests
that the Israeli Government is acting deliberately to create a humanitarian
crisis.
Amnesty International believes that the mounting toll of civilian casualties,
the clearly expressed intention to create what amounts to a "free fire zone"
in Southern Lebanon with no regard for the fact that many civilians remain
trapped within it, and attacks on what appear to be civilian targets in many
areas, all point to the indiscriminate nature of the Israeli attack.
The International Committee of the Red Cross on 14 April issued a statement
calling on parties to the conflict to cease attacks on civilians, or civilian
property, indiscriminate attacks, attacks on medical facilities, transport
or units, and acts or threats of violence whose primary purpose is to spread
terror throughout the civilian population.
2
Katyusha rocket attacks on northern Israel by Hizbullah have also escalated
and are also being launched with apparent disregard for civilians. After the
first attack on Beirut Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, said:
"Our response to the bombing of Beirut will not be in the north of Palestine.
It will occur elsewhere, anywhere".
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in English or in your own language; indicate in your letters
that Amnesty International is making appeals to both sides in the current
conflict.
To the Israeli Government:
- expressing concern at the use of indiscriminate attacks on populated areas
of southern Lebanon to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their
homes and reminding the Israeli Government that the laws governing armed
conflict prohibit threats of violence which are intended to spread terror among
the civilian population;
- urging that the Israeli Government, in accordance with international law
governing armed conflict, in any military action in Lebanon, it take all
necessary steps to ensure the safety of civilians, such as refraining from
direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks on military targets;
- reminding the Israeli Government that under international law attacks against
the civilian population are never permissible, even as a measure of responding
to such attacks against civilians in Israel.
To Hizbullah:
- expressing concern at reports of statements by the Hizbullah leadership that
appear to indicate a disregard for the protection of civilian lives;
- urging that the Hizbullah leadership, in accordance with international law
governing armed conflict, in any military action in southern Lebanon or Israel,
take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of civilians, such as refraining
from direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks on military targets;
- reminding the Hizbullah leadership that under international law attacks
against the civilian population are never permissible, even as a measure of
responding to such attacks against civilians in Lebanon.
APPEALS TO:
ISRAEL:
Shimon Peres
Prime Minister and Minister of Defence
Office of the Prime Minister
3 Kaplan Street, Jerusalem 91007, Israel
Telegrams: Prime Minister Peres, Jerusalem, Israel
Telexes: 25279 MPRES IL
Faxes: +972 2 664 838; +972 2 6513 950
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Lieutenant-General Amnon Shahak
Chief of General Staff
c/o Ministry of Defence
7 'A' Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv, Israel
Faxes: +972 3 691 6940
Telegrams: Chief of Staff Shahak, Tel Aviv, Israel
Salutation: Dear Lieutenant-General
3
HIZBULLAH:
Shaykh Hasan Nasrallah
P.O.Box 266-25
Beirut, Lebanon
Faxes: +961 1 601 006 (say "fax please")
Salutation: Dear Shaykh Nasrallah
COPIES TO to diplomatic representatives of Israel accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 29 May 1996.

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