VIII. Civilian Casualty Incidents Investigated by Human Rights Watch
During the course of five months of research in Lebanon and Israel, Human Rights Watch investigated in depth the deaths of over 561 persons during Israeli air and groundstrikes, and collected information about an additional 548 deaths, thus accounting for a total number of 1,109 deaths (approximately 860 civilians and approximately 250 combatants196) from the 34-day conflict. Our research is the most comprehensive available documenting how, and why, civilians died during the conflict.
In order to give as complete a picture of the Israel military campaign as possible, this section provides details on 94 attacks involving the deaths of 510 civilians and 51 Hezbollah fighters that we investigated in depth. The relevant details of these attacksdate, time, place, GPS coordinates, deaths, and mode of attackare also summarized in a table annexed to this report.
Most of the cases described suggest humanitarian law violations; however, the mere fact of civilian casualties does not mean that a humanitarian law violation occurred. While many of these attacks involved solely civilian deaths with no evidence of military objectives, others did strike a legitimate military target. Accordingly, not all of the cases included in this chapter involve violations of the laws of war by Israeli forces since we also include cases of legitimate military strikes by the Israeli forces that resulted solely in combatant casualties (from Hezbollah or other military groups), or combatant and collateral civilian casualties.
In other cases included in this chapter, unlawful Hezbollah actionsincluding the unlawful storage of weapons in civilian homes and firing of rockets from populated civilian areascontributed directly to deadly Israeli counterstrikes. Because the media reported some of these cases as involving only civilian casualties, we have included them in this report to clarify the circumstances. Our findings make clear that not all civilian casualties are indicative of a violation of the laws of war. However, as demonstrated in the case studies below, the vast majority of cases involving civilian casualties involved solely civilian casualties, with no evidence of any military objectives in the vicinity.
There still is no complete list of all deadly attacks that took place inside Lebanon during the 34-day conflict, as many Israeli strikes were and continue to be unreported and undocumented. In almost all of the southern Lebanese villages visited by Human Rights Watch, researchers found new, previously undocumented and unreported cases of civilian and Hezbollah deaths. Human Rights Watch did not visit every village in southern Lebanon, and it is nearly certain that there are many more cases of civilian deaths that are not included in this report or reported elsewhere.
In many cases of civilian and Hezbollah deaths, moreover, there were no witnesses, and no reliable information exists regarding the circumstances of the deaths. This is especially true in the case of deaths involving Hezbollah fighters, since Hezbollah often refused to discuss the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their fighters. There are also many cases of civilians, especially elderly civilians, who were found dead in the rubble of their homes after the war, without any witnesses knowing exactly when and why the home had been struck. In addition to the cases of 510 civilian and 51 Hezbollah deaths documented by Human Rights Watch in this section of the report, Human Rights Watch obtained some information about an additional 548 deaths, mainly from visiting graveyards and reviewing hospital records, but does not know the exact circumstances of those deaths. Taken together, Human Rights Watch can thus account for a total of 1,109 deaths (approximately 860 civilians and approximately 250 combatants) from the 34-day conflict.
This chapter breaks the deaths into several categories: those due to attacks striking civilian homes, those due to attacks on civilian vehicles fleeing the conflict, collateral civilian deaths in strikes on infrastructure, and unlawful killings by Israeli ground forces. Each section includes a discussion of legitimate attacks on Hezbollah military targets, in order to give as complete a picture of the Israeli campaign as possible.
A. Attacks on Civilian Homes
Following the initial bombing on July 12 of southern roads, bridges, villages, and Hezbollah targets for the stated purpose of preventing Hezbollah from moving the two captured IDF soldiers, Israel began a more widespread bombing campaign against suspected Hezbollah targets just before 4 a.m. on July 13, carrying out pinpoint strikes on suspected Hezbollah members homes and weapons stores. Israel claims to have destroyed most of Hezbollahs long-range missiles in this early-hour raid (which reportedly lasted 34 minutes).197 Human Rights Watch found that many of those strikes killed only civilians, although at least one hit a Hezbollah weapons store.
Killing of 10 Civilians in Baflay, July 13
At around 3:50 a.m. on July 13, two air strikes completely destroyed the two-story home of Munir Zain, and killed 10 persons inside. Zain was a farmer who also owned a truck used to collect the garbage in his village of Baflay, 10 kilometers east of Tyre. Ahmad Roz, a 46-year-old salesman who lived just 150 meters from the Zain home, described the attack to Human Rights Watch:
Munir Zains cousin, Qasim Zain, a 24-year-old who worked for the Lebanese Civil Defense and assisted with the recovery effort after the strike, recalled being dumbfounded by the level of destruction. Everything was destroyed; the biggest pieces we found were single bricks. Ive witnessed the result of a lot of air strikes, but had never seen anything like this. The entire area was covered with grey dust, and the two-story building was completely flat.199
Those killed in the attack include: Munir Zain, 47; his wife Najla, 42; his five children `Ali, 19, a Lebanese army soldier; Wala, 18; Hassan, 13; Fatima, seven; and Hussain, four; two Kuwaiti nationals who had arrived a week earlier, Haidar bin Nahi, 40, Munirs son-in-law, and Abdullah bin Nahi, 70, Haidars father; and a Sri Lankan maid whose name was unknown to witnesses.200
The villagers of Baflay and the Zain family denied that Munir or his family had any links to Hezbollah. His cousin, Qasim, said:
Other villagers also said that Munir had no connection to Hezbollah, and that there was no Hezbollah military activity in the vicinity of his home at the time of the attack.202 Hezbollah has not claimed any of the people killed in the attack as fighters or martyrs; there are no Hezbollah martyr posters for the family, and they have been buried as civilians, a strong indication that they had no links to Hezbollah.
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the Zain home. A field visit to the Zain home reveals a possible explanation. It is located at the very outskirts of Baflay, at the end of a dead-end road with an unpopulated valley and olive groves behind it; Munir had his garbage truck parked next to the home. It is possible that the IDF mistook the location of the home and the presence of the truck as signs of a Hezbollah rocket firing position, as Hezbollah often fired truck-mounted missiles from unpopulated areas on the outskirts of villages. The initial wave of Israeli strikes reportedly targeted Hezbollahs long- and medium-range missiles. According to a report compiled by the IDF-affiliated Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Hezbollah fired a number of rockets from and near Baflay during the war.203 However, all the villagers interviewed by Human Rights Watch were consistent in stating that there was no Hezbollah military activity in the vicinity of Munirs home prior to the attack, so it is unlikely the Israeli attack was in response to evidence of actual Hezbollah rocket fire from the location.
Killing of Four Civilians in Srifa, July 13
At around 3:50 a.m. on July 13, an IDF air strike demolished the home of 34-year-old `Akil Merhi, a Brazilian-Lebanese dual national, killing him, his wife, and his two young children. Fatima Musa, a Srifa resident who lived just next to the Merhi home, described what happened that night to Human Rights Watch:
Akil Merhi was a Brazilian-Lebanese businessman who lived and worked in Brazil, and had returned to Srifa for a summer holiday just one month prior to his death. He was well-known in Srifa for his generosity to his home village and used much of his business earnings to help develop Srifa, but was not affiliated with Hezbollah. According to his relatives, Merhi, like many Lebanese, had spent the night discussing the July 12 Hezbollah abductions and the subsequent events with his friends in Srifa, who included Shi`a religious figures, Sayyids and Shaikhs, but it was not a Hezbollah meeting.205 Merhi left his friends house at 3 a.m; his home was struck as soon as he entered it and turned on the light: When he entered the house and turned on the light, the missile came, so they were targeting him, a cousin recalled. He was still dressed in his [going-out] clothes when we found his body.206
In a statement, the IDF claimed to have struck two Hezbollah bases in Srifa on that day.207
The family of four killed in the attack were all Brazilian-Lebanese dual nationals: `Akil Merhi, 34; his wife Ahlam Jaber, 25; and their children `Abd al-Hadi, 9, and Fatima, 4. Hezbollah claimed neither `Akil nor his wife as martyrs or fighters, and they are buried as civilians. There are no martyr posters of the Merhis to suggest any Hezbollah affiliation.
According to villagers, fire from Israeli warplanes initially prevented them from recovering the bodies from the rubble. According to one witness:
There was no Hezbollah activity around the home when the second missile struck, the villagers said.
Wounding of Three Civilians during Attack on Home of Hezbollah Military Official, al-Shehabiyye, July 13
At about 3:50 a.m. on July 13, an Israeli air strike hit the home of Mahmud Baydun, a 45-year-old welder who was also a village-level Hezbollah military official in al-Shehabiyye, a village located about 10 kilometers east of the southern port city of Tyre, on the main highway to Tibnine. Baydun was at home with his wife and five children at the time of the attack. The attack injured three of Bayduns sons: Samih, 20, Muhammad, 17, and Ahmad, 10, none of whom were affiliated with Hezbollah.209 By remaining in his home, Mahmud Baydun endangered the lives of his civilian family members. Even if Israel was targeting a legimate military target (Mahmud Baydun, a Hezbollah military official) in the strike, Israel would be responsible for taking into account the likely civilian casualties of attacking him in his home in determining whether the military gain of attacking him there outweighed the civilian harm.
Killing of 13 Civilians in Dweir, July 13
On Thursday, July 13, at about 4:00 a.m., Israeli warplanes struck the home of Shi`a cleric Shaikh `Adil Muhammad Akash, killing the cleric and 11 members of his family. Shaikh Akash was an Iranian-educated cleric believed to have been affiliated with Hezbollah, but there is no indication that he took part in hostilities or had a commanding role, either of which would have made him a legitimate military target. Hezbollah members in Dweir told Human Rights Watch that Shaikh Akash was not involved in Hezbollah military activities, stating that he was simply a religious figure in the village.210 However, Shaikh Akash does appear on a poster of Hezbollah martyrs from the village, indicating he had links with Hezbollah; however, an association alone does not establish combatant status.
Shaikh Akash taught at a Shi`a religious seminary in Saida that an Israeli air strike destroyed on July 23. According to some residents of Saidaa mostly Sunni town that generally does not support Hezbollahthe seminary where Shaikh Akash taught was a Hezbollah mosque, and some have made unconfirmed and questionable claims that Hezbollah used the seminary to store weapons.211
The first missile demolished the two-story home located on the edge of Dweir, in a sparsely populated area on the road to Jibchit. A second missile fired minutes later failed to explode. According to an eyewitness who lived nearby, the Shaikh and his family had returned to the home just twenty minutes before the strikemany Lebanese families had spent that night visiting friends to discuss the events of the previous day and the war that had started. The strike killed Shaikh `Adil Muhammad Akash; his wife Rabab Yasin, 39; and 10 of their children: Muhammad Baker, 18; Fatima, 17; Zainab, 13; `Ali Rida, 12; Ghadir, 10; Muhammad Hassan, 7; Sara, 5; Batul, 4; Nur al-Huda, 2; and Safa, two months. The familys Sri Lankan maid, whose name is unknown to Human Rights Watch, also died in the attack.
Human Rights Watch found no evidence of Hezbollah military activity during a visit to the bomb site, and Dweir residents also denied that there had been any Hezbollah military activity around the home. The village of Dweir is located too far from the Israeli border (40 kilometers) to serve as an effective launching pad for short or mid-range rockets.
The apparent targeting of Shaikh Akash exemplifies Israels targeting of individuals affiliated with Hezbollah regardless of whether they were participating in military hostilities. Should Israel have information otherwise, they should make it public, as well as information justifying an attack that caused so many civilian deaths. This attack on someone who was by all accounts a civilian cost the lives of thirteen civilians, nine of them children.
Killing of Six Civilians in Shhour, July 13
At approximately 4:00 a.m. on July 13, several missiles struck the home of German-Lebanese dual national Mustafa Khashab, a 43-year-old car dealer in Germany who had come to Lebanon on June 28 for his summer holiday in his native village. The strike demolished Khashabs home, and killed Khashab and five of his relatives: his wife Najwa `Ali al-Medani, 37; their daughter Yasmin, 14; a cousin, Sara Ahmad Yasin, 16; Mustaphas father, `Ali Amid, 73; and his sister, Khadija `Ali, 48. Mustafa Khashabs 12-year-old son Ahmad, who was in the bathroom at the time of the attack, was the only survivor and was transferred to Germany for critical medical treatment soon after.
According to his relatives, rescue workers, and village officials, Khashab had no links to Hezbollah, and there was no Hezbollah activity in or near his home prior to the attack.212 An aunt of Mustafa who had visited the home on the evening prior to the attack and left at about 11 p.m. did not notice any unusual activity.213
Khashab had left Lebanon at age 14 to seek a better life and had permanently settled in Germany. He had built a home in his native village and often returned for summer vacations. For the rest of the year, his parents occupied the house. Khashab and the relatives who died with him are buried as civilians, and there are no indications on their graves and no martyr posters to suggest membership in Hezbollah.
Israeli officials have offered no explanation for the attack on Mustafa Khashabs home. However, one possible reason for the attack is that Khashabs brother, Safi Khashab, is a higher-up member of Hezbollah in Beirut, according to two sources interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Shhour. The sources did not specify if Safi Khashab was active on the military or civilian side of Hezbollah.214 Although Safi Khashab normally resides in Beirut and does not keep a home in Shhour, he was visiting his brother in Shhour on July 12, and left the village that night. Mustafa also tried to leave Shhour to take his family to safety north of Tyre, but he was unable to make his way there because air strikes had destroyed the road.215 A relative told Human Rights Watch: They tried to leave together, but Mustafas car was too heavy so he couldnt cross [the river]. He decided to sleep here and then leave the next day. He was afraid that night, because of the noise from the drones and the fighter jets.216
The Israeli authorities should provide information as to why they believed the Khashab home was a valid military objective, including whether they believed Safi Khashab had a military role with Hezbollah, whether they believed him to be present at the time of the attack and what efforts were made to determine the extent of a civilian presence, and what calculation of expected military advantage and civilian harm led them to authorize the attack.
Killing of Two Civilians in Strike on Hezbollah Arms Storage Facility, Bar`ashit, July 13
On July 13, at around 4 a.m., an Israeli air strike on the village of Bar`ashit demolished the home of Najib Hussain Farhat, a lottery card seller, and the unoccupied neighboring home of his brother, who had moved to Beirut in 1996. The air strike killed Najib Hussain Farhat, 54, and his 16-year-old daughter, Zainab, and severely injured his wife, son, and daughter.
According to a well-informed source in the village, Hezbollah had rented the basement of the unoccupied home and had enlarged it into a warehouse to store large numbers of weapons. Neither Hezbollah nor Najibs relatives had informed Najib or his family about the Hezbollah weapons cache next door, so they had not felt the need to evacuate their home when war broke out. The surviving relatives complained to Hezbollah officials about this incident, and were met first with denials and then with threats from Hezbollah that it would withhold compensation to the family if they spoke out publicly:
By storing weapons in the village prior to the start of hostilities and not warning residents of the danger, Hezbollah violated the humanitarian law prohibition to avoid locating military objectives in densely populated areas.
Killing of 12 Civilians in Zebqine, July 13
At 8:20 a.m. on July 13, Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at the home of Na`im Bzeih, the late mayor of the village of Zebqine (who died in 2001), located some five kilometers north of the Israel-Lebanon border. At the time of the attack, 14 members of the Bzeih family had gathered in the house because it was an old stone house with a strong foundation and thick walls. Darwish, the 42-year-old son of the late mayor, was standing on a balcony when the attack took place, and recalled:
Twelve people died in the attack, including six women and five children: Fatima, 78, Na`ims wife; Taniya, 64, his sister; Maryam al-Hussaini, 54, his daughter-in-law; Su`ad Nasur, 39, Darwishs wife; Amal, 44, Na`ims daughter; Na`im Wail, 18, a grandson; Kholud, 18, a granddaughter; Farah, 14, a granddaughter; `Aziza, 11, a granddaughter; Malik and his twin Muhammad, 17, grandsons; and Hussain, 12, a grandson. All of them were buried as civilians, and Hezbollah has not claimed any of them as fighters or martyrs. It did claim three other men from the village, who died on separate occasions, as fighters.
The Bzeih family denied any links to Hezbollah. Darwish, who was wounded in the attack, said: My father died in 2001. He was the mukhtar for 35 years and never belonged to any political party. He had no links with Hezbollah. All of us are independent; we are not with Hezbollah. All of the villagers were surprised when our house was hit, because people know we are not Hezbollah.219 A respected human rights activist, who personally knew the late mayor and his family, independently told Human Rights Watch that the family had no links to Hezbollah.220
Darwish also confirmed there was no Hezbollah movement or activity around the house at the time of the attack: There were no Hezbollah people around the house or firing from anywhere. We were on the balcony and didnt see anything.221
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the Bzeih home. According to the Erlich report, Hezbollah fired two rockets from Zebqine houses during the war.222 However, Hezbollah had not yet begun launching large numbers of rockets at Israel when the attack on the Bzeih home took place, so it is unlikely that the Israeli strike was in response to Hezbollah rocket fire.
Killing of Two Civilians and One Hezbollah Fighter, Yatar, July 13
At 3 p.m. on July 13, an Israeli air strike demolished a home in Yatar, killing three persons inside. Among those killed was an active Hezbollah fighter, 21 year-old Muhammad `Ali Najib Suidan.223 In addition to Muhammad, the strike killed two civilians: his cousin `Ali Muhammad `Akil, 25, who was a Hezbollah supporter but not a fighter,224 and Muhammads mother, Arwa Jamil, 56.225 The civilians accepted the risk of attack by allowing their cousin, a combatant, into their home, and thus became collateral casualties during a legitimate military strike on a combatant.
Killing of Four Civilians, including US-Lebanese National, in a Building with an Empty Hezbollah-Rented Apartment, Bint Jbeil, July 15
At about 8:55 a.m. on July 15, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a three-story building in Bint Jbeil, a large town near Lebanons border with Israel. According to Jamal Sa`ad, a 45-year-old bus driver who lived next door to the building: We were inside our house, and the situation was pretty normal. I looked out and saw an Israeli drone in the sky. One second later, there was a huge explosion next door.226 The attack killed Khalil Ibrahim Mrouj, age 85, popularly known as Hajj Abu Naji,227 and his daughter, Najwa Khalil, 60.
According to Bint Jbeil villagers, neither of the victims had any links with Hezbollah: Hajj Abu Naji was not Hezbollah; he was an old man who didnt work anymore. The Hajj just lived in his house with his daughter.228 Both were buried as civilians in Bint Jbeil and are not claimed as martyrs by Hezbollah. However, a neighbor told Human Rights Watch that Hezbollah rented an apartment in the same three-story building, but it had been empty since the war had begun:
After the strike, the villagers searched all over the village for the two missing people, before realizing they had been inside the collapsed three-story building. They then mounted a rescue effort: There were fears that the place would be attacked again, but people started the rescue effort and it grew bigger.230
While villagers were attempting to dig the bodies out of the rubble, an Israeli drone fired a missile at the rescue party, killing two rescuers: Bilal Hreish, 31, a US-Lebanese dual national, and Mahmud Muhammad al-Sa`id Ahmad, 28. Both were members of Hezbollahs unofficial civil defense (which is distinct and operates separately from the Lebanese governments civil defense organization) and properly wore civilian clothes.231 The drone strike wounded many others, including two of Hajj Mroujs sons and a 16-year-old boy, Hashim Kazan, who told Human Rights Watch how he was wounded in the second attack:
Following the deadly attack, the rescue effort was abandoned and the bodies were recovered only at the end of the war, on August 16.
Hezbollahs rental of building space did not transform the apartment building into a military objective. Even if Hezbollah were occupying the building at the time, it still would have been necessary for the IDF to determine whether it was being used for military purposes. By apparently basing their attack on dated intelligence information, Israel failed to take all necessary precautions to determine whether this civilian object was a valid military target at the time of attack. Even if the Hezbollah apartment was a legitimate target (for example, by serving a military role) Israel also should have taken into account the likely civilian casualties of attacking the apartment building in determining whether the military gain of attacking the Hezbollah office outweighed the civilian harm.
The drone attack on the rescue party, involving several bulldozers operating in broad daylight to remove the rubble, appears to have been a deliberate attack on civilians. Israeli drones, some of which have the ability to transmit live video footage back to their operators, should have made it possible for the operators to see the rescue party.
Killing of Two Civilians, Houla, July 15
On July 15, around 8 p.m., an Israeli Apache helicopter fired two missiles into the home of Ibrahim Slim,233 a wage laborer, in the village of Houla, located on the Israel-Lebanon border, about 25 kilometers east of Tyre. According to Slim, the situation in Houla was relatively calm at the time, with cars and people out on the street. His son `Ali, a 30-year-old van driver, had returned from visiting a friend with his motorcycle just 10 minutes before the attack, and the family of 14 was just sitting down to dinner when the missiles struck.234 The helicopters had been circling over the area for about an hour prior to launching the missiles.
The attack by guided missiles destroyed most of the home, as the missiles entered through the front door and exploded inside. The attack killed two young women: Salma Slim, 23; and Ibrahims daughter-in-law Zainab Hassan Fakih, 22, the mother of a 7-month-old girl. It also injured two people: `Ali Slim, the 30-year-old van driver, and his brother in law `Ali Sa`ad, age unknown.
Ibrahim told Human Rights Watch that neither he nor his sons were involved with Hezbollah: I dont know why my home was attacked. I am not with Hezbollah, and my sons are not involved with them. Ive always prohibited my sons from being involved with Hezbollah or the resistance.235 Other villagers, interviewed separately by Human Rights Watch, also denied that anyone in the family had links to Hezbollah. Neither he nor his children were involved with Hezbollah, nor was there any [Hezbollah] resistance in the town at the time, said his neighbor, `Ali Rizak.236 Human Rights Watch saw no Hezbollah symbols inside the remnants of the Slim home during a visit. Both women who died in the attack were buried as civilians.
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the Slim home. According to the Erlich report, Hezbollah fired two rockets from within Houla houses during the war, on an unspecified date.237 However, there is no evidence that the Slim home was one of these houses.
