German AI Head Wants Fact-Finding Mission in Lebanon | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 28.07.2006
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German AI Head Wants Fact-Finding Mission in Lebanon

With fighting between Israel and Hezbollah now into its third week, the head of Amnesty International's German branch said her organization wants to send a commission to Lebanon to investigate possible war crimes.

Israeli soldiers fire at targets in southern Lebanon

Israeli soldiers fire at targets in southern Lebanon

Amnesty International would like to investigate possible war crimes, said Barbara Lochbihler, general secretary of the German branch of the human rights organization.

"We cannot just protest these killings,'' Lochbihler told DW-RADIO. ''We also see that the international community itself needs to establish, for example, an international fact-finding mission under the protocol of the Geneva Convention to investigate these attacks to see if they amount to war crimes."

On-the-ground work would be helpful when settling future questions of how victims of the attack should be compensated, Lochbihler said.

Lochbihler accused both Israel and Hezbollah of violating international humanitarian law. She said that the Geneva Convention prohibit the disproportionate use of force. That applied in particular to Israeli attacks on civilian targets believed to have been commandeered for military purposes.

Attacks agai n st civilia n s must e n d

Frau in Bazouriyeh, Libanon

Lebanese citizens find themselves caught in the crossfire

The head of Amnesty International's German branch also urged the government in Berlin to employ all diplomatic means at its disposal to ensure that attacks on civilians stopped.

Another human rights group, Human Rights Watch, has accused Israel of using cluster bombs. For Barbara Lochbihler, these munitions are particularly pernicious.

"It is very clear that we oppose these cluster bombs because they indiscriminately affect civilians, not just the so-called enemy,'' Lochbihler said. ''And there are similar symptoms and results like anti-personnel mines that people who touch these bomblets even later, they explode easily and even if a conflict is over, a hot conflict, a lot of civilians and children will be maimed and killed."

The Israeli Army has denied that it takes aim at civilians, saying it used only weapons and ammunition that would best hit its targets with a minimum of collateral damage.

Earlier this week, Amnesty International called for an embargo on weapons sales to Israel and Hezbollah and also appealed to major governments around the world to dispatch immediate aid to civilians caught up in the conflict.

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