Those of us who have insisted that Israel's actions in Lebanon were "disproportionate" received independent and influential support yesterday in a report from Amnesty International. Those of us who additionally asked whether the question of "war crimes" should be addressed are also supported by this remarkably forthright report. Amnesty says that Israeli strikes on civilian buildings and structures went beyond "collateral damage" and amounted to "indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks under the Geneva conventions on the laws of war." It also says that "the bombardment of power and water plants and transport links was deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy." And it says, baldly, "Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes." The report describes the destruction of up to 90 per cent of some towns and villages: "In village after village the pattern was similar, the main streets were scarred with artillery shells along their length. In some cases, cluster bombs were identified. Business premises, supermarkets and petrol stations were targeted, often with precision-guided missile attacks. The tally of destruction: 7'000 Israeli airstrikes in 34 days and 2'500 naval shells; 30'000 homes, 120 bridges, 94 roads, five hospitals destroyed or severely damaged; more than one thousand Lebanese killed and almost a million displaced. Hezbollah fired 4'000 rockets at northern Israel during the conflict, killing about 40 civilians. Amnesty calls for an official UN inquiry into human rights violations on both sides of the conflict.
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