Killing of Three Hezbollah Fighters, Yatar, July 16
At 5 p.m. on July 16, an IDF air strike demolished a civilian home in the village of Yatar, located some four kilometers north of the Israeli border. The air strike killed three Hezbollah fighters: Hassan `Ali Karim, 22; Hussain `Ali Qurani, 21; and Muhammad Hussain Ja`far, 23. The graves of the three men clearly identified them as Hezbollah martyrs, not civilians. Hezbollah representatives attempted to prevent Human Rights Watch from investigating the deaths, but a relative of one of the men killed told Human Rights Watch that the men had stored a Hezbollah rocket launcher inside the home when they were attacked:
Although the use of a civilian home to store a rocket launcher places civilians at risk by making it more likely that the IDF will attack ostensible civilian structures thinking that they are serving a military purpose, the Hezbollah fighters in this particular case were staying in a home without a civilian presence, and civilians had largely abandoned the neighborhood. The area was empty,according to the deputy mayor, a leftist independent unaffiliated with Hezbollah.239 The Israeli strike targeting three Hezbollah fighters who were actively engaged in firing rockets was a legitimate military strike.
Killing of Eight Civilians in Tyre (Sidon Institute), July 16
Between 12 and 1 p.m. on July 16, Israeli air strikes hit a residential apartment building at the outskirts of Tyre and an adjoining house owned by Marwan Hussain Shahin, a Palestinian who operated a butcher shop near the Bass refugee camp. The building (which people often refer to as the Sidon Institute because it used to house the educational facility) and house were located next to banana groves behind the Jabal `Amel hospital.
One of the residents of the building was Yasir `Alawiya, an accountant who used to work at the Hezbollah-affiliated Islamic Institution for Education and Learning (al-Muassasa al-Islamiyya lil-Tarbiyya Wal-Ta`lim), and at the time of the attack worked for al-Qard al-Hassan, an Islamic bank linked to Hezbollah. There is no evidence that Yasir Alawiya took part in Hezbollahs military activities. His prior affiliation with a Hezbollah-affiliated organization, or his employment at an Islamic bank, even if Hezbollah-linked, did not make him a legitimate military target.
Eight members of the `Alawiya family died in the attack on the apartment building.Yasir Alawiya lost his wife, Marwa al-Hajj Hassan, 26, and his two children, Batul, 5, and `Abbas, 4. Yasirs brother, `Ali, also lost his wife and three children as they had sought shelter in Yasirs apartment: Husn Jaffal, 26, Zainab 9, Hussain, 8, and Aya, 5.240 Yasir and `Alis mother, Maryam Ibrahim, 80, also died in the attack. The Shahin home adjacent to the building was empty, as its inhabitants had left it the previous night after the banana groves next to their house had come under attack.241
A neighbor of the `Alawiya family said that there was no Hezbollah presence in the building.242 Human Rights Watchs investigation on the use of the groves behind the hospital could not conclusively establish whether Hezbollah had used those specific banana groves to fire rockets, although the fact that these same banana groves had come under Israeli attack the night prior to the attack on the Sidon Institute may suggest that Hezbollah rocket fire had originated from there. Another possibility is that the target was the microfinance institution affiliated with Hezbollah, al-Qard al-Hassan, located in a neighboring building.243
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the building and home.
Killing of 14 Civilians in Tyre, July 16
Between 5 and 6 p.m. on July 16, two Israeli air strikes hit a residential apartment building that housed the Lebanese governments civil defense offices in Tyre (unaffiliated with Hezbollah) on its first floor, collapsing the top four floors of the building.244 The apartment of Sayyid `Ali al-Amin, the Shi`a mufti of the Tyre and Jabal `Amel regions, and the offices of former member of parliament, Muhammad `Abd al-Hamid Baydun, were also in the building. Neither al-Amin nor Baydun is affiliated with Hezbollahal-Amin is a frequent and outspoken critic of Hezbollahnor were they present in the building at the time of the attack.
Human Rights Watch is not aware of any potential military target in the building, and Israeli officials have given no explanation for the attack. The building did have a number of large communication antennas on its roof, which may have been the target of the attack. The strikes also damaged three neighboring apartment buildings, eight to 10 stories high.
A report compiled by the IDF-affiliated Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center mistakenly identifies the civil defense force offices in the building as the Hezbollah headquarters in Tyre, but offers no evidence to support that assertion. The misidentification of this building in the report, which is almost exclusively based on a review of Israeli intelligence, may have formed the basis for the attacks and demonstrates the failure of the IDF to take adequate precautions to ensure the attack was on a valid military target.
In Lebanon, civil defense (which are affiliated with the Lebanese state, not with Hezbollah) mostly carry out activities such as firefighting and providing medical and humanitarian assistance during crises. Human Rights Watch found no evidence that Lebanese civil defense took part in hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel, or that Hezbollah fighters were in the building or storing military equipment there.
According to two residents of the apartment building interviewed by Human Rights Watch, the building residents were mostly teachers and doctors from the nearby hospital.245 A building resident and the director-general of the civil defense both told Human Rights Watch that Hezbollah had no presence in the buildings attacked.246
Zakaria `Alamadin, 18, had just left the basement of the apartment building when an Israeli missile hit the building, wounding him. Everything just went dark and things were falling on me, he said.247 Among those killed in the basement of the building were Zakarias father, Muhammad Hussain, a 55-year-old teacher, and Zakarias 15-year-old brother, `Ali Muhammad.
Muhammad Alamadin, his son `Ali, and seven others killed as a result of the attack were transferred to Tyre public hospital where they were temporarily buried during a public ceremony on July 21. The names of the other seven buried were: Najib Shamsuddin, `Ali Shamsuddin, Haitam Hassan Muzyid, 34, Hussain Hassan Muzyid, 38, `Alia Wehbi, 40, Sally Wehbi, and Ayman Daher.248 A tenth victim, one-year-old Lin `Ali Safeedin, was taken to a Saida hospital and then buried in her home village of Sham`a.249
A civil defense official in Tyre told Human Rights Watch on August 1 that two bodies remained trapped in the rubble of the collapsed top floors of the building, including the body of an unidentified woman.250 When Human Rights Watch visited the civil defense building that day, the smell of decomposing bodies remained.251 Following the end of the war, four more victims were identified, for a total of 14 persons killed: Muhammad Yusif Ibrahim, 58; Ibrahim Saksouk, age unknown; Zainab Fakhury, 66; and Kundbsejen Runjani, a Sri Lankan maid.
Ten staff members of the Lebanese civil defense and 25 volunteers were inside the civil defense offices at the time of the attack.252 According to a civil defense official in Tyre, the attack injured eight members of the civil defense team, including the head of the civil defense center, `Abbas Ghorayeb, who was hospitalized in critical condition but has since recovered.253
Speaking after his recovery to Human Rights Watch, `Abbas Ghorayeb explained that dozens of families from neighboring villages had sought shelter in the basement of the civil defense building, believing that it would be safe from attack. Because Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was speaking on television at the time of the attack, many families had gone inside to listen to his speech, which probably reduced the death toll of the attack.
The civil defense officials were busy organizing a recovery effort following an earlier air strike at the Sidon Institute (see prior case) when two missiles struck their building, one on top and another on the side at street level. Following the strike, falling rubble caused additional casualties and fatalities, covering the area surrounding the building in rubble up to one meter deep. Like the other witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Ghorayeb told Human Rights Watch that there was no Hezbollah presence in the building: There was nothing in relation to Hezbollah there.254
Another witness, a twenty-year-veteran of the civil defense unit, gave a more detailed overview of the civilian nature of the building and the lack of any military target inside the building in a separate interview with Human Rights Watch:
Civil defense organizations play a key role in the protection of the civilian population. International humanitarian law provides that they and their personnel must be respected and protected.256 The same protections apply to civilians in the course of responding to appeals from the authorities to perform civil defense functions, even though they are not formal members of civilian civil defense organizations. Objects used for civil defense purposes may not be destroyed or diverted from their proper use. The protection to which civil defense organizations and personnel are entitled shall not cease unless they commit, outside of their proper tasks, acts harmful to the enemy.257
Because there is no evidence that the Lebanese civil defense committed any acts harmful to the enemy,258 or that hostile acts had taken place from their installations, the attack on the civil defense building and its personnel constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law. The building was marked with a sign outside indicating that the civil defense had its offices there. A high-ranking civil defense official told Human Rights Watch that the building was not marked on the roof with the internationally recognized distinctive sign for civil defense, an equilateral blue triangle on an orange background.259
The IDF has stated that it targeted the headquarters of the [Hezbollah] organization in Tyre. 260 This assertion is contradicted by witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch and field visits by Human Rights Watch researchers.
Killing of 12 Civilians, including Seven Canadian-Lebanese Dual Nationals, in `Aitaroun, July 16
At 5:50 p.m. on July 16, an Israeli warplane fired missiles into two homes in `Aitaroun, located just one kilometer north of the Israel-Lebanon border, killing 12 members of the al-Akhrass family. Among the dead were seven Canadian-Lebanese dual nationals who were residents of Montreal, but had arrived in their ancestral village of `Aitaroun for their summer holiday just 12 days before the Israeli offensive began.261 A woman who lived 300 meters away from the al-Akhrass homes described the attack to Human Rights Watch:
Twelve people died in the attack: `Ali Hassan al-Akhrass, 36, who worked as a pharmacist in Montreal; his wife Amira, 24; and their four children Saya, 7, Zainab, 6, Ahmad, 3, and Salam, 1; and another woman, Haniya al-Akhrass, 55, all Canadian-Lebanese dual nationals. Also killed were four elderly relatives and a young woman, who were all residents of `Aitaroun: Fuda al-Akhrass, 63; `Ali Ahmad al-Akhrass, 65; Muhammad al-Akhrass, 86; Hassan al-Akhrass, 85; and Manal Rislan, 17.263 All were buried as civilians, and Hezbollah did not claim any of the al-Akhrass dead as fighters or martyrs. Two seriously wounded members of the al-Akhrass family were taken to Canada for medical treatment: Fatima al-Akhrass, 58, lost an eye in the attack, and Ahmad Hassan al-Akhrass, 30, suffered severe burns on his body.
Survivors of the al-Akhrass family said that no one in the family had any links to Hezbollah, and that there were no Hezbollah members or weapons in the vicinity of the house at the time of attack. A family member explained:
Three villagers interviewed separately by Human Rights Watch also said that the al-Akhrass family had no connection to Hezbollah. They also denied that Hezbollah was active in the vicinity of the house or inside the village at the time of the attack. There was no presence of the [Hezbollah] resistance inside the village, one witness said, The positions of the resistance are around the village, not inside the village.265 A second witness told Human Rights Watch: I dont know why their house was targeted, because there was no resistance there.266 A third villager explained that while `Aitaroun was right on the frontlines, Hezbollah was not firing from within the village itself at the time of the attack.267
`Aitaroun villagers interviewed after the war told Human Rights Watch that on the night of the attack on the al-Akhrass home, Hezbollah was firing only from the outskirts of `Aitaroun. According to these witnesses, Hezbollah did not begin firing from inside the village until around 10:15 p.m. on July 17 (see case below), a day after the attack on the al-Akhrass home.268
According to the Erlich report, Hezbollah fired 18 rockets from within `Aitaroun houses during the war.269 However, there is no evidence that the al-Akhrass home was one of these houses.
The Israeli government expressed its regret over the deaths and said that Israel was fighting Hizbullah and attacking its targets, and was being as careful as possible not to hurt innocent civilians.270
Killing of Nine Civilians in `Aitaroun following Hezbollah Rocket Fire, July 18
On July 18, at 12:45 a.m., an Israeli air strike hit two homes in the center of `Aitaroun, killing nine members of the `Awada family.271 According to surviving members of the family, Hezbollah fighters had been firing rockets at Israel from approximately 100 to 150 meters away from their home a few hours earlier, at around 10:15 p.m. Some of the members of the `Awada family had already abandoned another home on the outskirts of `Aitaroun, because Hezbollah had been firing rockets from nearby that home:
We were sleeping; it was about 12:45 at night. Some were in the shelter, but we were in our home, said Manal Hassan `Alawiyya, a neighbor Suddenly we heard a plane flying low. The plane dropped a bomb, and all the windows in our house were blown out. My fiancé took me down to the shelter, and he went to help the people at the house.273
Nine members of the `Awada family were killed in the strike: Hassan Mahmud, age 43, a shoemaker and clothes shop owner; his son Hussain, three; his sister Jamila, 45; his sisters husband, Musa, 45, a schoolteacher; and their five children `Ali, 17; `Abir, 16; Hassan, 12; Maryam, 10; and Muhammad, six. Thirteen other occupants of the home survived the strike, including six children and five women. None of the people in the house had any connection to Hezbollah.
According to the `Awada family, most of the civilians fled `Aitaroun after Hezbollah began to fire rockets from inside the village and the deadly Israeli air strike on their home: When our house was hit, almost all of the civilians left the village. Hezbollah continued to fire rockets from inside the village.274
Killing of Three Civilians in Tallousa, July 18
At about 9 a.m. on July 18, Israeli war planes attacked the home of the mukhtar of Tallousa, a village located some 20 kilometers east of Tyre.275 The strike surprised the family while they were about to sit down for breakfast, and partially destroyed the home. The attack killed three persons: the mother of the mukhtar, Bahiyya Sulaiman Turmus, 80; `Ali Nabil Turmus, 20, who suffered from a serious birth defect and was unable to walk or work; and Basil `Imad Turmus, seven, a Brazilian-Lebanese dual national who was on summer vacation in the village when the war broke out.276 All three are buried in the village as civilians, and Hezbollah has not claimed them as martyrs.
Although the family and the villagers all claim that the mukhtar and his family had no connections to Hezbollah, further Human Rights Watch research puts this claim in doubt. According to a witness interviewed by Human Rights Watch, the mukhtars son, `Adil, previously had been a Hezbollah combatant, was captured by Israel, and was part of a prisoner exchange between Hezbollah and Israel prior to the war. `Adil had learned Hebrew in Israeli prison and began working for Hezbollahs al-Manar television after his release. However, `Adil was not in the village at the time of the attack, and there does not appear to have been a Hezbollah presence inside the home at the time of the attack.277 In any event, even if `Adil had been present in the village, he would not necessarily have been a legitimate military target, as there is no evidence that he was taking direct part in the hostilities or was an active member of the Hezbollah militia.
Killing of One Civilian, Yatar, July 18
At about 4 p.m. on July 17, Israeli warplanes bombed and destroyed eight homes in the village of Yatar. Seven of the homes were empty at the time of the attack, but in the eighth home, the air strike killed Hussain Slim, a 26-year-old severely handicapped man who was bedridden and unable to sit, walk, or talk. His mother Munira Salih, 55, a widow, had just left the home 10 minutes before the strike and returned to find her home destroyed and her handicapped son buried under the rubble, where his remains would not be recovered until two days after the war. According to Munira, only she and her son remained in the neighborhood; the other houses in the area had been vacated since the beginning of the war. She had not seen any Hezbollah fighters or weapons in the area of the home, which is in a different neighborhood than the one where Israel killed three Hezbollah members in an air strike (see above).278 Hussain is buried as a civilian, and Hezbollah has not claimed him as a martyr.
Killing of Eight Civilians, Sil`a, July 19
At about 2 a.m. on the morning of July 19, Israeli warplanes carried out a number of bombing raids on the village of Sil`a, destroying many homes. Zainab Ayyoub, 69, a relative who lived in one of the homes attacked in the raid, related what had happened to Human Rights Watch:
Eight people died in the strikes. Five died in the home of Mustafa Ayyoub, age 69, a farmer: Mustafa himself, his wife `Aliye, 57, his sister Zainab, 50, her husband, Mustafa Na`im, 60, and a neighbor, Deeb Na`im, 65. Three died in the home of Nizam Ayyoub, 25, a car mechanic: Nizam himself, his wife Jamile, 20, and their son Ahmad, age one.
According to the villagers, none had any relations with Hezbollah. According to Zainab Ayyoub, who survived the attack: Nizam was not involved with the resistance. I swear to God, none had any relationship with the resistance. The old people also had nothing to do with the resistance.280 All eight victims were buried as civilians, and none has been claimed by Hezbollah as a martyr. According to the four villagers interviewed by Human Rights Watch, there was no Hezbollah presence in the village at the time of the attack.281
Killing of 17 Militants and Five Civilians, Srifa, July 19
Around 3:30 a.m. on July 19, at least three Israeli warplanes struck at least 13 homes in the Moscow neighborhood of Srifa, firing multiple missiles and collapsing the homes. At 3:30 a.m., the attacks started, said Qassim Mustafa Nazal, a resident. We suddenly heard bombs, one hit, then two hits at the same time, overall between 12 to 16 rockets hit the Moscow neighborhood.282
Rescue workers were unable to reach the village and recover the bodies during the war, and continuing strikes by Israeli warplanes and helicopters prevented the local villagers from recovering the bodies themselves. During the war, Human Rights Watch researchers separately interviewed six Srifa residents and briefly visited the site of the strikes on July 31, during the two-day interim ceasefire. During that visit, while shellfire continued around the village, we found no evidence of Hezbollah activity or weapons in the area. The villagers we interviewed all stated that those killed in the attack were civilians, not Hezbollah fighters, and that the neighborhood that had been hit was not a Hezbollah neighborhood. The only visible body under the wreckage, that of an elderly woman, seemed to confirm their testimony. After this preliminary investigation, Human Rights Watch reported in Fatal Strikes that an estimated 26 civilians had been killed in Srifa. This allegation turned out to be wrong.283
When Human Rights Watch returned to Srifa after the war, on September 18, 2006, the relatives of the dead immediately stated that the majority of those who had been killed were armed local militants from Hezbollah, Amal, and the Lebanese Communist Party, who had been preparing to resist an incursion by Israeli forces into the village.
Among the homes hit were three separate homes in which Hezbollah, Amal, and Lebanese Communist Party fighters were living. The strike on the home where the Amal fighters were living killed two civilians, Kamal Diab Jaber, 53 (the owner of the house) and his mother Manahil Najdi, 80, and six armed Amal militants: Kamals three sons Mahmud, 33, `Ali, 30, and Ahmad, 27, as well as Bilal Hamudi, 27, `Ali Za`rour, 30, and `Ali Nazel, 28. At the Hezbollah house, the strike killed four Hezbollah militants (no civilians were present in this house): Hisham Hamudi, 26-28, Wasim Najdi, 28, `Imad Jaber, 27, and `Ali Najdi, 26. Two Hezbollah militants survived the air strike, but an Israeli drone-fired missile later killed them as they attempted to flee the scene of the attack: Fadi Kamaluddin, 29, and Muhammad Kamaluddin, 20. At the house of the Lebanese Communist Party fighters, four armed Communist Party militants died, together with four unarmed persons. The armed Communist Party militants were Ahmad Najdi, 37, Muhammad Najdi, 27, `Ali Najdi, 27, and Hassan Krayim, 24. The unarmed persons in the same house were `Abbas Amin Dakrub, 20, `Abbas Mahmud Dakrub, 25, `Ali Haidar, 20, and `Ali Hassan Sabra, 17. The Communist Party has claimed only the four armed party members as martyrs, suggesting the other four persons who died in the home were civilians.284
Human Rights Watch regrets the serious inaccuracy in its initial Fatal Strikes report, concluding that those killed in Srifa were civilians, not fighters. In researching this report we have sought to safeguard against such errors by reinvestigating all of the cases described in Fatal Strikes and seeking out additional sources and types of evidence. We have sought to corroborate all witness testimonies with extensive site inspections and visits to graveyards to establish whether victims were civilians or combatants, and an exhaustive media search to check for any inconsistencies. The militants killed in Srifa were buried as military martyrs, not civilians.
Killing of Seven Civilians, Nabi Sheet (Beka` Valley), July 19
At 7:10 a.m. on July 19, an Israeli war plane fired a missile at a two-story building in the village of Nabi Sheet, demolishing the building and killing seven civilians gathered inside. The only survivor of the attack, 21-year-old Bushra Shukr, told Human Rights Watch that her family and their neighbors had been sleeping at the time of the attack: I was still sleeping at the time. I woke up in the intensive care unit of the hospital with wounds to my stomach and legs.285
Those killed in the attack were all civilians: Bushras mother, Khadija Musawi, 43, and her children Muhammad Hussain Shukr, 23, a law student at Zahle University; Bilal Hussain Shukr, 20, an accountant at a technical college; Talal Hussain Shukr, 18, and Yasin Hussain Shukr, 16, students. Also killed were two neighbors: `Ali Sulaiman Shukr, in his 40s, a carpet salesman, and his wife Hala Shoucair.
All of the victims were buried as civilians, and Hezbollah has not claimed any as fighters or martyrs. Bushras father lives in Canada and was not in Lebanon during the summer. According to the surviving sister, None of my brothers were in Hezbollah None of the apartments [in the building] had any Hezbollah people.286 She was not aware of any weapons in any of the other apartments.
A pro-Hezbollah businessman in Nabi Sheet told Human Rights Watch that the family had no relationship to Hezbollah: Everyone in Nabi Sheet is with Hezbollah in principle. But none of the people killed had any active role in Hezbollah, not on the military side or on the political side.287
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the Shukr home. Bushras uncle, Bilal Shukr, was a Hezbollah fighter but he died in the mid-1980s fighting in southern Lebanon.288 Khadija Musawi was also a close relative of Abbas al-Musawi, the Hezbollah secretary-general assassinated by Israel in February 1992, but she herself had no role in Hezbollah.
Killing of Four Civilians, `Ainata, July 19
On July 19, taxi driver Musa Darwish and two relatives drove some villagers to safety in Tyre, returning with a load of bread for the remaining villagers of `Ainata. They returned to `Ainata around 11:30 a.m. and distributed the bread among the villagers, before returning home shortly after noon to watch television.289 About 15 minutes after the men returned home, an Israeli warplane attacked, first firing a missile into a nearby olive grove and then firing a missile directly at the home, demolishing the structure. Four family members were killed: the taxi driver Musa Darwish, 42; his daughter Amal, 16; her cousin Zeynab, 16; and another cousin Salwa Samih Dakrub, 21. Three other family members were wounded. All of the dead were buried as civilians, and Hezbollah has not claimed any of the dead as fighters or martyrs.
According to the surviving relatives, Musa Darwish and the others at his house had no links to Hezbollahthey were political supporters of the Amal partyand were not involved in any militant activity. He was a driver and used to drive people away from the village, and when he came back he used to bring food for us and other villagers, his niece recalled. She was adamant that there had been no firing of rockets from near their home: The fighters were not firing from near here Our families would never accept Hezbollah firing rockets from near our homes.290 Musas brother, `Ali, who was in a house next to the one where Musa died, recalled that before firing its missiles, the airplane did a low flyover. We thought it was going to hit Hezbollah posts on the hills [outside the village], but the plane turned and came back and hit the house.291 The homes are isolated on the outskirts of the village, and there are no neighbors nearby that could have been the target of the attack. `Ali also denied seeing any Hezbollah fighters around the houses.292 It appears that Israeli forces targeted the homes because of the movement of Musas taxi in the area.
