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UN envoys finds Israel and Hezbollah both breached international humanitarian law

[JURIST] A group of four UN human rights envoys reported Tuesday that Israel and Hezbollah [CFR backgrounder] both broke international humanitarian law during the 34-day Middle East conflict [JURIST news archive]. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's representative on displaced people Walter Kaelin, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health Paul Hunt and Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living Miloon Kothari met with government officials [JURIST report] in Israel and Lebanon and visited areas where violence took place. Their report to the Human Rights Council [official website] claims that Israel [JURIST news archive] failed to adequately protect civilians and failed to use means which would inflict the least amount of damage. It blamed Hezbollah for using almost 4,000 Katyusha rockets loaded with lethal anti-personnel ball bearings which were fired at civilian areas in northern Israel, resulting in the deaths of approximately 40 civilians.

Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report [text] last week also accusing Hezbollah of violating [JURIST report] international law by deliberately and indiscriminately killing Israeli civilians through its firing of rockets into Israel and urged for an investigation by the United Nations [official website] into alleged war crimes by both Israel and Hezbollah. Israelis have also been accused of unlawfully targeting civilians [JURIST report] and both sides have been warned by senior UN officials that they could be held liable for war crimes [JURIST report]. More than 850 Lebanese, mostly civilians, were killed during the conflict. Reuters has more.

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