Killing of Three Civilians, Debbine Marja`youn, July 19
At 7 p.m. on July 19, an Israeli Apache helicopter fired three missiles into the home of Dawood Khaled, 40, in Debbine Marja`youn, located on the outskirts of the southern town of Marja`youn. At the time of the attack, Dawood was on the roof of his house connecting an electrical wire to his neighbors generator, while his six children, whose ages were between 14 and one, were inside the house.293 The helicopter missiles killed Dawood Khaled, 40; his daughter `Abla, nine, and his son Ahmad, age one. His daughters Huda, 13, and Huweida, eight, were gravely injured and remained hospitalized when Human Rights Watch visited the family three-and-a-half months after the attack. All of the dead are buried as civilians.
According to Dawoods widow, Hamida Khaled, who was uninjured in the attack because she was feeding the familys cows at the time, the family was not affiliated with Hezbollah or Amal, and there was no Hezbollah missile firing taking place from near the home, which is located on the outskirts of the village. She speculates that the Apache helicopter may have attacked because it spotted her husband on the roof of the house.294 Dawoods sister, in a separate interview, also told Human Rights Watch that her brother was a farmer who was not involved with Hezbollah, and that Hezbollah was active outside but not inside the village. She told Human Rights Watch that, to her knowledge, there was no Hezbollah military activity near her brothers home.295
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the Khaled home. According to the Erlich report, a number of rockets were fired from houses in Debbine Marja`youn during the war.296 However, there is no evidence that the Khaled home was used for that purpose, or that rockets were fired close to the house.
Killing of One Civilian, `Aita al-Sha`ab, July 20
At about 6 a.m. on July 20, an Israeli Apache helicopter fired two missiles at a civilian shelter in the village of `Aita al-Sha`ab, located on the Lebanon-Israel border. According to Nehme Rida, 50, 24 civilians were living in the shelter at the time of the attack, all of them civilians. Nehme admitted that his son Muhammad Rida, 24, a Hezbollah fighter who died during the war, used to visit his relatives every two or three days at the shelter. He said that his son was not present at the shelter on the day of the attack.297
According to Nehme, he and his brother, Hassan, 58, had woken up at sunrise to pray and read the Koran, and were sitting just outside the shelter when the attack occurred:
Hassan was buried as a civilian, and Hezbollah has not claimed him as a fighter or a martyr. The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the Rida home.
Killing of Three Civilians, `Aita al-Sha`ab, July 21
At about 2 p.m., an Israeli airplane fired a missile at the home of Rida Rida, an elderly villager in his seventies, demolishing the home and killing all three persons inside. The family had stayed in `Aita al-Sha`ab because Zahra Rida, Ridas wife who was also in her seventies, was bedridden and could not easily be moved from the home. The Israeli air strike killed Rida, his wife Zahra, and their son Ahmad, who was in his forties. According to a neighbor who was in `Aita al-Sha`ab at the time of the attack but did not witness the strike, Rida had no sons in the resistance, and there was no one else staying at his house.300 `Aita al-Sha`ab is the Lebanese border village closest to the site of the July 12 Hezbollah attack and abduction of two IDF soldiers that sparked the war. During the war, the IDF heavily bombarded `Aita al-Sha`ab, which also saw some of the most intense urban combat between IDF ground forces and Hezbollah fighters. As we were unable to locate a surviving witness who was in the vicinity of the home at the time of the air strike, Human Rights Watch was unable to ascertain whether Hezbollah forces were fighting in the vicinity of the home. We can only state with certainty that the three casualties of the attack were buried as civilians, and that no Hezbollah combatants died alongside them.
Killing of Two Hezbollah Fighters and One Elderly Woman, Zebqine, July 21
On July 21, an Israeli air strike killed the Hezbollah commander for Zebqine, Ahmad Bzeih, and his cousin `Adnan Bzeih, also a Hezbollah fighter, while they were checking on 80-year-old Khayriyye Kamil Bzeih at her home. The elderly woman was also killed in the attack.301 Hezbollah combatants are legitimate targets for a military strike, even when there is no ground combat taking place at the time of the strike, as was the case in Zebqine. Even if the Hezbollah fighters had a strictly humanitarian motive in visiting Khariyye Bzeih, they endangered the elderly woman by co-mingling with her as combatants.
Killing of One Civilian in Nabi Sheet, July 23
At about 5:30 a.m. on July 23, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at the home of Dr. Fayez Shukr in Nabi Sheet, in what appears to have been an attempt to assassinate Shukr. Dr. Fayez Shukr is a leading member of the Lebanese Ba`ath Party, which is politically allied with Hezbollah, and was a Minister of State in 1995-1996.302 However, there is no evidence that Shukr took part in hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, meaning that he was not a legitimate military target. The attack also destroyed the house next to the Shukr home, and the village hussainiyya [a Shi`a religious building] was damaged. These two structures were empty at the time of the attack.
Dr. Shukr was not at home at the time of the attack, having left his home the night before to return to his office in Beirut. The massive explosion demolished the home, fatally wounding his father, Shehab Fayez Shukr, 71, who died from his wounds soon after being pulled from the rubble. The elderly man was not politically active.303
Killing of Two Civilians, Shehin, July 23
At about 11 a.m. on July 23, an Israeli air strike destroyed the empty summer home of `Ali `Awada in the village of Shehin, located just south of the Israel-Lebanon border, close to Marwahin. No one was killed in the `Awada home, but the powerful explosion killed two women sitting across the road: Munira Ghaith, 57, and her daughter Raja, 29, a local schoolteacher.304 Muhammad Ghaith, 65, Muniras husband, who works as a farmer, was seriously wounded in the attack.
According to his neighbors, `Ali `Awada, a father of seven, works as a hotel concierge in Beirut, has no links to Hezbollah, and did not rent out his summer house to anyone.305 According to the same neighbor, there was no resistance in the neighborhood, and [the victims] had nothing to do with Hezbollah.306 The neighbor also told Human Rights Watch that he never saw any weapons being transported to `Awadas house.307 The two women were buried as civilians.
Killing of Five Civilians in Yaroun, July 23
At 4:15 p.m. on Sunday July 23, an Israeli air strike hit the home of 75-year-old Farhat Farhat in the village of Yaroun, located two kilometers north of the Israel-Lebanon border, completely destroying Farhats home and five adjacent, empty homes. The air strike killed all five persons in Farhats home: Farhat, 75; his wife Badiya Sa`ab, 70; their daughter-in-law Zainab Khanafer, 43, and Zainabs two children, Zahra, age five, and Dana, six months old. All of the victims were buried as civilians in Yaroun.308
According to Farhats neighbor Rashad Ja`far, who was at home and had 45 civilians sheltering in his home at the time of the attack, there was no Hezbollah military activity connected with the Farhat house:
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the Farhat home.
Killing of 11 Civilians in al-Hallousiye, July 24
At about 5:45 a.m. on July 24, Israeli warplanes mounted a massive strike on a series of homes in the center of al-Hallousiye village, located some 10 kilometers northeast of the coastal city of Tyre. The warplanes carried out several bombing raids on the targeted neighborhood, destroying between seven and 10 buildings, including a three-story building, and killing 11 civilians.
According to several survivors interviewed by Human Rights Watch, hundreds of civilians from al-Hallousiye had fled to the neighborhood in the belief that it was safer, abandoning their homes on the outskirts of the villages because of Israeli shelling and bombing raids around the village. Muhammad Muanis, a 36-year-old farmer who lost his 12-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter in the attack, explained to Human Rights Watch: We thought it would be safer there, because the Israelis were attacking the homes on the outskirts of the village. At the center of the village, we had some 250 people, many of them childrenall of the houses were full with people.310 Although they considered the center of the village to be safer, not everyone believed that the center of the village would not be struck. Some of the families even decided to split up between different houses, according to the village shaikh, who lost his wife and four children in the attack: We were expecting the Israelis to hit the civilians, so we decided to split up the families, so if the attack occurred in one place, some of the families would survive.311
The Israeli air strike first hit a home with 18 civilians inside, killing two persons and wounding the 16 survivors. When the Israeli warplanes returned for additional bombing raids minutes later, they demolished a large three-story building where some 45 civilians had gathered, believing that the large building would survive even in case of an attack. Nine civilians were killed when the three-story building was attacked. Out of the 11 dead in the two raids, five were children, five were women, and the only man was 69 years old. The victims, all buried as civilians, were Maryam Hamid, age 45, the wife of the village shaikh, and her four children: Zainab, 22, `Ali, 13, `Abbas, nine, and Khadija, six; Khalthoum Hajali, 86, her daughter Nahiya Muanis, 65, and her granddaughter Ibtisam Hamid, 45; Muhammad Muanis, 12, and his sister `Atika Muanis, 9; and Anise Saloum, 69. None of the dead were claimed as martyrs or fighters by Hezbollah.312
The villagers all said that there was no Hezbollah presence in the attacked neighborhood, located at the center of the village. Muhammad Muanis, who lost two children in the attack, told Human Rights Watch: There were no Hezbollah fighters there with us. You can talk to anyone in our village; there were no fighters with us.313 Shaikh Muhammad Hamid, the village spiritual leader who is not affiliated with Hezbollah and lost his wife and four children in the attack, was equally adamant: Not a single resistance [Hezbollah] fighter was in the village; they were all outside the village . The resistance fires from outside the village, not from inside the village. There were no fighters in those homes, or around the homes. Hezbollah and Amal are from the people, but there were no military centers or any fighters in that area . These are our homes, and we want to protect them.314 The Erlich report, which reviewed intelligence data that radar-tracked rocket launchers in southern Lebanon, does not mention rockets fired from within the village of al-Hallousiye, or any other Hezbollah-related activity.315
Killing of Four Hezbollah Fighters and Eight Civilians in Two Separate Strikes, Haris, July 24
At about 5 p.m., two air strikes 10 minutes apart targeted two homes located 100 meters apart on the same street in the village of Haris. The first strike hit a home where four Hezbollah fighters were having a meeting, killing all of them. The second strike 10 minutes later demolished a home with only civilians inside, killing all eight members of a family.
The first strike apparently hit a home where four members of a Hezbollah fighting unit were meeting, killing the commander of the unit, Musa Zalghut Bakr, 40, and three fighters in the unit: Shadi Muhammad al-Rez Malak, 21, Muhammad Ahmad Rizaq Hadi, 25, and Muhammad Wafiq Daqiq Sajid, 19. All four are buried in Haris as Hezbollah fighters.316 There were no civilians inside the home used by the Hezbollah militants.
Ten minutes later, the Israeli warplane carried out a second strike on a home just 100 meters down the street from the home of the Hezbollah fighters. The second home attacked was occupied solely by civilians, and eight civilians were killed: Khalil Jawad, 77; his wife Zainab Jawad, 63; his daughter Rawa Jawad, 33; his daughter-in-law Nazmiye Yahya, 50, and her four children Ahmad, 26, Mahmud, 20, `Akil, 18, and Batul, 16. All of the victims of the second strike were buried as civilians, and none have been claimed by Hezbollah as fighters or martyrs. According to the villagers, there was no Hezbollah military presence in the second house targeted.317 The Hezbollah military presence in the populated neighborhood endangered the civilians in the area, in violation of the legal duty to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians the hazards of war. However, the presence of armed Hezbollah militants in a civilian neighborhood did not absolve Israel of the duty to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and to target only the former.
Killing of 15 Civilians and Two Wounded Hezbollah Fighters, `Ainata, July 24
At about noon on July 24, an Israeli air strike demolished a home at the center of `Ainata, killing 15 civilians and two wounded Hezbollah fighters sheltering in an internal room.
According to relatives, two wounded Hezbollah fighters fled from the frontline fighting and came to the house of 34-year-old Fayez Khanafer in `Ainata. Fayez attempted to provide the wounded fighters with some first aid and to evacuate them to Saida, but could not find a driver willing to take them. On the morning of July 24, Fayez moved the wounded fighters and his entire family to the home of Muhammad `Ali Khanafer in the center of `Ainata. A few hours after Fayez moved into the home, it was struck by Israeli missiles and destroyed.
Fifteen civilians died inside the home, as well as the two wounded fighters. The 15 civilian dead were: Fayez Khanafer, 34, his wife Rima Samhat, 35, and their four children `Ali, age seven, Abdullah, six, Muhammad, three, and Dumu`, two; Maryam Fadlallah, 55, and her daughter Zahra, 17; Yemene Fadlallah, 40, and her son Khodr, age four; Almaza Hassan Fadlallah, 77; Zainab Khanafer, 78; `Afifa Khanafer, 50; Muhammad `Ali Wehbi, 82, and Kamila Khanafer, 61. The two Hezbollah fighters who died were Ahmad Jagbir, 19, from Bar`ashit village, and Muhammad `Atwe, 24, from Chakra village.318
Some of the 15 civilians who died in the bombing had links to Hezbollah, but could not be considered combatants as they did not take an active part in the hostilities. Fayez Khanafer, while not a member of Hezbollah, had provided shelter and first aid to the two wounded Hezbollah fighters who came to his home. Maryam Fadlallah was a Hezbollah activist (her son Amir had been killed in Bint Jbeil while fighting for Hezbollah). Both Maryam and her daughter Zahra decided to stay behind in `Ainata in part to bake bread for Hezbollah fighters, according to their relatives.319 None of the civilians could be considered directly participating in the hostilities as defined by international humanitarian law, and thus could not be targets of attack.
The Hezbollah fighters, being wounded and evidently not participating in the fighting, would be considered hors de combat (outside the fighting) and thus not a valid target of attack. As one laws of war expert has written with respect to the protection of wounded soldiers on the battlefield, it is only those who either stop fighting, or are prevented by their wounds from fighting, who are protected. Those who carry on fighting despite their wounds are not protected from attack.320 The IDF Laws of War in the Battlefield states: The wounded are regarded as persons who have stopped taking part in the fighting and they shall not be harmed.321
Even if the IDF believed it could lawfully attack the wounded combatants (or failed to realize their hors de combat status), it should have taken into account the likely civilian casualties of attacking them in a civilian home in determining whether the military gain of attacking them there outweighed the civilian harm.
Killing of Four UN Observers, Khiam, July 25
Around 7:30 p.m. on July 25, an Israeli precision-guided missile directly hit the clearly marked and well-known observer post of the UNs Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) near Khiam, demolishing a three-story building at the base and killing four unarmed United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) observers. The observers killed were Lt. Col. Du Zhaoyu, 34, from China; Lt. Cdr. Jarno Mäkinen, 20, of Finland; Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener, 43, of Canada; and Major Hans-Peter Lang, 44, of Austria.
The attack on the post came after 14 Israeli aerial bombs and artillery shells had fallen nearby, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said.322 There was no Hezbollah presence or firing near the UN position during the period of the attack. According to the United Nations, the UN Force Commander in southern Lebanon, General Alain Pelligrini, was in repeated contact with Israeli Army officers throughout the afternoon, pressing the need to protect that particular UN position from firing.323
In a statement issued immediately after the attack, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed shock at the apparently deliberate targeting of the clearly marked UN observer post. He called it a coordinated artillery and aerial attack and urged Israel to conduct an investigation.324
Israel expressed deep regret over the incident and rejected allegations it had deliberately targeted the UN post.325 Prime Minister Olmert promised to conduct a thorough investigation. It is inconceivable for the UN to define an error as an apparently deliberate action, he said.326 Secretary-General Annan accepted the Israeli governments assurance that the attack was not deliberate but regretted that Israel would not allow the UN to participate in the investigation.327 After a UN Board of Inquiry conducted its own limited investigation, a terse statement issued by the Secretary-General noted the lack of cooperation received from the IDF: The Board did not have access to operational or tactical level IDF commanders involved in the incident, and was, therefore, unable to determine why the attacks on the UN position were not halted, despite repeated demarches to the Israeli authorities from UN personnel, both in the field and at Headquarters.328
This was the first deadly attack on UN observers in southern Lebanon during the 2006 conflict, but Israeli forces had struck at or near other clearly marked UN positions since the beginning of the fighting. Hezbollah had regularly (and, in all likelihood, unlawfully) fired at Israeli targets from near UN positions, but in many cases (including the deadly Khiam attack) Israeli fire struck UN posts in the absence of any Hezbollah presence.
On July 24, four Ghanaian UNIFIL observers were lightly injured when an Israeli tank shell fell inside their UN post at Rmeish, one of six incidents of IDF fire on or close to UN positions recorded that day (UNIFIL did not report a Hezbollah presence near the Rmeish UN post that day).329 On July 16, UNIFIL recorded 17 instances of IDF fire on UN observer posts, including two direct hits inside UNIFIL observer posts. One IDF tank shell seriously wounded an Indian peacekeeper inside a UN post.330 On July 17, a UNIFIL medical team came under IDF fire while trying to retrieve the bodies of 16 civilians killed by an Israeli strike on the road between al-Biyada and Sham`a as they fled the village of Marwahin (see below).331 Even if Hezbollah was in the area of the UN during these attacks, the IDF apparently did not take adequate care to avoid harm to UN personnel and installations.
The magnitude of IDF attacks that hit close to UN positions in southern Lebanon is well documented in UNIFILs own daily reports. UNIFILs summary of attacks on its positions on July 19, for example, gives a troubling overview of just how often Israeli shells landed on their positions, as well as the actions of Hezbollah fighters that endangered UNIFIL personnel:
Peacekeeping forces are not parties to a conflict, even if they are usually professional soldiers. As long as they do not take part in hostilities, they are entitled to the same protection from attack afforded to civilians. 333 Thus deliberate or indiscriminate attacks on peacekeepers are a violation of international humanitarian law. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has explicitly included intentionally directing attacks on peacekeeping personnel as a war crime.334
Killing of Two Civilians, Kafra, July 26
At about 4 p.m. on July 26, Israeli warplanes hit several neighboring homes in Kafra, located 10 kilometers southeast of the coastal town of Tyre. Ayyad Merhi, 48, a van driver who survived the attack, explained that he had stayed in the village to look after his elderly parents, since his mother was bedridden and could not be moved, and his father refused to leave his native village. He told Human Rights Watch how the attack occurred:
The attack killed his father Muhammad Merhi, 78, and his mother Latifah Abu Zayd, 72. Both are buried as civilians in Kafra.336
According to Ayyad Mustafa, there were no Hezbollah military operations nearby: Hezbollah was not firing from close to the house; their rockets were coming from the valleys.337 The other four destroyed homes were all empty, as the families had fled to Beirut. The attack was the first IDF strike on the village of Kafra.
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike. According to a report compiled by the IDF-affiliated Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Hezbollah fired 17 rockets from within houses in Kafra during the war.338 However, there is no evidence that the firing came from near the Merhi home or that Hezbollah fired rockets from the village on July 26.
Killing of Six Civilians, Hadatha, July 27
At 3:30 p.m. on July 27, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at an abandoned womens Shi`a religious center (a hussainiyya) in Hadatha, located some 15 kilometers southeast of the coastal city of Tyre. According to the mukhtar of the village, the abandoned religious center was not affiliated with Hezbollah. After hitting the center, the planes returned and demolished an adjacent three-story home. Hajj `Abd al-Jalil Nasir, 73, the former mukhtar of the village who was at his home just 50 meters away, recalled the attack to Human Rights Watch:
Those killed in the attack were Mustafa Nasir, 80; his sister Naimeh, 60, and her husband Hussain Sabra, 58; Yusif Mansur, 73, and his wife Zainab Sabra, 75, and their daughter Samia Mansur 50. All were buried as civilians in Hadatha.340
The former mukhtar of Hadatha, Hajj `Abd al-Jalil Nasir, who remained in his village until the 48-hour ceasefire and is not associated with Hezbollah, told Human Rights Watch that Hezbollah fighters had been prohibited from entering his village and had fought from existing positions in the surrounding valleys:
The Erlich Report, which radar-tracked rocket launchers in southern Lebanon, does not mention any rockets fired from within the village of Hadatha.342
Killing of Six Civilians, al-Numeiriyya, July 29
At about 2:30 p.m. on July 29, `Adnan Harake, age 43, a 20-year veteran of the Lebanese Civil Defense, briefly left his home in al-Numeiriyya to go buy bread and other food supplies in the center of the village. When he returned 30 minutes later, he found that Israeli warplanes had reduced his home to rubble, killing his second wife and four children as well as a neighbor. I left a nice house and my family, Harake told Human Rights Watch, and a few minutes later I returned to a pile of rubble.
Six people were killed in the attack: Harakes second wife Sawsan Mehdi, 30; and his children Ranim, 17; `Ali, 13; Rida, 11; and Hadi, age eight; as well as his neighbor Naif Abdullah Bdeir, 56. All were buried in al-Numeiriyya village as civilians, and none were claimed by Hezbollah as fighters or martyrs.
Al-Numeiriyya is a small village located about half-way between the coastal cities of Tyre and Saida and the inland city of Nabatiye, too far away from the Israeli border to serve as a launching site for short-range rockets. The house was located along the main road out of al-Numeriyya towards Dweir, and had a small agricultural supplies shop on the bottom floor; the apartment of Naif Abdullah Bdeir, a real estate agent without Hezbollah affiliation, on the first floor; and Harakes apartment on the second floor. According to Harake, a neighboring building was empty and unused at the time of the attack. According to Harake, there was no Hezbollah presence, rockets, or weapons nearby: We didnt have a missile launcher, nothing of the sort, no [Hezbollah] flags, nothing. It was just a normal house. Me and my neighbor, we had nothing to do with Hezbollah . The second building was empty. They may have seen people moving; maybe that is why the attacked. There were no trucks parked nearby.343
Killing of 27 Civilians, Qana, July 30
Around 1 a.m. on July 30, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the village of Qana. Among the homes struck was a three-story building in which 63 members of two extended families had sought shelter. The home collapsed and killed 27 people, including 16 children.
Initial reports after the attack put the death toll at 54, which was based on the register of 63 persons who had sought shelter in the building that was struck, and the rescue teams ability to locate only nine survivors. Relying on multiple interviews with rescuers and village officials as well as media accounts, Human Rights Watch issued a press release on July 30 that also put the death toll at at least 54 civilians. But a Human Rights Watch inspection of the Qana site and our interviews conducted at the Tyre hospital on August 1 and 2 established that the actual death toll of the attack was lower. Human Rights Watch learned after a visit to Qana that at least 22 people escaped the basement; 27 are confirmed dead (a 28th person from Qana died at the hospital around the same time, but was not in the building that was attacked). No more bodies were recovered since the immediate recovery effort. There is no indication that the rescuers and village officials intentionally attempted to mislead the media and Human Rights Watch researchers by intentionally giving inflated death tolls; rather, an innocent misinterpretation of the register of persons in the building and a lack of due diligence in checking the death count by the media and Human Rights Watchs researchers are responsible for the error.
Two families had sought shelter in the house because it was one of the larger buildings in the area and had a reinforced basement, according to the deputy mayor of the town, Dr. `Issam Matuni.344
According to Muhammad Mahmud Shalhoub, a 61-year-old farmer who was in the basement during the attack, 63 members of the Shalhoub and Hashim families went to hide in three ground-floor rooms of the three-story building when the first missile struck the village around 6 p.m. on July 29. He explained how, around 1 a.m. on July 30, after heavy bombing in the village, an Israeli missile hit the ground floor of the home:
Shalhoub told Human Rights Watch that there were no Hezbollah fighters present in or near the home when the attack took place. Israeli bombs had cut all four roads into Qana, he said, which would have made it difficult if not impossible for Hezbollah to move rocket launchers into the village. If they [the IDF] really saw the rocket launchers, where did it go? Shalhoub said. We showed Israel our dead; why dont the Israelis show us the rocket launchers?
Ghazi `Aydaji, another Qana villager who rushed to the house when it was hit at 1 a.m., gave an account consistent with Shalhoubs. He and others removed a number of survivors from the building after the first strike, he said, but they could remove no one else after the second strike hit five minutes later. If Hezbollah was firing near the house, would a family of over 50 people just sit there? he asked.346
Human Rights Watch researchers visited Qana on July 31, the day after the attack, and did not find any destroyed military equipment in or near the home. None of the dozens of international journalists, rescue workers, and international observers who visited Qana on July 30 and 31 reported seeing any evidence of a Hezbollah military presence in or around the home around the time that it was hit. Rescue workers recovered no bodies of apparent Hezbollah fighters from in or near the building.
After the incident, Israeli officials expressed regret over the civilian deaths and said Israel would conduct an investigation. Various officials said that Hezbollah fighters were to blame for firing rockets near the building, and that the IDF had warned civilians to leave.347 Various Israeli spokespersons gave contradictory statements about the attack: one spokesperson stated that the bombs had missed a Hezbollah target 300 meters away, while another said that the house had been the target because Hezbollah fighters had used the house. Several officials also stated that the second explosion had taken place only hours later, in the early morning hours, and suggested that a Hezbollah rocket stored inside may have caused that explosion. All of these contradictory statements were ultimately not repeated when Israel released the findings of its investigation.
IDF spokesperson Jacob Dallal blamed Hezbollah for the civilian deaths, stating that Hezbollah used the village of Qana as a base to launch rockets and it bears responsibility that this area is a combat zone, but not offering any evidence linking the specific building struck to Hezbollah rocket fire.348 An unnamed senior Israeli air commander said the IDF had hit the building with a precision-guided bomb on the assumption that it was sheltering Hezbollah crews that had fired missiles at northern Israel, and denied that the IDF had targeted civilians: Had we known there were that many civilians inside, we certainly would not have attacked [the house].349 When asked how the military knew about the rockets but not the presence of civilians in the building, the commander said the IDF was capable of detecting missile launches because they are very dynamic, while the civilians were not seen because they had been hiding in the building for some days.350 His statement is contrary to the account of Muhammad Mahmud Shalhoub, above, who said the families went into the house to hide when the aerial attack began around 6 p.m. on July 29, not days before the attack. The IDF has never released any evidence to support the Israeli air commanders contention that Hezbollah had fired rockets from the area. Nor does the alleged fact of Hezbollahs use of the village of Qana as a base to launch rockets justify a direct attack twice on a civilian building.
On August 1, one of Israels top military correspondents wrote in Haaretz that, while the Israeli Air Force investigation into the incident was ongoing, questions have been raised over military accounts of the incident. He elaborated that the IDF changed its original story and that it now appears that the military had no information on rockets launched from the site of the building, or the presence of Hezbollah men at the time.351
According to the lists of the Lebanese Red Cross and the Tyre hospital, as well as a Human Rights Watch visit to the Qana burial site on September 14, 2006, the 27 victims of the Qana bombing were: Husna Hashim, 75; Mahdi Mahmud Hashim, 68; Ibrahim Hashim, 65; Ahmad Mahmud Shalhoub, 55; `Afaf al-Zabad, 45; Nabila `Ali Amin Shalhoub, 40; Tayssir `Ali Shalhoub, 39; Khadija `Ali Yussef, 31; Maryam Hassan Mohsen, 30; Lina Muhammad Mahmud Shalhoub, 30; `Ola Ahmad Mahmud Shalhoub, 25; `Ali Ahmad Mahmud Shalhoub, 17; Hussain Ahmad Hashim, 12; Houra Muhammad Qassem Shalhoub, 12; `Ali Muhammad Qassem Shalhoub, 10; Ja`far Mahmud Hashim, 10; Qassem Samih Shalhoub, nine; Yahya Muhammad Qassem Shalhoub, nine; Qassem Muhammad Shalhoub, seven; Raqiteh Mahmud Shalhoub, seven; Ibrahim Ahmad Hashim, seven; Yussef Ahmad Mahmud Shalhoub, six; Zainab Muhammad `Ali Amin Shalhoub, six; Fatima Muhammad Hashim, four; `Ali Ahmad Hashim, three; Zahra Muhammad Qassem Shalhoub, two; and `Abbas Ahmad Hashim, nine months.
A mass burial of 30 bodies took place in Qana on August 18. The burial involved all 27 victims of the Qana bombing, as well as three Hezbollah fighters who had been killed outside Qana in fighting unrelated to the bombing (one of the three fighters was buried in a graveyard in a different neighborhood of Qana).352 Only one of the 27 Qana victims17-year-old `Ali Ahmad Mahmud Shalhoubwas buried with a Hezbollah flag draped over his coffin, a common practice for Hezbollah symphatizers, regardless of whether they are simple supporters, military fighters, or non-military members. According to his relatives, he was a Hezbollah sympathizer, not a Hezbollah fighter, and his grave stone does not identify him as a military martyr.353
Killing of Three Civilians, al-Luweizeh, August 1
At about 4 p.m. on August 1, Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets over the village of al-Luweizeh, located in a mountainous region about 10 kilometers north of Nabatiyeh, stating that they were about to launch an air raid on the village and ordering the villagers to immediately leave their homes and go north.354 While some villagers heeded the warnings, others remained in their homes, reassured by the fact that Israel had declared a 48-hour ceasefire following the Qana incident.
At about 4:50 p.m., 36-year-old Rahab Hashim left her home next to the towns square, and got into her car to go collect her husband for a late lunch. As she drove away, an Israeli missile struck the home she had just left, demolishing the home and knocking her unconscious. A girl and two women inside the home were killed: Rahabs 12-year-old daughter Hanadi; Rahabs sister-in-law Ilham, 38; and Rashida Muqalid, 60, who was bedridden. All three dead were buried as civilians. Three young boys were seriously wounded in the attack, including a 16-year-old who remained in a coma for twelve days.
According to the villagers, the family had no connections to Hezbollah. The owner of the house, who lost his daughter in the attack, works for the Lebanese Red Cross. A neighbor speculated:
While humanitarian law requires effective advance warning to the civilian population prior to an attack where circumstances permit, those warnings do not in any way relieve the warring party from its obligations at all times to distinguish between combatants and civilians and to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from harm. Issuing warnings in no way entitled the Israeli military to treat those civilians who remained in al-Luweizeh as legitimate military targets or to ignore their presence for reasons of distinction and proportionality.
Killing of Two Hezbollah Fighters, One Hospital Nurse, Two Armed Communist Party Members and 11 Civilians, Jamaliyeh and Baalbek, August 1
Starting at about 9:30 p.m. on August 1, hundreds of Israeli commando troops backed by Apache helicopters and war planes launched a major raid on the Hezbollah-aligned Dar al-Hikma Hospital in Jamaliyeh, a village on the outskirts of the city of Baalbek in the Beka` Valley, as well as a separate raid inside Baalbek itself.
According to the IDF, the target of the raid was a hospital known to be used by the Hezbollah terror organization as one of its headquarters. Hezbollah weapons, computers, computer storage media, and a large amount of vital intelligence materials were seized. Ten terrorists were killed during the operation, and five others were captured by Israeli forces. There were no IDF or civilian casualties.356 In fact, most of those killed were civilians, including a family of six Syrian Kurdish farm workers, and the captured terrorists turned out to be civilians as well. Instead of a precise surgical raid claimed by the IDF, the operation appears to have been based on questionable intelligence and had a disproportionate impact on civilians.
The raid started with intensive bombardment of the roads around the Dar al-Hikma hospital between 9:30 and 10:15 p.m., cutting off all the access roads to the hospital. The Israeli commandos were then dropped by helicopters and made their way on foot to the hospital. According to the director of the Dar al-Hikma hospital, the IDF commandos shot dead a nurse at the hospital, Atif Amhaz, as he tried to flee and also wounded two armed security guards. As the commandos took control of the hospital, Hezbollah militants tried to ambush them. Two Hezbollah militants were killed during the ensuing firefight. An Israeli drone hit one with a missile as he approached the hospital, and Israeli small arms fire killed a second after he fired at the Israeli troops. Human Rights Watch saw Hezbollah martyr posters for only the nurse and the two Hezbollah militants around Jamaliyeh, suggesting that they were the only three Hezbollah-affiliated persons to die in the commando raid. Others killed, as noted below, were a group of armed men, who were valid military targets, and civilians in their vicinity. Our research does not support the IDF claim that ten terrorists were killed. 357
The Israeli commandos searched every room in the hospital, confiscating the hospital files and computer disks, and also reportedly discovered AK-47 rifles and other unspecified small arms at the hospital. They did not take any prisoners. The hospital director freely admitted that his hospital had links to Hezbollah and speculated that the IDF may have carried out the raid because it believed the two kidnapped IDF soldiers were being kept at the hospital, or that the hospital was treating important wounded Hezbollah commanders or officials.358
International humanitarian law provides that parties to a conflict must protect and respect medical units, such as military and civilian hospitals, in all circumstances. They lose their protection if they are used for military purposes outside of their humanitarian function that is harmful to the enemy.359 The presence of armed guards or small arms and ammunition taken from the wounded would not be a basis for a hospital losing its protection; using a hospital to store ammunition or shelter able-bodied combatants would be such a basis. Some states specifically prohibit using medical units for military purposes or consider the improper military use of privileged buildings, such as hospitals, to be a war crime.360 The protection due hospitals ceases, however, only after due warning and a reasonable time limit, and that warning has gone unheeded.361 Further investigation is needed before conclusions can be reached with respect to this incident.
While the Israeli operation was underway in Jamaliyeh, nearly 100 residents fled their homes on the main road nearby and gathered at the home of Mukhtar Hussain Jamal al-Din, a staunch supporter of the Lebanese Communist Party. Almost all of those inside the home were women and children, and the men gathered outside under trees to alleviate some of the crowding inside. According to the mukhtar, two of the men outside the home, 18-year-old Maxim Jamal al-Din, the son of the mukhtar, and 58-year-old `Awad Jamal al-Din, were armed with AK-47s.362
Around 2:00 a.m., Israeli helicopters appear to have spotted the large group of men sheltering under the trees outside the mukhtars home, as it fired six Hellfire missiles at them. The missiles killed all three of the Lebanese Communist Party members (Maxim Jamal al-Din, `Awad Jamal al-Din, who were both armed, and Hassan Jamal al-Din, who was unarmed) as well as three unarmed men and a boy: Naji Jamal al-Din, 45, a furniture maker; his son Muhammad Najdi Jamal al-Din, 12; Malik Jamal al-Din, 22, a painter; and Hussain al-Mekdad, 42, a public transport worker.363 Several others, including a 76-year-old man and the mukhtars 19-year-old daughter, were injured in the attack. The three dead members of the Lebanese Communist Party were claimed as martyrs by the party.
The mukhtar and other relatives argued to Human Rights Watch that the Israeli helicopters had unlawfully attacked the armed men at the house because the armed men had not engaged the Israeli commandos or fired at the helicopters, and had merely been prepared to confront the Israeli soldiers if they entered the neighborhood of the home. However, such an interpretation misunderstands the laws of war: the two armed men were combatants under the laws of war, and the IDF could lawfully fire upon. The two combatants endangered the lives of the civilians by mixing with them, as the combatants could be legitimately attacked by the IDF. The four unarmed bystanders killed in the attack put themselves at risk by mixing with combatants during an Israeli military operation, and must be considered collateral casualties to a legitimate Israeli military strike.
Around 3:30 a.m., Israeli helicopters fired a missile at a Syrian Kurdish farmers family that was attempting to flee its tent for the safety of a nearby home owned by a Lebanese man. The farmers had come to Lebanon to work as seasonal agricultural laborers and resided in tents in a field approximately one kilometer away from the Jamal al-Din house. According to the relatives of the family, five families of farmers had been sheltering in fear in their tents since the commando raid began shortly after 9:00 p.m., hearing constant explosions and Israeli aircraft and helicopters in the air. The children were crying, and everyone was afraid, Mahmud Sukar, 37, recalled to Human Rights Watch, at around midnight, Talals family came outside. His wife was crying, and the children were afraid. They wanted to leave but didnt know where to go.364
At 3:30 a.m., Talal Chibli decided it was unsafe to remain in the tents and ran with his family towards the relative safety of a nearby Lebanese home. Just 30 meters from his home, an Israeli Apache helicopter fired a missile at the family. Six members of the family were killed: Talal Chibli, 40 (who died seven hours later); his wife Maha Sha`ban, 32; and their children Muhannad, 13, Muayyad, 12 (who died at 7:30 a.m. from his wounds), Asma, age six, and Muhammad, four. Three children survived with grave wounds: Muthana, age nine (who remained hospitalized one month after the attack when Human Rights Watch visited the scene of the incident), Mus`ab, age five, and Batul, eight months.
The Syrian farmworkers had no links to Hezbollah and were not participating in the hostilities. There was no resistance [Hezbollah] here; no one fired at the Israelis when they landed, Isma`il al-Hammud, a relative of those killed, recalled. Our tents were shaking from the explosions. The Israelis would fire at anything that moved. At least three dogs died around here [from the gunfire].365 We have nothing to do with resistance [Hezbollah]; we are Syrian workers, Mahmud Sukar, another relative, told Human Rights Watch, we dont know anything about these activities.366
At the same time as the commando raid on Dar al-Hikma hospital, Israeli commandos also raided al-`Usaira, a neighborhood in Baalbek, located about five kilometers away (in its reports on the raids, the IDF designated the two raids as a single operation). At around 10:15 p.m., Israeli warplanes began bombing homes in al-`Usaira, demolishing many homes. At around 11:45 p.m., about 50 to 60 Israeli commandos entered a home with 12 civilians inside.
The object of the raid remains unclear. However, it appears that the Israeli commandos were looking for someone named Hassan Nasrallah, the same name as the secretary-general of Hezbollah. But the Hassan Nasrallah they found was a 54-year-old local shopkeeper who was not related to the leader of Hezbollah. As soon as they entered the home, they asked the shopkeeper in broken Arabic, Are you Hassan Nasrallah?367 The Israeli commandos took Hassan Nasrallah and the five other men in the house, including his 14-year-old son. The men were taken up the mountain behind Baalbek, where they saw hundreds of additional commandos and waiting Israeli helicopters.
During the transfer, Israeli soldiers allegedly threatened and beat several of the detained men with rifle butts. Muhammad Nasrallah, the 14-year-old, told Human Rights Watch that an Israeli officer told him: If you tell me who is in the resistance, I will let you go to your mother. He replied that they were all civilians. The officer then threatened the boy: You see your father here? If you dont tell me who is in the resistance, I will kill him and you.368 In a separate interview with Human Rights Watch, Hassan Nasrallah also said that the soldiers had threatened his son.369 They then told him to find his own way back home. He spent several hours walking back while Israeli drones and warplanes bombarded the neighborhood.
Israeli soldiers allegedly repeatedly beat Bilal Nasrallah, Hassans 31-year-old son, with rifle butts as they walked up the mountain. Muhammad Shukr, their 46-year-old neighbor, had his head smashed into a wall while being handcuffed and was bleeding profusely.370 The soldiers then loaded the men on the helicopters and took them to an undisclosed detention center in Israel.
At the Israeli prison, Israeli officials repeatedly interrogated the men and accused them of being Hezbollah members. They repeatedly accused Hassan Deeb Nasrallahs son, Bilal Nasrallah, of being the son of the Hezbollah Secretary-General, even though his father was with him. Bilal recalled his first interrogation to Human Rights Watch:
According to one of the detained men, when he asked the interrogators what would happen to them, the interrogators told the men they would keep them in detention in order to exchange them for the captured Israeli soldiers.372 Israeli interrogators questioned all of the men multiple times, but apparently had no information implicating the men in Hezbollah activities, and never presented any evidence during the interrogations.
On August 16, Israeli human rights lawyer Leah Tzemel of the Public Committee Against Torture gained access to the detained men, retained them as her clients, and brought a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court to obtain their release. On August 21, rather than answering the Supreme Court application, Israel released the five men without publicity. They took the men to the Israel-Lebanon border and handed them over to the International Committee of the Red Cross, who passed them on to UNIFIL, who in turn transferred the men to Lebanese military intelligence.
Dan Halutz, the IDFs Chief of Staff, appeared less than certain about the results of the commando raid when he issued a statement afterwards: The end result of this undertaking is still unclear to us, because we collected a lot of materials and we still need to analyze them, to decipher them, and to understand what we brought with us . But I have no doubt that we will find further benefits of this operation, because part of them are still hidden from view since we havent had time to verify the quality of the items we brought.373 Following the release of the five men, an unnamed Israeli official admitted to the New York Times that they had been wrong: We captured five people we thought were involved with Hezbollah. Under questioning, it turned out we were wrong. So we turned them over to the UN.374
Killing of Four Fighters and Three Civilians, al-Jibbain, August 3
On August 3 or 4, an Israeli helicopter strike killed three Hezbollah fighters: Hassan Sami Musalamani, `Ali Sami Musalamani, and Hassan Ahmad `Akil, and one Amal fighter, `Abbas Ahmad `Akil, in an uninhabited valley some 900 meters from the nearest homes of the village of al-Jibbain, located close to the Israeli border. Hezbollah was apparently using the location to fire rockets at Israel. Human Rights Watch researchers tried to visit the area where the four militants died, but a municipal official, who consulted with a Hezbollah commander on his mobile phone, prevented them from doing so until the site could be, in the words of the municipal official, cleaned up.375
A tobacco farmer who was present in the neighborhood during the war told Human Rights Watch about Hezbollah fighters and rocket positions around his village. He explained that Hezbollah fighters moved through his village on occasion during the war, but that he had not seen them fire rockets from within the village:
Around the same time as this attack, Israeli helicopters also attacked civilian homes on the outskirts of the village closest to the valley from where rockets were fired. An Israeli Apache helicopter fired at least three Hellfire missiles at the home of 70-year-old Qassim Mahmud `Akil, killing him, his 81-year-old wife Khadija Ghanem, and their 42-year-old daughter, Maryam `Akil.377 According to a cousin, who had left the house just an hour before the attack, there was no Hezbollah presence in the area of Qassims house, only in the uninhabited valley outside the village.378
Killing of 25 Syrian Kurdish Farmworkers, al-Qa` (Beka` Valley), August 4
At 2:00 p.m. on Friday, August 4, Israeli warplanes attacked a warehouse and the residence of a janitor on the al-Wifaq farm in al-Qa`, located in the no-mans zone along the Lebanese and Syrian border. The missiles struck the warehouse as Syrian farmworkers were eating their lunch inside, killing 25. At the time of the attack, the farm was busy harvesting apricots, and a refrigerated truck had left the property at about 11:30 a.m. with a load of apricots. An Israeli drone had been flying over the farm as farm workers loaded the refrigerated truck, according to the farm manager.379
All of the 25 persons killed were Syrian Kurds who had come as seasonal laborers to assist with the harvest: Muhammad Abdo `Aliko, 67; Muhammad Muhammad `Aliko, 23; Abdullah Bakir, 53; Itan Bakir, 21; Muhammad Yacoub, 28; Nidal Yacoub, 23; Rachid Madan, 26; `Aziza Madan, 19; Muhammad Mustafa, 25; Almaza Brim, 52; Shaikh Otman Haidar, 17; Ahmad Rachid, 46; Jamil Rachid, 24; Choukri Rikkas, 27; Mazkin Rikkas, 19; Awkah Rikkas, 17; Rachid Ayoush, 23; Mustafa Ayoush, 16; Hassan Ayoush, 27; Assad Sido, 35; Farid Sido, 19; Hanane Ahmad, 24; Rojine Sido, 17; Wahid Shiho, 37; and Khalif al-Heza Hamid, 26. The attack injured nine others.380
IDF spokesperson, Jacob Dallal, stated after the attack that they based the decision to target the building on the movement of the refrigerated truck: The air force spotted a truck that was suspected to have been loaded with weapons cross from Syria into Lebanon on a route that is routinely used to transport weapons. The truck entered a building and remained inside for an hour, then left and returned to Syria. Dallal explained that they targeted the building after the departure of the truck.381
There is no indication that the warehouse was ever used for any purpose other than farming. The owners of the farm are a Sunni Muslim and a Maronite Christian with no links to Hezbollah. Television crews were present during the recovery effort after the attack and filmed no weapons or missiles being removed from the destroyed warehouse, only the bodies of farmworkers. There was nothing to attack here, the farm manager told Human Rights Watch, no Hezbollah, and no weapons.382 The police chief of al-Qa`, a Maronite Christian, also said that there had been no Hezbollah presence or weapons on the farm, and stated that it would have been impossible for Hezbollah to move weapons through the official Lebanese border post nearby.383
Killing of Three Civilians, Taibe, August 5
At approximately 6 p.m. on August 5, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at the home of Hani Abdo Marmar in the village of Taibe. Marmar was a farmer and owned cows. The strike killed Marmar, 48, his wife Nahiya Karim, 36, and their daughter Aya, age two. All three were buried as civilians in Taibe. Hezbollah claimed none as fighters or martyrs.384
According to another daughter who had left the village on July 23, My father decided to stay as he had cows here and he had to feed them. My stepmother stayed with him. No one knew what was going to happen.385 The mukhtar of the village, Hussain Kazem, told Human Rights Watch that Marmar was a civilian who had stayed behind to take care of his cows.386 Human Rights Watch was unable to find witnesses to verify whether Hezbollah combatants were in the vicinity or stored weapons nearby. The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike on the building and home.
Killing of Five Civilians, Insar, August 7
At 12:30 a.m. on August 7, an Israeli warplane fired a missile into the home of 50-year-old Ibrahim Zain Assi in the village of Insar, located approximately halfway between the coastal cities of Tyre and Saida. According to the mukhtar of the town, Zakaria Safawi, Insar had been relatively quiet during the war, and the attack took the town by surprise: We considered the town to be calm, because there was no resistance based here. Some people had left, but many had stayed.387
The strike killed Ibrahim Zain Assi, 50, a notary; his daughters Ghina, 24, who worked at the Beirut airport, and Maya, 21, a law student at the Lebanese University in Saida; Ibrahims sister-in-law, Hasna Qubeisi, 40; and his neighbor Marwan `Ali Assi, 37, a school bus driver. All of the dead were buried as civilians in Insar, and none was claimed by Hezbollah or other militant parties as a fighter or martyr.388 According to his family and the mukhtar of the village, the dead had no relationship to Hezbollah.
The sister and father of Ibrahim believe the house was hit because Ibrahim had received many visitors on the night of the attack: relatives, neighbors, and friends who had come over to talk, drink tea, and smoke the traditional sheesha waterpipes. Some of the visitors had left just shortly before the attack, and Ibrahim had been talking to his neighbor Marwan who was just leaving at the time of the attack.389
Killing of Seven Civilians, al-Ghassaniyeh, August 7
At about 2:25 a.m. on August 7, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at a two-story building in al-Ghassaniyeh, located about half way between the coastal cities of Tyre and Saida. The strike killed seven persons: Abdullah Khalil Tohme, 58; his wife Fatima Muhammad Mukhaddar, 55; and their son Muhammad, 25; their neighbors Nur Hassan Salih, 19, Muhammad Qasim Hamud, 31, and Sulaiman Qasim Hammud, 25; and Hussain Haidar `Amer, 17, who was visiting from the village of Saksakiyye.390
Although their relatives and villagers told Human Rights Watch that all seven of the men were civilians, Muhammad Qasim Hammud and his brother Sulaiman are buried with the inscription Martyrs of the Resistance Legions of Amal, indicating they were fighters for Amal. Amal martyr posters depicting the two men with automatic weapons were also visible in the town.
When asked about the identification of the men as fighters, several villagers and relatives of the men insisted that all the dead were civilians, and that the two men were buried with Amal honors and issued martyr posters because they were political supporters of Amal, but not active fighters. (At the same time, the witness identified Ahmad Nimr Danaf, another villager killed in the war, as an Amal fighter). One of the neighbors told Human Rights Watch: Because the family is pro-Amal, the party decided to give them an Amal funeral and put up martyr posters, but those pictures [depicting the men with weapons] are computer generated.391
This adamant denial by relatives and other villagers that the men were fighters is unusual. In other cases where fighters died in the war, families proudly affirmed their status, considering it a family honor. The denials in this case suggest that Amal, because of its more limited role in the Israel-Hezbollah war, decided to claim non-combatants members as martyrs, as this would assert its militancy and inflate its role in the conflict.
One of the neighbors told Human Rights Watch that there was no military presence around the house.392
Killing of 16 Civilians, al-Ghaziyeh, August 7
On August 7 and 8, Israeli warplanes bombed a number of targets in al-Ghaziyeh, a large town just south of the coastal city of Saida, killing a total of 26 persons, all of them civilians (one person killed was a Hezbollah member, but not a fighter). It appears that many of the targets were associated with a national-level Hezbollah leader from the town, Amin Muhammad Khalifa.393 It is not clear whether Khalifa was active in Hezbollahs military or civilian structures. Among the targets hit was his neighbors house and the homes and shops of his brothers. Amin Khalifa was not in al-Ghaziyeh during the war, including at the time the attacks that took place; the air strikes killed only civilians.
The attacks on al-Ghaziyeh shocked many of the towns residents because they had considered their town to be safe, uninvolved in the Israel-Hezbollah fighting. In fact, many displaced persons from southern Lebanon had come to al-Ghaziyeh to seek a safe haven from the war. `Ali Deeb Zabad, a retired Lebanese Army officer with no links to Hezbollah, who fled from Borj al-Shemali to al-Ghaziyeh during the war (and lost his sister in the bombing, as described below), told Human Rights Watch: There was no Hezbollah military presence in Ghaziyeh. The whole time I was there, there was not one bullet fired. People felt comfortable there . Ghaziyeh was full of people [who had fled to the town from other villages]; it had one-and-a-half times its normal population.394
The Zabad family had fled from Borj al-Shemali for safety in al-Ghaziyeh during the 48-hour ceasefire, renting an apartment next to `Ali Zabads sister Sihams house. In the early morning of August 7, Siham invited `Ali over for coffee, but he declined because he had already drunk several cups at his home. At 7:55 a.m., two Israeli air strikes hit Sihams home. The air strikes killed five people: Siham, 43, her daughter Wafa al-Cha`er, 39, her grandson Hadi Ja`far, 1, and her cousin Nadia, 39. Also killed was `Ali Muhammad Layla, 23, a neighbor who was sitting on his balcony across the street and was killed by shrapnel. All five dead are buried as civilians.395 Eight others, including Sihams three sons, ages 25 to 17, were injured in the attack but survived. According to `Ali Deeb Zabad, none of his family members had ties to Hezbollah, and none of the apartments in the three-story building struck were associated with Hezbollah.396
About 20 minutes later, the Israelis struck twice more, targeting a series of shops in the town square and a home just 100 meters away belonging to a civilian, Hassan Ahmad Badran, age 77. Both targets may have had some connection to Amin Khalifa, the Hezbollah official; Khalifas brother Ibrahim owned the shops, and the home was close to Khalifas empty home. Hassan Badran, who lost most of his relatives in the strike on his home, recalled to Human Rights Watch how he had gone out of his home just before the attack to buy some food for his family. As he was greeting the shopkeepers in the town square, an Israeli air strike destroyed the shops in front of him. Dust covered the area, and we couldnt see anything. My son Ahmad went to hide under a car, and he was screaming for me, Father! Father! When he saw me, he said, Praise God. We didnt know that our own house had also been attacked.397 The attack killed three shopkeepers: Ahmad Mustafa Ghadar, 46; Hussain `Abbas Yuni, 39; and Muhammad Ahmad Qa`in, 65. All those killed were buried as civilians in al-Ghaziyeh.398
When Hassan Badran returned home after the attack, he found his own home reduced to rubble in the simultaneous air strike, killing most of his family inside. Eight members of his family died in the home: Rakiya, 67, his wife of fifty years; his six children (some by a younger second wife) Layla, 49, Zainab, 46, `Ali, 19, Hanin, 16, Manal, 14, and Hassan, 10, and his granddaughter (daughter of Layla) Maryam Fadil Halal, 28.399 All are buried as civilians. Hassan told Human Rights Watch that there were no fighters or weapons in the home.400 However, the home is located just 50 meters away from the then-empty home of Hezbollah official Amin Khalifa.
Even if Amin Khalifas position in Hezbollah made him a legitimate military target (Human Rights Watch has no information to suggest that this was the case), his family home was not necessarily a military objective. Israel would have had to take all feasible precautions before attacking the house to verify that the target was a military objective, such as Khalifas being present at the time. Even then Israel would have had to determine that the likely military gain of such an attack would have exceeded the expected loss of targeting a single house in a crowded village.
Killing of One Civilian, Houla, August 7
At about 10 a.m. on August 7, Israeli war planes launched a number of air strikes on buildings surrounding a hussainiyya (Shi`a religious building) in the village of Houla, located on the Israeli-Lebanese border 25 kilometers east of Tyre. Addressing an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Beirut that day, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora spoke of a horrific massacre in Houla, leaving more than 40 persons dead. However, Siniora corrected himself later the same day, stating that updated information from rescue workers had established one person, not 40, had died in the Houla attack.401
According to `Aziza Shukair, 51, who was wounded in the attack, the air strikes first hit the hussainiyya, then a neighboring building in which 15 civilians were sheltering, and then a third building, after the 15 civilians from the second building fled there, as well as a fourth empty building near the second building. The air strikes killed Hassan `Ali al-Hajj, 65, while he was running between two buildings to seek shelter during the attack. The 15 civilians were temporarily trapped in the basement when the building they were sheltering in collapsed following the strikes, but all survived with minor injuries.402
According to Shukair, there was no Hezbollah presence in the neighborhood at the time of the attack: In our area, there was no resistance. They were far away from the town. Our area was a safe area, because there is nothing [military targets] here. The resistance fought from outside the village, in the hills, and there was no one at the hussainiyya. A lot of people had left the village, but we had to stay because we had livestock.403
The IDF has offered no explanation for the strike. According to the Erlich Report, Hezbollah fired two rockets from within houses in Houla during the war.404 The Erlich report does not specify when these rockets were fired or whether they were fired from the buildings targeted by the IDF attack on August 7.
Killing of Nine Civilians, Brital (Beka` Valley), August 7
Between 7:30 and 8 p.m. on August 7, a massive Israeli strike in the middle of Brital, located eight kilometers south of Baalbek in the Beka` Valley, demolished a butcher shop and an adjoining mini-market, and sprayed shrapnel into homes hundreds of meters away from the site of the explosion.405 The attack killed eight people, all young, who had gathered in the center of the village to socialize and use the public phone, according to village officials: `Abbas Salih, 18, the owner of the butcher shop; `Abbas Tlays, 20; `Abbas Sawan, 17, and his twin sister Ghazalah Sawan, 17; Muhammad al-Ajami, 16; Hawra al-Ajami, 12; Hawra Isma`il, 29; and the pregnant Fatima Mazlum, 17.
One of the mukhtars of the village, Qasim Salih, 65, tried to take one of the wounded to a hospital in Baalbek after the attack. An Israeli missile struck the car as it was driving to the hospital, killing the mukhtar and further wounding his passenger, who survived the attack. All of those killed in the attack were buried as civilians, and none was claimed by Hezbollah or other militant factions as a martyr. 406
The attack on Brital was unexpected by the local villagers, because of the peculiar situation of Brital. It is the birthplace and home of Shaikh Subhi Tufayli, a former secretary-general of Hezbollah (1989-1991). Hezbollah expelled Shaikh Tufayli in 1998 when he founded a civil disobedience campaign against the Lebanese government called the Revolution of the Hungry. In January 1998, the Lebanese army raided his headquarters, killing his son-in-law Khudr Tlays (a former member of Parliament for Hezbollah) and effectively disarming the Tufayli faction. Since 1998, the Lebanese authorities kept an active arrest warrant for Shaikh Tufayli and an active military presence around Brital, including a military checkpoint at the entrance of the village.
It is thus unlikely that there were Hezbollah fighters inside Shaikh Tufaylis political headquarters, or that his supporters were cooperating with Hezbollah. The IDF may have sought to target Shaikh Tufayli because of his strong opposition to Israelhe had repeatedly criticized Hezbollah for muting its attacks against Israel. But it is unlikely that he or his followers took an active part in the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah because of the continuing tensions between Hezbollah and the Tufayli faction, as well as the active and continuous Lebanese Army presence around Brital.407 None of those killed in the air strike was a known supporter of Shaikh Tufayli or Hezbollah. None of the individuals interviewed told Human Rights Watch about the presence of any other fighters.
Killing of 39 Civilians, Chiah (Southern Beirut), August 7
At 8:10 p.m. on August 7, Israeli warplanes fired at least four missiles at three multi-level apartment buildings in the Chiah neighborhood of southern Beirut, which had not been previously attacked during the conflict. The Chiah neighborhood was overflowing with refugees who had escaped from other parts of southern Beirut considered to be more dangerous because of their association with Hezbollah, and from southern Lebanon. The attack was one of the deadliest of the war, killing at least 39 civilians. According to one resident, Israel did not drop any leaflets prior to the attack warning the civilians to leave the area.408
According to multiple witnesses, Israeli drones had been flying over the Chiah neighborhood all day on August 7. According to several witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch, several shots were fired from an automatic rifle shortly before the attack, either because of a local dispute or because some men decided to fire at the Israeli drone. The Chiah neighborhood is not a Hezbollah stronghold, and did not house Hezbollah fighters at the time of the attack. Experienced fighters would have been unlikely to fire ineffective automatic rifles at a distant drone, as the drones are too high in the sky to be hit by automatic rifle fire.409 Shortly after the gunfire in the neighborhood, Israeli missiles struck.
Even if the gunfire drew the drone missile attack, the Israeli forces were obliged to minimize civilian harm by not causing civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage. The drone footage taken during the day would have shown that the neighborhood was packed with civilians, unlike the almost abandoned parts of Dahieh that Israeli warplanes had previously subjected to daily bombardment. Given the crowded neighborhood and the small risk posed by the ground fire, Israel would need to show that its missile attacks could be expected to bring a significant military gain.
The missiles demolished two multiple story homes and severely damaged a third, killing many of the displaced persons who were sheltering in the basements of the buildings. The 39 civilians confirmed killed in the strike (ages provided where available) were: Ghazaleh Hussain `Awada Nasser al-Din; Ahmad Hassan Kanj, 14; Rida Nimer Nasser al-Din; Fatima Ahmad Wehbi, 22; Muhammad Fadi Wehbi, 2; Muhammad Abdullah Taha, 31; Abdullah Muhammad Taha, 1; Jamil Hussain Rmeity, 60; Mustafa Hussain Rmeity, 45; Muhammad `Ali Rmeity, 21; Na`im Merhi Rmeity, 68; `Ali Na`im Rmeity, 30; Riham `Ali Rmeity, 4; Sa`adiyya Hussain Rmeity, 55; Ibtisam Hussain Rmeity, 41; Maryam Hussain Rmeity, 43; Malak `Ali Rmeity, 14; Fatima `Ali Rmeity, 18; Fatima Mustafa Youniss, 80; Sobhia Kamil Bilun, 43; Kawthar Jamal Rmeity, 20; Hussain `Ali Errai, 16; Zahra Mahmud al-Abdullah, age one; Zainab Mahmud al-Abdullah, five; Fatima `Abbas Shehade, 30; `Ali Ahmad Mohsen; and Hussain Ahmad Mohsen. Dalal Muhammad Sheaito; Hana Ibrahim Hatoun Nasser al-Din; Salwa Khalil Nasr; Wa`ed `Ali Wehbi; Hussain `Ali Wehbi; `Ali Ibrahim Wehbi; Hassan `Ali Wehbi; Suzanna Tah; Racha `Ali `Abbas; Hussain `Ali `Abbas; Suzanne Abdullah `Abbas; and Maya Said Yatim Rmeity, 26. All of the victims were buried as civilians, and none has been claimed as a fighter or martyr by Hezbollah.410
The IDF did not issue any statement on the Chiah attack.
Killing of 10 Civilians, al-Ghaziyeh, August 8
The day after Israeli air strikes killed 16 people in al-Ghaziyeh, more air strikes took place on the town, including air strikes during the funeral procession for those killed the day before. In three separate incidents, another 10 civilians were killed.
At about 3 p.m. on August 8, Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at the home of Mahmud Khalifa, 38 (unrelated to Amin Khalifa, the Hezbollah leader from the same town), the owner of the towns main pharmacy. Mahmud had just closed his pharmacy for the day and had returned home. The attack killed seven people: Mahmud, his wife Ibtisam Dawood, 30, and their three children, Hussain, age 10, Fatima, five, and Ahmad, two; and the parents of Ibtisam: Mahmud al-Dabul, 75, and Abdi Muhammad Nasrallah, 70 (both buried in their home village of `Ainata).
Mahmud Khalifa is the only member of the family who is buried with Hezbollah honors (including a nickname, Fazim), and who is claimed as a martyr. His coworkers at the pharmacy acknowledged that he was a town-level political member of Hezbollah, but said that he was neither a fighter nor otherwise involved in Hezbollahs military operations during the 2006 war. Most Hezbollah officials evacuated their families from their homes in anticipation of IDF attacks; Mahmud Khalifas decision to remain in his home with his family and keep his pharmacy open suggests he did not consider himself a target for attackevidence that he was not an active Hezbollah military official at the time.
Around the same time, Israeli missiles fired from either drones or helicopters struck the funeral procession for the victims killed the day before, as well as a second private graveyard owned by the Khalifa family. Ibrahim Khalifa, the owner of the shops that were bombed in the village square the day before (and brother of local Hezbollah official Amin Khalifa), recalled: We were in the cemetery, and they attacked us there first. We were carrying the coffins to bury them, and missiles fell on us; three missiles fell near us. Nobody died that time, but they also bombed another cemetery, and a small girl, Malika, was killed there.411
A pregnant woman, Khadija Hujeizi, 25, was standing on the balcony of her fathers home, located at the edge of the second cemetery, holding her daughter. She watched her father and husband running back from the funeral procession after the missile strikes. Suddenly, an Israeli missile fired from a helicopter struck less than two meters away, gravely injuring her and her fetus (she lost the fetus soon after the attack). Her two-year-old daughter Malika died in her arms.412 According to Khadija, there was no Hezbollah presence in or near the house.
About one hour afterwards, at 4 p.m., four Israeli missiles demolished the homes of Rida and Ahmad Khalifa, who were brothers of Hezbollah leader Amin Muhammad Khalifa (whose national-level role in Hezbollah was summarized above, in the case study of the August 7 air strikes on al-Ghaziyeh). According to Ibrahim Khalifa, another brother, neither was a Hezbollah member. At Ridas home, all six members of the family survived the air strike. Those in Ahmads home were not as lucky: Ahmad, 67, an Australian-Lebanese dual national and a welder, and his wife Ibtisam al-Areibeh, 51, were instantly killed. According to his brother Ibrahim, One of our brothers [Amin] is in Hezbollah; he is a leader in Hezbollah. Because of one brother in Hezbollah, they targeted our whole family. But his house was never hit. Amin was not in town when the attacks took place, and he does not have a house next to where the attacks took place on our family. Amin told all of his neighbors to leave the neighborhood, and he himself left on the first day of the war.413
Killing of Six Civilians and One Hezbollah Member, Mashghara (Beka` Valley), August 9
At 2 a.m. on August 9, an Israeli air strike demolished an inhabited home in the southern Beka` village of Mashghara, killing seven civilians. Earlier that night, Israeli warplanes began bombing the roads around the village at about 10:30 p.m., cutting off all access roads. Muhammad `Amar, 21, who lived in the house next door, recalled to Human Rights Watch what had happened that night:
The attack killed seven people: Hassan Sader, 47, an employee at the local electricity office; his wife Zainab Al-Sayyid, 39, a schoolteacher; his mother Zainab Sader, 71; his aunt Fatima Sader, 70; his brother `Ali Sader, 38, a farmer; `Alis pregnant wife Nadia Qasim, 35; and a visiting French-Lebanese dual national relative, Muhammad Deeb Sader, 43.
While some original press accounts of the attack claimed that Hassan Sader was a local Hezbollah official, Human Rights Watch did not find any evidence of this. 415 One of those killed, Muhammad Deeb Sader, was buried as an ordinary Hezbollah member, but without military honors.416 Villagers denied that he was a fighter and noted that he had been living in France for 12 years and had just come back.417
Killing of Five Civilians, Rabb al-Talatine, August 10 (date unknown for 5th victim)
On August 10, Israeli war planes destroyed a home in the village of Rabb al-Talatine, located on the Israel-Lebanon border, some 25 kilometers south of the coastal city of Tyre, killing four women. According to a local official, the women had stayed in the village to look after their familys livestock and then became trapped when the bombardment and ground fighting became too fierce. One of the women, Fatima Barakat, 31, was wounded by shrapnel during an earlier strike. An Israeli air strike killed her and the three other women while they were trying to move her to a different house. The four women killed were Fatima, her mother Khadija, 66, her grandmother Naife, 81, and their relative Amsha Hammud, 84. No Hezbollah fighters died in the attack, and there is no indication they were present around the home at the time of the attack. In all likelihood, the women were spotted by Israeli surveillance while they were moving the wounded woman and attacked because of this movement. All of the victims were buried as civilians.418
A fifth elderly woman, Fatima `Ali Fakih, 62, also died during the bombardment of the town, although the date of her death is unknown. During the conflict, she was staying with relatives but returned home to check on things. After the war, her body was found inside her demolished home.419
Killing of Five Civilians, Borj al-Shemali, August 13
At 3:50 a.m. on August 13, an Israeli war plane fired a missile at a home in Borj al-Shemali, demolishing the structure and killing five sleeping civilians inside. `Abbas `Ali Zain, 43, a tractor driver who lost his wife and three children in the attack, explained that he had moved his family to his father-in-laws home because his own home was located near orange groves at the outskirts of the village, and there had been repeated Israeli air strikes on the groves. When the strike hit the home, he recalled, I didnt hear anything, I just woke up to everything falling on me.420
Those killed in the attack were `Abbass first wife, Zainab `Ali Tawila, 37; his sons Abdullah, 16, and Zain al-Abadin, 13, and his daughter Wafa, 10, who, he recalled bitterly, was born on the last day of the 1996 war, and died on the last day of the 2006 war. Also killed was the Sri Lankan maid of the family, Raniya Josef, 27.421 All are buried as civilians in Borj al-Shemali (except the Sri Lankan maid, who was buried in a Christian cemetery in Tyre).
None of the people inside the home was Hezbollah-affiliated, and the family members were political supporters of the Amal party. Im a peaceful person, I have nothing to do with fighting, `Abbas told Human Rights Watch.422 It remains unclear why the home was attacked. There was no Hezbollah activity in or in the vicinity of the home at the time of the strike, and no weapons were stored in the home.
Killing of 36 Civilians and Four Hezbollah members, Imam Hassan Building Complex, Rweiss (Southern Beirut), August 13
At 2:35 p.m. on August 13, Israeli war planes mounted one of the largest air strikes of the war on the Imam Hassan building complex in the Rweiss neighborhood of southern Beirut, a mostly Shi`a area previously untouched by Israeli bombing raids. The Imam Hassan Building complex consisted of eight 10-story buildings with three apartments on each floor, housing some 240 families. The attack involved an estimated 20 missile strikes on the housing complex, and destroyed it, killing at least 40 persons.
According to a local shopowner who was present at the time of the attack, the electricity had come back on at about 2 p.m., and many of the residents of the building complex had gone up to to check on their apartments, shower, collect food items, and then return to the shelters in a neighboring school and a shoe factory. Many of the families knew the UN Security Council had imposed an end to the fighting the next day, August 14, and had bought cleaning products to clean their apartments in anticipation of the end of the war.423 Without warning, Israeli air planes mounted multiple raids on the complex, collapsing the multi-story buildings on the residents. Eighteen-year-old Hassan al-Tirani returned to the complex to find his building destroyed, his father buried in the rubble. When it happened, I came home right away, he told Human Rights Watch. I cant describe to you how I felt. Your home, your friends, your parents you come and you dont find anything left. We lived here for 12 years.424
Almost all of the victims were civilians, including many women and children who had returned to clean their homes. The strike also killed a low-ranking local Hezbollah military official, `Ali Hassan Kdouh, who lived in the building complex (his tomb identifies him as a Hezbollah martyr leader), as well as three low-ranking Hezbollah members who happened to be visiting the complex: Muhammad Harb, `Ali Charara, and Muhammad Charara.425 It is unknown whether the three low-ranking Hezbollah members played any military role in Hezbollah.
It is unlikely that Israel would have launched such a massive strike to kill such low-ranking Hezbollah officials. More likely, it had faulty intelligence that senior Hezbollah leaders were present at the complex, or that the complex had underground bunkers to hide senior Hezbollah officials. A Hezbollah official told Human Rights Watch that they believed a non-Hezbollah Lebanese minister had passed on false information to Israel, via the US embassy, that senior Hezbollah leaders were gathered at the complex, a charge Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm or disprove.426 After the attack, Israel claimed to have killed a senior Hezbollah official, Sajad Dawir.427 But this official appeared after the war to confirm that he was still alive. And in any event, the killing of a single Hezbollah official could not have justified targeting a civilian complex with the attendant and predictable large civilian toll. There is no evidence that senior Hezbollah officials were present at the complex, and Human Rights Watch did not find any evidence of underground bunker structures during an inspection of the site on October 30, 2006.
The people killed in the attack have been indentified as follows (ages provided where available): Hussain Ahmad Kassam Terhini, Abu `Ali, 45; Fatima al-Shami, 50; Ahmad Marzouk, 20; Hisham `Abd al-Razak; Hassan Makki, 32; wife of Hassan Maki, name unknown; his children, `Ali Hassan, under 12; Sarah, under 12; Maryam, under 12; Laila Rachid Chahrour; Nancy Ahmad Ghadar, 15; Yehya Ahmad Ghadar, infant; Issa al-Tirani Abu Ahmad, 62; Hajj `Ali Nur al-Din, 40; his wife, Randa, in her forties; their children Yasir, 18; Hussain, 17; Ibrahim, 13; Asmahan Muhammad Fakih; Muhammad `Ali Farhat, 40; Ahmad `Ali Kassem; Khadija Mahmud Kassem; Hussain Ahmad Kassem, an infant; `Ali Hassan Kdouh, Krayem, in his forties, (buried as a Hezbollah Martyr Leader); Mahmud Hussain; Muhammad Harb (a Hezbollah member); `Ali Charara (a Hezbollah member); Muhammad Charara, 23, (a Hezbollah member); Muhammad Chebib Mahmud; Muhammad Hassan Farhat, in his seventies; Mahmud Muhammad Farhat, in his thirties. Several others are known to have died but their bodies were never recovered: Muhammad Mouaness (Abu Ghassan), 57; his son Hassan, 32; Rif`at Nassif Nasrallah, in his thirties; Yousif al-Hajj, Abu `Ali, in his fifties; Sa`adeh Chahrour; Ahmad Terhini; `Ali Koudsi; Mustafa Fneich; and Muhammad Haidar.428
Killing of Six Civilians, Brital (Beka` Valley), August 13
Following the unexpected August 7 air strike on Brital that killed nine people, many families fled their homes and sought safety with relatives. Five families totaling 24 persons, including 12 children, sought safety in the home of `Ali Hussain Mazlum, 70, the owner of a furniture factory. Among those who sought safety at his house was his son-in-law, the head of the Brital municipality, `Abbas Isma`il. The house had nothing to do with Hezbollah, so we thought we were completely safe, `Abbas Isma`il recalled to Human Rights Watch, It was a nice house with a big yard for the children to play in.429
At 11:15 p.m. on August 13, a single missile fired from an Israeli war plane destroyed the two-story home. `Abbas Isma`il told Human Rights Watch:
The attack killed six people: `Ali Hussain Mazlum, 70, the owner of the house; his sister Fatima, 58; his daughter-in-law Zainab Muhammad Shmeiss, 36; her daughters Alaa, 18, and Fatima, 6; and Ammar `Uthman, 30, a displaced person from Baalbek who had sought safety in Brital.431 The attack wounded 18 others, three of them so seriously that they were still receiving medical treatment one month after the attack. All of the dead were buried as civilians.
`Abbas Isma`il and other municipal officialswho had no Hezbollah, Amal, or other religious symbols in their offices, unlike many other Shi`a municipal offices in Lebanonsaid there was no Hezbollah or any other military presence in the village at the time of the attacks. They explained in detail the 1998 dispute with Hezbollah and the Lebanese authority that had led to the demilitarization of the village and the location of a permanent Lebanese army checkpoint at the entrance of the village. I would not have placed myself and my children in danger if there were any Hezbollah activities nearby, `Abbas Isma`il explained, During the war, I went on [Lebanese] television to tell people that our village was safe, and we welcomed displaced persons . There is no operative existence of Hezbollah in our village, and we did not allow anyone to bring weapons to our village because we didnt want to be in danger.432
B. Attacks on Vehicles and Fleeing Civilians
Killing of Twenty-three Civilians Fleeing Marwahin, July 15
On July 15, an Israeli strike on a convoy of vehicles containing civilians fleeing from the Lebanese border village of Marwahin killed twenty-three people, including 14 children and seven women (two of whom were pregnant).433 Because of the high death toll and the accusations against Israel, the United Nations, and Hezbollah about their respective roles in the incident, Human Rights Watch carried out a detailed investigation. Some of the information contained below has already been discussed above in the chapter on Hezbollah violations during the war, but is repeated here for the sake of completeness of the narrative.
Marwahin is a Sunni village located on the border with Israel. The village is not a Hezbollah stronghold. According to the villagers of Marwahin, they began having problems with Hezbollah fighters and weapons infiltrating their village almost as soon as the war started. One witness described how two Hezbollah fighters, one dressed in military camouflage and a second in civilian clothes, came to Marwahin on July 12, the day of the abduction of the two IDF soldiers, and began scouting the village. An Israeli helicopter was overhead, looking for Hezbollah fighters. Zahra Abdullah, 52, one of the women who later died in July 15 Israeli strike, shouted at the fighters to leave, saying that if the helicopter spotted them, it would attack the village.434
The Hezbollah fighters ignored her, returning later that day with a white van packed with weapons, and parking it next to the village mosque, where it remained until it was destroyed by an Israeli strike.Unknown to the villagers, Hezbollah had also placed a large cache of rockets and other weapons in the home of a villager who was sympathetic to Hezbollah, and whose name is known to Human Rights Watch.435 Following the war, Human Rights Watch researchers found both the destroyed van and the destroyed weapons cache in the home, both still carrying the remains of rockets, rocket propelled grenades, and other weaponry.
On July 15 around 7 or 8 a.m., Zahra spotted three Hezbollah fighters carrying weapons and rockets behind her home, hiding the weapons in blue blankets. She again confronted the fighters, telling them, Please, there are children inside this home. One of the Hezbollah fighters turned his automatic weapon on her, and told her to shut up and go inside. Zahra returned to her home, crying.436
Around the same time that Zahra confronted the Hezbollah fighters, the Israeli army ordered the villagers (in Arabic) to immediately evacuate the village, using loudspeakers attached to the Israeli transmission towers located along the border.
According to Salih Ibrahim Ghannam, who was in phone contact from Beirut with those in Marwahin that morning, the villagers tried to seek safety at a nearby post manned by the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL):
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan later acknowledged that UN officials refused assistance to the Marwahin villagers, but denied responsibility for subsequent events, saying that those who were killed later that day in an Israeli strike were unrelated to the group that approached the UN for protection: Contrary to what was reported in the media, these were not the same civilians who had approached UNIFIL for shelter previously.438
However, Human Rights Watchs investigations established that some of those who died were indeed part of the group who had been rebuffed by the UN officials at the observation post. Others who died were also waiting for the UNs response, even though they had not gone to the UN post themselves. Wissam Abdullah, a 15-year-old survivor of the strike, explained to Human Rights Watch that the whole village was waiting to hear what the response of the UN observers would be: Some people decided to go to the UN position and walked there. We waited at the central square of the village. There were many people there waiting, waiting for an answer [from the United Nations]. Then people came back and they said, The United Nations will not take us.439 His father, Muhammad, who was not in the village at the time but remained in constant cellphone contact with his relatives, gave a similar timeline in a separate interview:
It is possible that the UN officers had explicit orders not to allow civilians to seek shelter at their base during times of active hostilities, orders that the UN had implemented after an Israeli attack on the UNIFIL barracks in Qana in 1996 that killed over 100 civilians sheltering there.441 The UN should investigate whether UN officers on the scene could have taken action that would have better protected the civilians, given that a number of members of the larger group died in the ensuing Israeli attack.
Confronted with Hezbollah militants in their town, ordered to evacuate immediately by Israel, and unable to find protection with the United Nations, a group of civilians packed into a convoy of three vehicles to flee their village: `Ali Abdullahs white Daihatsu pickup had 27 people, `Ali Seifs brown Mercedes had six people, and a blue Mercedes whose owner is unknown contained an unknown number of people. The passengers in all three vehicles waved white flags to make sure the Israelis didnt mistake them for Hezbollah fighters. The convoy first drove to the neighboring village of Umm al-Tut; there, they waited for an hour to see if a car that had gone ahead of their convoy had made it to Tyre safely. When they received a cellphone call telling them that the car ahead of them had safely reached Tyre, they decided to proceed.442 The blue Mercedes split off from the convoy at this point and took a different road.
As the two remaining cars reached the coast just before Bayyada, on a bluff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the pickup truck overheated and broke down. The convoy could hardly have taken a worse place to stop; an Israeli gunship was located just offshore, and the Israeli Navy had been placed on high alert for attacks against their ships. Just the evening before, Hezbollah had stunned the Israeli Navy by attacking one of their most advanced gunboats, the IDF missile ship Ahi Hanit, with a C-802 Silkworm anti-ship cruise missile, killing four IDF sailors and crippling the ship. The C-802 is a 715-kilogram laser-guided missile, a sophisticated weapon, and its use took the IDF by surprise.443
The sudden appearance of two parked vehicles, including a pickup truck, in line of sight of another Israeli warship the morning after this attack probably caused the Israelis to assume the broken-down civilian convoy was another Hezbollah missile firing team preparing to attack their ship, notwithstanding the white flags on the cars (which may not have been visible from the ship.)
`Ali, the driver of the pickup truck, ordered the children to get out of the back of the pick-up so that the Israelis would realize they were civilians (some of the passengers were at this point too tired to get out of the truck). After the drivers desperately tried to restart the pickup for about seven minutes, a missile suddenly struck the cab of the pickup, killing `Ali and his elderly mother. Two survivors told Human Rights Watch that they believed the Israelis ship offshore fired the first missile at them, but the accuracy of the strike and the relatively limited damage caused suggests that an unseen Israeli drone overhead might have fired it instead, as there was little likelihood of a dead-on strike on the truck from the ship.444 The initial strike wounded many of the children and women in the convoy, but they survived and attempted to crawl to safety.
One survivor, 15-year-old Wissam Abdullah, described how after that first attack, an Israeli Apache helicopter appeared and now attacked the fleeing civilians, firing at least four missiles at them and spraying them with machine-gun fire:
Humanitarian law requires that warring parties take constant care in the conduct of military operations to minimize harm to civilians. Not only must they do everything feasible to verify that targets are military objectives, but once it becomes apparent that the target is not a military objective, they must do everything feasible to cancel or suspend an attack.446 Thus even if the IDF had a justifiable basis for the initial attack on the vehicles (and it is far from clear that the IDF should not have been seen the civilian nature of the vehicles using visual enhancing devices), the IDF should have halted the helicopter attack as soon as it was apparent that the target was not a military objective.
The attack left 23 people dead: `Ali Abdullah, the driver of the car, 60; his mother, Sabha Hassan Abdullah, in her eighties; San`a Abdullah, 35 (who was pregnant); Zahra Abdullah, 52, the mother who had confronted the Hezbollah fighters repeatedly, died with two of her children: Hadi Abdullah, age six, and Mirna Abdullah, 13; Muhammad `Ali Abdullah, 17, Zahras son-in-law; five siblings: `Ali Kamel Abdullah, 15; Hussain Kamel Abdullah, 13; Hassan Kamel Abdullah, 12; Muhammed Kamel Abdullah, 10; Lama Kamel Abdullah, eight; Muhammed Ghannam, 45, his wife Suha Ghannam, 35 (who was seven months pregnant), and their six children: Qasim Ghannam, 17; Mustafa Ghannam, 15; Hassan Ghannam, 14; Zainab Ghannam, 10; Fatima Ghannam, nine, and Duha Ghannam; and Maryam Ibrahim Abdullah, 27. Two additional persons died in the brown Mercedes: Latifa Abu Hawle, in her sixties, and Fawziyyeh Abu Hawle, 75.447 Four children survived the strike on the pickup truck, and four adults survived the strike on the brown Mercedes.
All of the persons killed in the attack were buried as civilians. Angry residents from Marwahin clashed with Hezbollah representatives who tried to attend the funeral, arguing that they were partly to blame for the deaths. In the words of Muhammad Abdullah, who lost his wife Zahra and two children in the attack: I hold everyone responsible for the deaths of my family: the United Nations, Israel, and Hezbollah.448
About two hours after the attack, Lebanese ambulances reached the scene and evacuated some of the wounded and dead. Later, UNIFIL retrieved an additional 16 bodies from the scene and stated that their medical teams came under fire during the rescue operation.449 A photographer for an international news agency arrived at the scene approximately two hours after the attack, after the Lebanese ambulances and before UNIFIL, and told Human Rights Watch that he found a white pickup truck and a passenger car completely destroyed, and counted sixteen bodies at the scene, many of them children.450 There was no evidence of any Hezbollah presence either in the vehicles attacked or at the scene where the attack took place.
Killing of Three Civilians, Sheem, July 16
At about 10 p.m. on the evening of July 16, an Israeli warplane targeted five transport trucks parked in an open area operating as an informal truck stop between the Sunni Muslim villages of Shmeiss and Sheem. The villagers at the truck stop specialized in truck repairs, and all five of the trucks had their cargo area uncovered and were unloaded. Human Rights Watch researchers inspected the destroyed trucks during a site visit on September 23, and found no evidence to suggest that any military cargo was being carried by the trucks, such as evidence of secondary explosions. According to the residents, who are Sunni Muslims unaffiliated with Hezbollah, the five trucks were simply commercial vehicles that had been parked there and had no connection to Hezbollah.
The initial air strike destroyed the five trucks and the main road and sprayed a neighboring residential apartment building with shrapnel. The shrapnel and broken glass wounded at least 28 of the residents there, including two who had serious injuries: Munifa Darwish, 70, and her Sri Lankan maid, Malika. Neighbors quickly evacuated the two, and a neighbor, Samir Ahmad Abdullah, 42, put them in his car to take them to the hospital. Another relative accompanied them in a separate car.
As they left the apartment building in his car, about 10 minutes after the initial attack, the Israeli warplane returned and attacked again, this time firing a missile close to the vehicle. The strike killed Samir, Munifa, and Malika. The relative in the other car survived the attack with massive injuries and remained hospitalized at the time of Human Rights Watchs visit to the site two months later.451
Killing of Five Civilians Smuggling Fuel in Beka` Valley, July 19
During the night of July 18-19, at about 3 a.m., Israeli drones struck three separate vehicles smuggling fuel along the Syrian-Lebanese border. The Lebanese smugglers, all of them Sunni Muslims with no links to Hezbollah, had traveled to the Syrian border over dirt mountain roads to fill up large fuel containers on their pick-up trucks with diesel, which was in short supply following Israels imposition of a total air, sea, and land embargo on Lebanon. Five people died in the drone strikes.
At about 3 a.m., an Israeli drone struck a pickup truck with a container of smuggled diesel as its driver was unloading the diesel at a gas station in the village of Ham, having just returned from the Syrian border. The strike killed two brothers in the truck, Faidullah Mustafa, 27, and Shahid Mustafa, 23.452 Around the same time, an Israeli drone struck two pickups loaded with smuggled diesel driving on a mountain road between the Syrian border and the Lebanese village of Maaraboun, killing all three persons in the vehicles: Diab Yahya, 27, his cousin Muafaq Yahya, 32, and their neighbor Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad, 40.453 All of the victims were unaffiliated with Hezbollah.
Civilians transporting fuel unconnected to any fighting are not directly participating in hostilities and thus cannot be subject to direct attack.454 While fuel can be a valid military objective, and thus a legitimate target of attack, it would need to be shown not only that the fuel could effectively support the adversarys military operations, but that its destruction offered the attacker a definite military advantage.455 There was no evidence that the fuel in these incidents was being or would have been used for military purposes, as it was delivered to civilian fuel stations in Sunni villages.
Killing of Six and Wounding of Eight Civilians Fleeing `Aitaroun, July 19
Villagers began fleeing `Aitaroun, a village located just one kilometer north of the Israel-Lebanon border, after two major IDF strikes there killed 12 civilians on July 16 and another nine civilians on July 18 (see above). As explained by one of those who fled in a convoy, Husam Haidar: After the second massacre, we got really scared. It became difficult to come and go. The owner of the gas station insisted on leaving. I had received calls from relatives in Beirut to leave.456
On July 18, a three-car convoy left `Aitaroun at about 3 p.m. and safely reached the Chouf mountains surrounding Beirut, a mostly non-Shi`a area that was virtually unaffected by the bombing. The next morning, another three-car convoy left `Aitaroun at about 8 a.m. with 16 people, flying white flags.
As the convoy drove between Bazouriye and Hosh, just on the outskirts of the coastal city of Tyre, an Israeli drone attacked them. Husam Haidar, a teacher who was in the third car in the convoy, told Human Rights Watch:
Four people inside the first car died: Sa`id Hamze `Abbas, in his fifties; Fatima `Abbas, 45; Sara Wasef `Abbas, age one; and `Aliya Mansur, 45. The two other passengers were wounded but survived. A second car in the convoy was also hit, killing the driver Ghassan Fakih, 35, and wounding two passengers. Husams mother Laila Haidar, also killed in the attack, was 67. The four other passengers were severely hurt.
There was no Hezbollah presence in the convoy, according to one of the survivors, herself gravely wounded in the attack: There were no fighters in the cars, no weapons, just civilians trying to escape.458 She said there was no Hezbollah presence in the area where they were attacked: There was nothing around the area where we were attacked, only fruit orchardsno people and no fighters, it was an empty area.459 Husam Haidar told Human Rights Watch:
The IDF has not given any explanation for the attack or any information regarding any Hezbollah activity in the vicinity of the convoy at the time of its attack.
Killing of Three and Wounding of 14 Civilians Fleeing al-Tiri, July 23
Heavy Israeli bombardment in al-Tiri, located between Bint Jbeil and Tibnine, had trapped 49 members of the extended Sh`aito family in a single home since the beginning of the war. Running out of food, the family decided to leave the village after hearing evacuation orders from the IDF. On July 21, the family contacted the Lebanese Red Cross for assistance with evacuation, but the Red Cross was unable to reach the village. On July 22, 32 family members, including most of the children present in the house, packed into a jeep and two cars, leaving 17 family members behind without transportation. The first convoy made it safely to Tyre.
On July 23, the remaining family members convinced a taxi driver to take them to Tyre in a van, paying US$1,000 for the drive. The family waved a large white flag outside the van, and many of the family members held smaller white cloths, to indicate their civilian status.461
As the van passed Kafra, it was hit by an Israeli strike. Musbah Sh`aito, who was sitting next to the driver but survived, told Human Rights Watch: I heard a noise like a blown tire, and the van started swerving. I told the driver to slow down, and he said, Weve been hit! The van stopped, and the driver and I got out. As the driver was calling on me to help get the wounded out, a second missile hit the car.462 Apparently an Israeli drone, unseen in the sky, fired the missiles.
Three persons died in the missile attack: Nazira Sh`aito, about 70; her son Muhammad Amin Sh`aito, 53; and the familys Syrian janitor, Zakwan [family name unknown], in his mid-forties. Their bodies remained in the vehicle after the attack until the 48-hour ceasefire because recovery teams could not reach the area for days after the incident. The attack wounded the 14 other family members, including several who required extensive hospitalization.
According to Musbah Sh`aito, When we were hit, there was no one aroundno resistance [Hezbollah], nothing. The only person we saw on the road was a wounded driver by the side of the road, asking for help.463 Passengers driving through an area would not necessarily know whether Hezbollah fighters were generally active in the area. However, the IDF has not offered any explanation for the attack or any information regarding Hezbollah activity in the vicinity of the van at the time of its attack.
Killing of Two and Wounding of Four Civilians Fleeing Mansouri, July 23
The Srour family, which resides in Germany, was vacationing in the seaside village of Mansouri, 10 miles south of Tyre, having arrived two days before the fighting in Lebanon began.464 On July 23, the family attempted to travel in a three-car convoy to Tyre, waving white flags, to evacuate to Germany. At about 10:30 a.m., an Israeli helicopter or drone fired at the vehicle some four kilometers south of Tyre, near the village of Ma`liye. Darwish Mudaihli, 38, the hired driver of the car, died instantly, as did his brother-in-law, Muhammad Srour, 36. The car caught on fire with the bodies of Darwish Mudaihli and Muhammad Srour inside.
Muhammad Srours children, Ahmad, age 15; `Ali, 13; Mahmud, eight; and eight-month-old Maryam were severely burned during the attack and were evacuated to Germany for specialized medical treatment. There was no sign of Hezbollah military activity or weapons in the vicinity, relatives of the victims familiar with the circumstances of the attack told Human Rights Watch, and no one in the family had any connections to Hezbollah.465 The IDF did not offer any explanation for the attack or any information regarding any Hezbollah activity in the vicinity of the van at the time of its attack.
Wounding of Nine Civilians Fleeing Mansouri, July 23
Shortly after the attack on the Srour family (above), an Israeli Apache helicopter hit a second civilian car in the same area. Zain Zabad, a 45-year-old fruit farmer, had also driven up from Mansouri, attempting to evacuate his wife and four children. On the way, the family picked up a man who had been wounded when an air strike hit his car in Qlaile, and two more wounded people in Ma`liye (the same area as the Srour attack), who were hit by an Israeli helicopter strike while riding a motorcycle. `Ali Ja`far, a 21-year-old day laborer who was injured in the strike on his motorcycle, told Human Rights Watch:
Subsequently, a munition fired from an Israeli Apache helicopter struck Zain Zabads car just 40 meters from the Najem hospital, wounding all nine persons inside.467 The attack on the Zabad family took place within sight of the Najem Hospital. The IDF did not offer any explanation for the attack or any information regarding any Hezbollah activity in the vicinity of the car at the time of its attack.
Wounding of Six Ambulance Drivers and Three Patients, July 23
On July 23, at 11:15 p.m., Israeli forces attacked two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances in Qana, almost certainly with missiles fired from an Israeli drone flying overhead.
The ambulances, which had Red Cross flags illuminated by a spotlight mounted on the ambulance, were transferring three wounded Lebanese civilians from one ambulance to the other when the missiles struck. Some websites subsequently claimed that the attack on the ambulances never happened and was a Hezbollah-orchestrated hoax.468 In response, Human Rights Watch researchers carried out a more in-depth investigation of the Qana ambulance attacks and issued a separate report on its findings.469 The information below summarizes the main findings of Human Rights Watchs investigation:
At about 9:30 p.m., Israeli forces fired artillery shells near the Tibnine home of Ahmad Fawaz, 41, a car mechanic. The attack injured five members of the Fawaz family: Ahmad Fawaz; his twin sons Muhammad and Ali, 13; his wife Fatima; his mother Jamila, 80.470 All five were transferred to the Tibnine hospital, where they received first aid. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., the Tibnine Hospital asked the Red Cross to prepare to transfer the three most seriously woundedAhmad, Muhammad, and Jamilato Tyre for further treatment.
The Lebanese Red Cross officials in Tibnine made contact with their counterparts in Tyre; they decided to dispatch a second ambulance from Tyre to meet the Tibnine ambulance mid-way in Qana to take the wounded so that the Tibnine ambulance could return to its base.
The ambulance crews interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that both ambulances were clearly marked and identifiable as ambulances from a great distance. Painted white, they had large red crosses painted on their sides and roof. They each had a large Red Cross flag attached to the roof, illuminated by a spotlight mounted on the roof. The ambulances also had a piercing, flashing blue light designed to be visible at a great distance, even at night. The ambulance personnel confirmed that they had left their lights and sirens on during the entire operation, as standard procedure.471
The two ambulances arrived in Qana around the same time and parked close to each other in the central square. The ambulance crews quickly transferred the three wounded from the Tibnine ambulance to the Tyre ambulance. As one of the Red Cross members was closing the back door of the Tyre ambulance, a missile most likely fired from an Israeli drone struck the rear of the roof of the ambulance that was now holding the wounded.472
The missile traveled from the roof of the Tyre ambulance through the gurney on which Ahmad Fawaz was strapped, severing his leg, and then through the floor of the ambulance deep into the pavement of the road. Ahmad Fawaz recalled to Human Rights Watch that he was knocked unconscious by the first attack, but soon awoke to realize he had lost his leg:
Muhammad received additional shrapnel wounds to his chest and head from the attack on the ambulance, and Jamila sustained serious shrapnel wounds.474 All of the ambulance workers managed to run away from their vehicles and sought shelter in a nearby building.
Minutes later, a second missile, again most likely from an Israeli drone, hit the Tibnine ambulance right through the middle of the Red Cross emblem on its roof. The ambulance crews stayed in the basement of the building for an hour and 40 minutes. At 1:15 a.m., a new ambulance crew from Tyre finally managed to reach Qana and evacuate the wounded patients and ambulance crews.
International humanitarian law provides that medical transports used exclusively for medical transportation must be respected and protected at all times. They lose their protection only if they are being used outside their humanitarian function to commit acts harmful to the enemy.475 There is no basis for concluding that Hezbollah was making use of the ambulances for a military purpose, and Human Rights Watch is not aware of any allegations by the IDF or in the media that Lebanese ambulances were misused for military purposes during the 2006 war.476
Killing of One Civilian Traveling to Buy Food, Supplies, and Medication, July 24
On the morning of July 24, Hassan Ibrahim al-Sayyid, a 26-year-old man from the village of Beit Leef, was killed when an Israeli helicopter or drone fired on him while he was driving his motorcycle. Hassans sister, Husen al-Sayyid, told Human Rights Watch that Hassan had left his village to buy food, candles, and medication from a neighboring village for his brother, who was receiving dialysis treatment.477 The weapon hit Hassans motorbike on the road between Kafra and Siddiquine. According to his sister, Hassan was not a member of Hezbollah. Hassans corpse was transferred to Tyres public hospital after the attack.478 Human Rights Watch was unable to determine whether he was later buried as a civilian or as a martyr. The IDF did not issue any statements about this attack.
Killing of Seven Civilians, Marja`youn Convoy, August 11
Marja`youn, a large, mostly Christian town located south of the Litani River and six miles north of the Galilee panhandle, was largely spared the impact of the war. According to Karim Michel Rached, the mukhtar of Jdeidet Marj`ayoun, one of the neighborhoods of the city, local security officials had reached an agreement with Hezbollah, largely abided by, to stay out of the city during the war.479 Another villager from Jdeidet Marja`youn told Human Rights Watch: When the war started, it was between Hezbollah and Israel. We stayed in our homes. There is no Hezbollah here, because they dont have supporters. The closest Shi`a village is five minutes away by car. We were reassured that Israel would not target us, and so we stayed in our homes.480
However, according to a number of local residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch, members of the Syrian Nationalist Party fought against Israeli commandos who landed in Marja`youn near the end of the war, ignoring the objections of local residents who feared that the town would be bombed in retaliation.481 On the evening of August 9, Israeli commando forces landed in Marja`youn and began an operation to take control. Fighters from the Syrian Nationalist Party briefly confronted the Israeli commandos, but then abandoned their positions inside the village after coming under Israeli fire. The Israeli shelling wounded several residents. By August 10, the Israeli commandos had taken firm control of Marja`youn, and the local officials, anticipating fierce fighting between the Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah fighters (who called off their earlier commitment not to enter Marja`youn following Israels invasion of the town), worked with the local Lebanese Army commander, Colonel `Adnan Daoud, to organize a large-scale evacuation of the village. A local official explained the decision to evacuate:
Colonel `Adnan Daoud, working through the Lebanese Armys Directorate of Intelligence and UNIFIL intermediaries, contacted the IDF to seek safe passage for a convoy to evacuate the civilians as well as his Lebanese Army soldiers and Internal Security Forces (i.e. police) from Marja`youn. According to all of the Lebanese officials and civilians interviewed by Human Rights Watch, as well as UNIFIL official statements, the convoy obtained permission from the Israeli authorities before proceeding north. A statement issued by UNIFIL after the incident confirmed that [a]t the request of the Lebanese government, UNIFIL was in contact with the IDF to facilitate the withdrawal of the Lebanese Joint Security Forces from Marja`youn [on August 11]. Israeli forces informed UNIFIL that they agree[d] to such a request.483 After the incident, the IDF issued a statement that it had received the request, but had not authorized it: It is important to note that a request for the passage of the convoy was submitted to the IDF coordination apparatuses prior to its departure and was not authorized.484
Human Rights Watch believes that the IDFs claim that it had not authorized the movement of the convoy is implausible. Lebanese authorities and UNIFIL kept the convoy waiting for hours while they sought Israeli authorization for its passage, and, according to both the Lebanese authorities and UNIFIL, let it proceed only after they obtained the Israeli authorization. During the conflict, UNIFIL had set up a regular channel of communication and standard operating procedures with Israeli authorities to seek authorization for its movements, and it is extremely unlikely that UNIFIL would have violated these procedures by agreeing to escort an unauthorized convoy.
As word of the convoy spread, hundreds of civilian cars gathered from Marja`youn as well as from the villages surrounding Marja`youn. By the time the convoy departed around 4 p.m. on August 11, it consisted of at least 87 vehicles of Lebanese Joint Security Forces (JSF), 10 vehicles of Lebanese Internal Security Forces, and several hundred civilian vehicles, stretching for miles along the road.485 Two UNIFIL armored personnel carriers led the convoy until it departed out of UNIFILs area of operations in southern Lebanon and then continued without UNIFIL escort.486 The Lebanese army deployed its personnel along the route to direct the massive convoy to safety.
At about 10 p.m., the front of the convoy came under fire from Israeli drones in the area of Kefraya, in the Beka` Valley. Laila Najem, who was wounded in the attack, recalled what happened to Human Rights Watch:
Mukhtar Karim Michel Rached recounted to Human Rights Watch how he lost his wife in the attack:
The attack killed six or seven people:489 the wife of the mukhtar, Colette Ibrahim Makdissi, 51; Elie Salameh, 45; Michel Jbayleh, a Lebanese Red Cross volunteer who was struck while assisting the wounded;490 Khaled Abdullah; and Kamil Tahtah. It injured at least 32 others.
Following the attack, the IDF issued a statement explaining that it had:
The IDF response is inconsistent with the facts on the ground. By its own admission, the IDF had received a request for the passage of the convoy (although it denies giving authorization). Moreover, the IDF had an obligation under the laws of war to do everything feasible to ensure that the targets attacked were a military objective. The fact that IDF was on notice that a large civilian convoy was heading north from Marja`youn, coupled with the observation of such a large convoy, with many civilian cars flying white flags and heading north, was a clear basis for canceling the attack.
Killing of Two Lebanese police and Five Lebanese Army Soldiers, Jamaliyeh Road (Beka` Valley), August 14
On the morning of August 14, just hours before a UN-imposed ceasefire came into effect, a white civilian van left from the Beka` Valley villages north of Baalbek, heading towards Beirut. Inside the van were three Internal Security Services police officers, two civilians, and eight members of the Lebanese Army. The police and army officers were all on their way to their duty stations in Beirut. One of the police officers, Rabi` `Abbas al-`Attar, 27, who was wounded in the attack and lost his brother, `Ali `Abbas al-`Attar, 32, also a police officer, explained to Human Rights Watch why they had decided to travel to work before the formal ceasefire came into effect: We were waiting for the ceasefire, but we didnt hear any planes in the sky and we saw that people were moving [driving] on the road, so we decided it was safe to move and go to work.492
As the van reached Jamaliyeh, just outside Baalbek, they found the road damaged by an earlier Israeli air strike, and turned off on a little dirt road around the destroyed section of roadway. At about 6:05 a.m., an Israeli drone fired one missile into the van, killing seven persons inside: Hussain Qabbar, Lebanese Army sergeant; Nabih Sallum, Lebanese Army sergeant; `Ali `Abbas al-`Attar, Internal Security Force sergeant; Ibrahim Haidar, Lebanese Army; Rashid al-Mukdad, Internal Security Force officer; Michel Abboud, Lebanese Army; and Hussain Nasr al-Din, Lebanese Army. The missile wounded the other six persons in the van, including the driver, Muhammad al-Helani, who lost a leg.493
Insofar as Israel was a war with Lebanon, Lebanese army soldiers are combatants under international humanitarian law. However, because the Lebanese army did not take a direct part in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, any attack on them that caused harm to civilians or civilian objects would almost necessarily be considered a disproportionate attack. Police personnel are normally considered civilians, but if taking part in military operations they can lose their civilian status.
C. Civilian Casualties During Attacks on Infrastructure
Israel conducted numerous attacks against non-residential infrastructure during the armed conflict, including commercial buildings, roads, and bridges. For instance, Israel destroyed an estimated 107 bridges and overpasses throughout Lebanon, justifying these attacks as necessary to impede Hezbollah movement of personnel and rockets.494 These attacks killed and wounded numerous civilians.
Under international humanitarian law, civilian infrastructure such as bridges are considered dual-use facilitiesand can be targetedif they directly contribute to the war effort and their destruction offers a concrete military advantage. Attacks on dual-use facilities are bound by the same prohibitions on indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks as attacks on purely military targets. Because dual-use facilities often have significant civilian functionsan electrical plant may supply electricity to a large populationthere can be particular concern that their destruction will cause harm to civilians far in excess to the anticipated military gain and thus be disproportionate. And a warring party remains under an obligation to choose means of attack that avoid or minimize damage to civilians.
Killing of Five Civilians, Borj al-Shemali, July 16
At noon on July 16, an Israeli air strike targeted an empty building formerly used as a soap factory in Borj al-Shemali, located on the outskirts of the southern port city of Tyre. The massive explosion destroyed the building and struck several neighboring homes, causing five civilian deaths in a home located just next to the factory.
Fifteen members of the Zayyat family were inside their apartment next to the factory, watching television and sitting around talking. We were not too worried because the Israelis said they wouldnt target civilians, one family member recalled. When the missile struck five meters away from the home, the apartment of the Zayyat family collapsed: Within a second, everything in our apartment fell on our heads, we all ended up with mostly head wounds. Five walls were just ripped away; the only things remaining were the [reinforced] pillars.495 The attack killed five members of the family, all of them women or children: Rukaya `Awada, 70, the matriarch of the family; her daughter Hanan Ramiz Zayyat, 45; her daughter-in-law Hanan `Ali Zayyat, 33; her grandson Hadi Zayyat, 14; and her granddaughter Reham Atwi, 10. Another daughter, Nouha Zayyat, 34, remained in a coma with severe head wounds two months after the attack and was not expected to recover when Human Rights Watch visited.496 Nine other family members were also seriously injured.
The Zayyat family is certain that the abandoned soap factory was empty and that Hezbollah was not using it as a weapons storage facility: No one was storing weapons inside or even using the building, Haidar Zayyat told Human Rights Watch, explaining that the factory had been empty for years and that the family had not noticed any movement in or out of the building that might have suggested it was used as a weapons storage facility. The family blamed Israels use of extremely powerful weapons in a densely populated area for the deaths: They were targeting a soap factory that had not been operating for three years. If they wanted to target the factory, they should have limited their attack, because there were civilian homes nearby.497
Killing of One Civilian during Air Strike on al-Ghaziyeh Bridge, July 17
At about 9 a.m. on July 17, Israeli warplanes bombed the al-Ghaziyeh highway bridge, located just south of Saida on the coastal highway. The strike killed Zuheir Muhammad al-Baba, 58, a leatherworker and father of five children. Zuheir had gone to Saida to ask his brothers for some money and was on his way back to al-Ghaziyeh when the bridge was hit, burning him to death in his car.498 There was no Hezbollah presence on or near the bridge, so the bridge itself was the probable target of the attack. He was buried as a civilian in Saida.
Killing of Twelve Civilians during Attack on Rmeileh Bridge, July 18
On July 18, Israeli air strikes destroyed the Rmeileh Bridge, located on the main coastal highway about four kilometers north of Saida. The air strike also hit a van and a Mercedes whose passengers were trying to flee to safety in Beirut, killing all 12 passengers in the cars. Nine civilians from Deir Qanoun al-Nahr died in the van: Mustafa `Ez al-Din, 48, a real estate salesman, his wife Ibtisam Zalzali, 43, and their two children, Ibrahim, 14, and Musa, 12; Abdullah Hariri, in his forties; Deebe Zalzali, 38, and her two children Muhammad and Darin, ages unknown; and Kifah `Aseileh, in his forties. Three civilians also died in the Mercedes, but their names and ages are unknown to Human Rights Watch.499 According to their relatives, all of those who died in the van were civilians, and are buried as civilians, not Hezbollah martyrs.500
Following the strike, the bodies from the van were taken to the Southern Medical Center in Saida. Based on the appearance of the bodiesblackened corpses with hair and skin intacta Belgian-Lebanese doctor, Bachir Cham, accused Israel of having used chemical weapons, saying that the victims were black as shoes, so [Israel] definitely is using chemical weapons.501 Lebanese Health Minister Muhammad Khalifa later confirmed that the Lebanese authorities had sent samples from the bodies to foreign laboratories for testing.502 The tests came back inconclusive. However, there is almost no chance that a chemical weapon would have been used in the particular attack that killed the 12 victims at Rmeileh bridge. The target of the attack was a reinforced concrete bridge, and chemical weapons are useless against such a target.
Killing of 11 Civilians during Attack on al-Hayssa Bridge (northern Lebanon), August 11
On the early morning of August 11, Israeli warplanes launched a number of attacks against bridges and roads in northern Lebanon, attempting to cut the roads between Syria and Lebanon (they had cut roads and bridges leading to Syria from the Beka` Valley earlier in the conflict, leaving only the access roads to Syria through northern Lebanon).
At about 4:40 a.m., an Israeli warplane fired a missile at the al-Hayssa bridge, located in northern Lebanon on the `Akkar highway leading to the Syrian borderpost at al-Abboudiye. The bomb destroyed the bridge, but sprayed shrapnel throughout the small village of al-Hayssa, wounding a number of people. Many villagers, awakened by the explosion, rushed to the area of the destroyed bridge after hearing screaming from wounded persons in nearby homes.
Ten minutes after the initial attack, at about 4:50 a.m., the Israeli warplane returned and carried out a second raid on the bridge. Mehsin Yasin Ma`la, 42, whose son died in the attack, recalled to Human Rights Watch what happened:
The second bombing raid killed 11 civilians, and wounded many others. Those killed were: `Ali Muhammad Mehsin, 45; `Abd al-Karim `Ali Melhim, 48; `Ali Muhammad Melhim, 32; Fadi Muhammad Melhim, 25; `Ali Mehsin Melhim, 19; `Ali Muhammad Akumi, 25; Rashid Mahmud Hassan, 50; `Ali Hassan Mneimeh, 40, Ma`la Mehsin Ma`la, 16; `Ali `Abud Jrayssy, 36; and `Ali Sulaiman Ma`la, 42. Dozens of others received shrapnel wounds, and three villagers were seriously wounded: one teenager lost his arm, another 13-year-old lost a leg, and a 40-year-old farmer lost his arm.504
The air strike was evidently aimed at the bridge, not at any Hezbollah presence in the village (which is composed of Sunnis and followers of the minority `Alawite interpretation of Shi`a Islam). The second strike on the bridge raises concerns that the IDF should have anticipated that, after the first strike, civilians would have rushed to the bridge to assist the wounded. By attacking again almost immediately, the IDF failed to take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian casualties.
D. Deaths from Artillery Strikes
Human Rights Watch did not fully investigate the use of artillery by the IDF in the 2006 conflict. However, almost everywhere Human Rights Watch researchers traveled in southern Lebanon, evidence of artillery strikes was visible on roads, fields, orchards, and inside villages themselves. Almost every house in many villages within artillery range of Israel (or Israeli positions inside Lebanon) bore evidence of artillery strikes on its exterior walls. While civilian casualties from shelling appears to have been far less than from air attacks, we examined a number of such cases.
Killing of Two Children, Rmeish, July 19
During the conflict, many residents from Shi`a border villages fled to neighboring, non-Shi`a villages. In the case of the village of `Aita al-Sha`abthe Lebanese village closest to the place where Hezbollah captured the two IDF soldiers, and the scene of some of the fiercest fightingmany of the civilians fled immediately to nearby Rmeish, a predominantly Christian village.
The Christian Salem family had 26 displaced persons from `Aita al-Sha`ab staying at their home in Rmeish, in addition to the six members of the Salem family itself. Their neighbors had a similar number of displaced persons, all of them civilians from `Aita al-Sha`ab, the vast majority women and children.505
At 1 a.m. on July 19, the neighborhood of Rmeish in which they lived, near the center of the village, came under intensive Israeli shelling. At least six 155mm artillery shells hit the Salem house, and four penetrated inside the room where the children of the displaced people were sleeping. Two siblings were killed by the explosions: Zainab Salah Jawad, 7, and her brother Qawsar Salah Jawad, 4.
According to the Christian owner of the house, there were no Hezbollah members inside the home, and the neighborhood was a Christian one that did not support Hezbollah.506 While the Salem family did not notice any firing from around their part of the village, they told us that some villagers had told them that something was fired from the neighborhood but Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm this.507
Killing of Two Civilians in `Aitaroun, July 21
In many villages in southern Lebanon, elderly persons often remained behind during the war, in part because they were unable to move easily, or they preferred risking death in their homes to the humiliations of being displaced. In one such case in `Aitaroun, five elderly persons ended up remaining: Maryam Muhammad Tawbe, 70; her 98-year-old blind mother, `Aliyeh Mustafa; her nieces Maryam Mustafa Tawbe, 65 and Atife Tawbe, in her fifties; and her uncle `Ali Tawbe, 85.
At about 7 p.m. on July 21, the house they were sheltering in came under a heavy barrage of Israeli 155mm artillery shells, which exploded against the wall of the house as well as in the garden surrounding it. The legs of Maryam Mustafa Tawbe, 65, were sheared off by shrapnel, and she bled to death immediately after the attack. Shrapnel also hit `Ali Tawbe, 85, in the chest; he survived only until the next morning. Atife Tawbe and Maryam Muhammad Tawbe received serious shrapnel wounds to their legs, but survived without any access to medical treatment until after the end of the fighting. For the next eight days, the three surviving women lived with the decomposing bodies of their two relatives, unable to leave the home because of the heavy shelling and bombardment of the town, until help was able to reach them during the 48-hour ceasefire. 508 According to the survivors, there was no Hezbollah presence in the home when it was shelled.509
Killing of One Civilian, Yatar, July 26
Abdullah Qaik, 82, was unable to flee his native village of Yatar because he had been bedridden and unable to walk since a fall one year earlier. During the war, his wife remained in the village to look after him, but spent most of her time in a safer shelter located some 200 meters from their house. On July 26, she left her husband at 3 p.m. When she returned an hour later, an artillery shell had exploded close to the house, and her husband had bled to death from shrapnel and broken glass wounds to his legs from the explosion. He was buried as a civilian.
According to the wife, there were no Hezbollah fighters in the shelter or near her home, but she had seen Hezbollah fighters inside the village: The shabab [Hezbollah fighters, literally the youth] would sit on the verandas of certain houses. They also stayed in two or three houses in the village where they slept. They came and took the radio from our house during the war.510 The mixing of Hezbollah fighters with the civilian population clearly endangered the civilian population of the village, and may have contributed to the artillery strike that killed Abdullah Qaik.
Killing of One Civilian, Arzun, July 29
On July 29, heavy Israeli artillery shelling hit the village of Arzun, located about nine kilometers east of the coastal city of Tyre. Artillery shells fell all over the village in an indiscriminate nature, according to one of the villagers, There was no military objective [in the shelling.] The whole village was being struck indiscriminately.511
At about 11 a.m., one of the shells hit the home of 82-year-old Ibrahim `Abdo Turmus, who was bedridden and unable to flee during the war, killing him instantly. The same shell also injured his son Hassib Turmus, 36, and `Ali Mughniyyeh, 22, a neighbor, who had come to the house to look after and feed Ibrahim Turmus.512
Hezbollah fighters were present in the village during the attack, and had taken over a school building in the village.513 Neither Ibrahim nor his son and neighbor were affiliated with Hezbollah but were instead civilian supporters of Amal.
The IDF did not issue a statement on this attack.
E. Shooting Deaths by IDF Ground Forces
IDF military operations in Lebanon were not limited to artillery, air, and naval bombardment. From the early days of the conflict, Israeli commandos and ground forces operated on Lebanese territory, confronting Hezbollah fighters on the ground in Lebanon and attempting to seize control of a significant number of villages and towns in southern and south-eastern Lebanon.
Human Rights Watch research established that the ground fighting, not the bombardment, in Lebanon was the deadliest part of the conflict for both Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah fighters. At least 104 of the total 119 Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict died in ground combat inside Lebanon. Similarly, Human Rights Watch research found that the vast majority of Hezbollah fighters killed in the conflict were killed either in firefights with Israeli ground forces, or by close air support (mostly Israeli drones and helicopers) accompanying Israeli ground forces.
Despite the weeks of fierce ground combat, Israeli forces gained only a precarious foothold in Lebanon. In the border regions of Maroon al-Ras, Bint Jbeil, and `Aita al- Sha`ab, Israeli forces failed to gain effective control despite weeks of fighting and massive destruction of those border villages.
In the course of its research, Human Rights Watch regularly encountered evidence that Israeli soldiers had used, and often vandalized, civilian homes in the villages and towns they fought in. Human Rights Watch found homes that Israeli soldiers had temporarily occupied, as evidenced by the presence of discarded Hebrew food packages and Israeli military supplies, in `Ainata, Hadatha, Haris, `Aita al-Sha`ab, and Taibe. Such use is not improper under humanitarian law. However, the owners of homes occupied by Israeli soldiers during the conflict often complained of vandalism, offensive grafitti, and wanton destruction carried out by the Israeli soldiers. Visits by Human Rights Watch to a number of these homes confirmed this. Humanitarian law prohibits destruction of private property, except when required by imperative military necessity, and pillage.514
On at least two occasions, Israeli ground troops appear to have unlawfully shot and killed Lebanese civilians. In each case, the Israeli soldiers implicated in the killing were not engaged in hostilities at the time, should have been able to identify the Lebanese they shot as civilians, and faced no apparent threat from those individuals.
Shooting of One Civilian, `Ainata, July 27
During late July, Israeli soldiers took up a position in the home of `Abbas Khanafer in `Ainata, located near the Israeli border between the villages of `Aitaroun and Bint Jbeil, and based themselves on the upper floors of the three-story building. `Abbas Khanafers mother, Badriyyat Khanafer, and his two sisters, Maryam and Taghrid Khanafer, remained in a neighboring building that also belonged to the family, but the men of the family decided to move out of the area, afraid the Israeli soldiers would mistake them for Hezbollah fighters. According to Badriyyat Khanafer and her daughter Taghrid, the Israeli soldiers knew that there was a group of women living in the building next door (about twenty meters of gardens and fields separate the two homes), as the women would start screaming whenever the Israeli soldiers opened fire on targets.515
On July 27, at about 10 a.m., 65-year-old Badriyyat and her daughters had gone to the basement of the home occupied by the Israeli soldiers to fetch some cooking materials, and had returned to the next-door home without problem. They did not know that Israeli soldiers had taken refuge in the house. In the early afternoon, Maryam Khanafer, 36, decided to return again to the basement and first floor of the Israeli-occupied home to fetch her one-year-old daughters portable toilet. Her mother explained to Human Rights Watch, I told her not to go, but she said, My daughter is dying to go to the bathroom, and said shed be right back.516 Maryam wrapped a white sheet around her to indicate her civilian status and left.
Maryam Khanafer made it safely into the home and found her daughters toilet. On her way back, in the middle of the open garden and field separating the two homes, the Israeli soldiers fired at least three bullets at her from the upper floors of the building, killing her instantly. Her mother recalled:
Maryams body remained at the entrance of the home until the Red Cross came to collect it several days after her death.
The apartment occupied by the Israeli soldiers had been partially cleaned and repaired by the time of Human Rights Watchs investigation of the incident, but the refuse left behind by the Israeli soldiers outside the homelarge amounts of Hebrew-language food containers, Israeli army supplies, and cigarettesleft no doubt that Israeli soldiers had been inside the building for an extended period.
The available evidence suggests the shooting of Maryam Khanafer was a deliberate and unlawful killing of a civilian. Israeli soldiers shot Maryam Khanafer from a relatively close distance from which they should have easily identified her as a civilian, wrapped in a white sheet, and carrying a childs portable toilet. While it is unclear whether there were any attacks on the IDF position in the `Ainata home prior to the shooting, there was no hostile fire at the time of the attack. The IDF has not commented on this case. The troubling circumstances of this case require a full and impartial investigation, and those responsible for the killing should be held accountable for their actions.
Shooting of Four Civilians, Taibe, August 6
Four members of the Nasrallah familyAhmad `Ali Nasrallah, 81; his wife Muhsina `Ali Jumaa, 83; their son Hussain Ahmad Nasrallah, 54; and their daughter Nazha Ahmad Nasrallah, 58had moved to the basement shelter of their neighbor Said Hussain Nehle, 76, in the town of Taibe, located near the Israeli border some 40 kilometers east of Tyre.They remained there for about one week until they decided to go check on their home and bake some bread to eat on the morning of August 6. (The Nasrallahs have no relation to the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah is a common family name in Lebanon).
According to Nehle, there was still heavy artillery and missile fire taking place around Taibe when Muhsina and Nazha left to go check on their home, located about 100 meters away from Nehles home, at about 11 a.m. When the two didnt return by noon, Ahmad asked Hussain to go check on them. At about 12:30 p.m., when none of them had returned, Ahmad himself left his neighbors home to go find out what happened: Ahmad put on his hat and left, about half an hour after his son left, Nehle recalled to Human Rights Watch.518
None of his neighbors returned that day, and Nehle spent the evening alone in his basement. The next morning, when the bombardment briefly eased, Nehle decided to go to the Nasrallahs home to see what was happening. He described to Human Rights Watch what he saw:
According to Nehle and a surviving son of the family, they found Nazha on the patio at the top of the stairs; Muhsina and Hussain at the bottom of the stairs; and Hassan in the garden just to the right of the patio, probably fallen there by the force of the explosion that killed him.520
Human Rights Watch conducted a detailed inspection of the home. The property consists of a large home, with an attached smaller adjacent apartment on the left front side. In front and on the right side of the large home there is a wrap-around patio that extends to the adjacent apartment, and is reached by stairs on the right side. Human Rights Watch found evidence that Israeli forces had occupied the house and adjacent apartment; they had left behind a large amount of IDF army provisions and Hebrew-language food containers and cigarettes, as well as Israeli bullet and grenade cartridges with Hebrew markings. They had also damaged much of the furniture in the house, and used it to fortify their position.
The forensic evidence examined by Human Rights Watch at the scene suggests that the Israeli soldiers shot the four members of the Nasrallah family from positions inside the small apartment adjacent to the main house. All of the bullet and grenade impact rounds were located on the wall of the front of the main house, along the patio, and the empty bullet casings were located by the windows of the small apartment, indicating that the bullets were fired from inside the small apartment in the direction of the family members on the patio and the steps.
The empty bullet and grenades found at the scene were all Israeli-manufactured. Human Rights Watch found an impact crater caused by a 40mm grenade round fired by the M203 grenade launcher that attaches to the standard M16 assault rifle, which probably caused the mutilation injuries to the body of Ahmad, as well as several empty 40mm grenade cartridges with Hebrew markings. The bullets found at the scene were all standard 5.56mm ammunition for the M16 rifle, and 7.62mm bullets for the heavier Negev SAW rifle.
Significantly, Human Rights Watch found no evidence that the Israeli soldiers had ever been attacked during their occupation of the Nasrallah home. The only bullet scars on the building were focused around the immediate area where the family died, and there was not a single bullet scar on any other part of the building indicating incoming fire. A careful search of the property did not locate any evidence of an attack on the building, either during the time the family returned or at any other time.
The investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch strongly suggests that the shooting deaths of the family members were unjustified and unlawful. From the close distance at which the Israeli soldiers shot the four civilians deadless than five metersit must have been clear to them that they were shooting at elderly civilians, not combatants. All four of the victims were unarmed, and there is no evidence of an attack on the Israeli soldiers. The troubling facts of this shooting incident demand an independent and impartial investigation of the soldiers involved, and accountability for those responsible.
196 Sam Ghattas, Lebanon sees more than 1,000 war deaths, Associated Press, December 28, 2006.
197 Scott Wilson, Israeli War Plan Had No Exit Strategy: Forecast of Diminishing Returns In Lebanon Fractured Unity in Cabinet, Washington Post, October 21, 2006. See also David Makovsky and Jeffrey White, Lessons and Implications of the Israel-Hizballah War: A Preliminary Assessment, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, October 2006, p. 46.
198 Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmad Roz, Beirut, July 22, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Roz, Beirut, July 22, 2006.
199 Human Rights Watch interview with Qassim Muhammad Zain, Baflay, September 15, 2006.
200 Ibid. The body of Munir Zain was never recovered from the site, and is believed to have been totally destroyed in the attack.
202 Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmad Roz, Beirut, July 22, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Roz, Beirut, July 22, 2006.
203 According to the Erlich report, 13 rockets were fired from within village houses in Baflay, 19 from within 200-meter radius of the village and 20 within a 500-meter radius. Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, Hezbollahs use of Lebanese civilians as human shields: the extensive military infrastructure positioned and hidden in populated areas. From within the Lebanese towns and villages deliberate rocket attacks were directed against civilian targets in Israel (November 2006), Appendix 4 (hereinafter, the Erlich report). Note however that the report does not detail the date or the exact location of these attacks during the war.
204 Human Rights Watch interview with Fatima Musa, Beirut, July 22, 2006.
205 Human Rights Watch interview with Fadia Mahmud Sa`id, Srifa, September 18, 2006.
207 IDF Spokesperson, Summary of IDF operations against Hizbullah in Lebanon, July 13, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terrorism+from+Lebanon-+Hizbullah/IDF+operations+against+Hizbullah+in+Lebanon+13-Jul-2006.htm.
208 Human Rights Watch interview with Fatima Musa, Beirut, July 22, 2006.
209 Human Rights Watch interview with Samih Baydun, Beirut, July 26, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Baydun, Beirut, July 26, 2006.
210 The father and brother of Shaikh Akash refused to be interviewed by Human Rights Watch without the presence of Hezbollah and municipal officials, and told Human Rights Watch researchers to leave when they questioned the family about the activities of Shaikh Akash.
211 See Jon Lee Anderson, The Battle for Lebanon: Has Israels Assault Weakened Hezbollahor Made it Stronger, New Yorker, August 7 and 14, 2006. Anderson quotes an unnamed young man who approached him outside the destroyed seminary and told him that Hezbollah had kept bombs in the basement of the mosque, but that two days [prior to the attack] a truck had taken the cache away. The man later shows his hostility to Hezbollah, stating that everyone wants to end this Hezbollah regime, but nobody can say anything. Human Rights Watchs own investigation into the alleged use of the mosque for the storing of Hezbollah rockets did not confirm the unnamed mans allegations, and there are substantial reasons to doubt his account. Saida is a predominantly Sunni town that generally does not support Hezbollah. The seminary itself is bordered by a technical college run by the Hariri Foundation, which is also predominantly Sunni and a voice in favor of Hezbollahs disarming. Given the location of the seminary in such a hostile location, it is doubtful that Hezbollah would have risked using it to store weapons, since it had access to many other storage facilities in less hostile areas. See also, Hamza Hendawi, Israel Targeting Hezbollah Infrastructure, Associated Press, July 26, 2006.
212 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Zain, head of Shhour municipality, Shhour, September 18, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Muhammad, rescue worker, Shhour, September 18, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Laila Hamid Khashab, Shhour, September 18, 2006.
213 Human Rights Watch interview with Laila Hamid Khashab, Shhour, September 18, 2006.
214 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Shhour, September 18, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Shhour, September 18, 2006.
215 Human Rights Watch interview with Laila Hamid Khashab, Shhour, September 18, 2006.
216 Human Rights Watch interview, (name withheld), Shhour, September 18, 2006.
217 Human Rights Watch interview (name, place, and date withheld, on file at Human Rights Watch).
218 Human Rights Watch interview with Darwish Bzeih, Zebqine, September 15, 2006.
220 Human Rights Watch interview with Lebanese human rights activist who requested anonymity, July 25, 2006.
221 Human Rights Watch interview with Darwish Bzeih, Zebqine, September 15, 2006.
222 Erlich report, Appendix 4. NGO Monitor cites the information that two rockets were fired from within village houses to discredit HRWs findings in Fatal Strikes. NGO Monitor, Amnesty and HRW Claims Discredited in Detailed Report,December 28, 2006. However, neither report provides any evidence to show that Hezbollah actually used the Bzeih home for military purposes.
223 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Yatar, October 23, 2006. The gravestone of Muhammad `Ali Suidan also identifies him as a Hezbollah fighter.
224 The gravestone of `Ali Muhammad Suidan also has Hezbollah insignia, but family members explained that although he was a Hezbollah supporter, he had never been involved in Hezbollah military activities and was not a fighter. Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Yatar, October 23, 2006. This information was independently confirmed by the deputy mayor of Yatar. Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain `Ali Musa Suidan, September 13, 2006.
225 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Yatar, October 23, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain `Ali Suidan, deputy mayor of Yatar, September 13, 2006.
226 Human Rights Watch interview with Jamal Sa`ad, Bint Jbeil, September 26, 2006.
227 Hajj is an honorific for those who have performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, and Abu Naji means father of Naji.
228 Human Rights Watch interview with Hashim Kazan, Beirut, July 23, 2006.
229 Human Rights Watch interview with (name withheld), Bint Jbeil, September 26, 2006.
231 Although both rescue workers were buried as Hezbollah members, villagers told Human Rights Watch that they were not Hezbollah fighters, but simply Hezbollah members who participated in the rescue efforts in civilian clothes, as members of Hezbollahs own civil defense structures, the Islamic Health Committee, which operate separately from the official Lebanese civil defense structures.
232 Human Rights Watch interview with Hashim Kazan, Bint Jbeil, September 26, 2006.
233 Due to a translation error, Human Rights Watchs earlier report, Fatal Strikes, identifies the family name incorrectly as Sulaiman instead of Slim.
234 Human Rights Watch interview with Ibrahim Slim, Houla, September 21, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Slim, Houla, September 21, 2006.
235 Human Rights Watch interview with Ibrahim Slim, Houla, September 21, 2006.
236 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Rizak, Beirut, July 22, 2006.
237 Erlich Report, Appendix 4. NGO Monitor cites the Erlich Reports finding that Hezbollah fired two rockets from within village houses to discredit HRWs quote in Fatal Strikes of a witness in Houla that said that that were no [Hezbollah] resistance in the town at the time. However, they provide no evidence to show that Hezbollah specifically used the Slim home for any military attack or that Hezbollah was firing from Houla that day. NGO Monitor, Amnesty and HRW Claims Discredited in Detailed Report,December 28, 2006, http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article.php?id=1132 (accessed April 3, 2007).
238 Human Rights Watch interview with relative (identity withheld for security reasons), Yatar, September 13, 2006.
239 Human Rights Watch interview with Deputy Mayor Hussain `Ali Musa Suidan, Yatar, September 13, 2006.
240 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali `Abbas `Alawiya, Tyre, November 16, 2006.
241 Human Rights Watch interview with Wail Marwan Shahin, Tyre, November 4, 2006.
242 Human Rights Watch interview with Haydar Hussain Mehanna, Tyre, November 4, 2006.
243 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali `Abbas Alawiya, Tyre, November 16, 2006.
244 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Rauf Gradi, civil defense official, Tyre, August 1, 2006.
245 Human Rights Watch interview with Zakaria `Alam al-Din, Beirut, July 22, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Muhsin, Beirut, July 22, 2006.
246 Human Rights Watch interview with high-ranking civil defense official, Beirut, July 28, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Zakaria `Alamadin, Beirut, July 22, 2006.
247 Human Rights Watch interview with Zakaria `Alamedin, Beirut, July 22, 2006.
248 Human Rights Watch interview with official in Tyre Public Hospital, August 1, 2006.
249 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Qadir Saif al-Din, head of municipality of Sham`a and Biyada, Sham`a, September 12, 2006.
250 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Rauf Gradi, civil defense official, Tyre, August 1, 2006.
251 A journalist who entered the building also told Human Rights Watch that he saw what he believed were human remains in the rubble of the collapsed top floors of the building.
252 Human Rights Watch interview with high-ranking civil defense official, Beirut, July 28, 2006.
253 Human Rights Watch interview with civil defense official, Tyre, August 1, 2006.
254 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abbas Ghorayeb, Tyre, November 3, 2006.
255 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Tyre, November 3, 2006.
256 See Protocol, articles 61-62.
257 Ibid, Art. 65.
258 Carrying out acts harmful to the enemy under cover of the protected status of civil defense is a war crime.
259 Human Rights Watch interview with high-ranking civil defense official, Beirut, July 28, 2006.
260 IDF Spokesperson, Summary of IDF operations in Lebanon for 16th of July 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terrorism+from+Lebanon-+Hizbullah/Summary+of+IDF+operations+against+Hizbullah+in+Lebanon+16-Jul-2006.htm (accessed April 4, 2007).
261 Human Rights Watch interview with Sikni Muhammad al-Akhrass, `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
262 Human Rights Watch interview with Manal Hassan `Alawiyya, Beirut, July 24, 2006.
263 Human Rights Watch interview with Sikni Muhammad al-Akhrass, `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
265 Human Rights Watch interview with Manal Hassan `Alawiyya, Beirut, July 24, 2006.
266 Human Rights Watch interview with Zakariya Muhammad `Abbas, Beirut, July 25, 2006.
267 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Hussain Mafouz, Beirut, July 25, 2006.
268 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
269 Erlich report, Appendix 4.
270 Israeli Foreign Ministry, PM Olmert speaks with Canadian PM Harper, press release, July 19, 2006, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2006/PM+Olmert+speaks+with+Canadian+PM+Harper+19-Jul-2006.htm (accessed April 26, 2007).
271 In its earlier report, Fatal Strikes, Human Rights Watch did not have information about Hezbollah firing from the area. A witness quoted by Human Rights Watch for that report stated, To my knowledge, Hezbollah was not operating in the area, but I cant be 100 percent sure because we were sleeping. There is a road near the house that Hezbollah could of course have used to move around, but it was late and we were asleep in the shelter. Fatal Strikes, pp. 24-25.
272 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
273 Human Rights Watch interview with Manal Hassan `Alawiyya, Beirut, July 23, 2006.
274 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
275 Human Rights Watchs earlier report, Fatal Strikes, dated the attack on July 20 in the afternoon, but further investigation and a visit to the village established that the attack took place on July 18 at 9 a.m. Earlier witnesses also misreported the ages of those killed, stating that `Ali Nabil was eight instead of 20. Human Rights Watch regrets the error.
276 Human Rights Watch interview with Sulhiyya `Abd al-Hassan Turmus, Tallousa, September 21, 2006.
277 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Tallousa, September 21, 2006.
278 Human Rights Watch interview with Munira Salih, Yatar, October 23, 2006.
279 Human Rights Watch interview with Zainab Muhammad Ayyoub, Sil`a, September 15, 2006.
281 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview with group of Sil`a villagers, September 15, 2006.
282 Human Rights Watch interview with Qassim Mustafa `Aid, Beirut, July 24, 2006.
283 Fatal Strikes, p. 25-26.
284 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Ibrahim Hamudi, Srifa, September 18, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Maryam Ahmad Haider and Amin Habib Dakrub, Srifa, September 18, 2006.
285 Human Rights Watch interview with Bushra Shukr, Nabi Sheet, September 11, 2006.
286 Ibid. The credibility of the witness was enhanced by the fact that she identified other attacks in Nabi Sheet as having a Hezbollah connection, including an IDF attack on an empty house owned by an uncle who had rented the home to Hezbollah.
287 Human Rights Watch interview with pro-Hezbollah businessman (name withheld), Nabi Sheet, September 11, 2006.
288 Human Rights Watch interview, Nabi Sheet (name and time withheld).
289 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Ahmad Darwish, `Ainata, September 20, 2006.
290 Human Rights Watch interview with Sahar Sameh Dakrub, `Ainata, September 20, 2006.
291 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Ahmad Darwish, `Ainata, September 20, 2006.
293 Human Rights Watch interview with Hamida Khaled, wife of Dawood Khaled, Debbine Marja`youn, November 4, 2006.
295 Human Rights Watch interview with Maryam Khaled, sister of Dawood Khaled, Beirut, July 26, 2006.
296 Erlich report, Appendix 4.
297 Human Rights Watch interview with Nami Ruda, `Aita al-Sha`ab, September 25, 2006.
298 `Aita al-Sha`ab is located on the Lebanon-Israel border, and was the village closest to the site of the July 12 Hezbollah operation that led to the abduction of the two IDF soldiers. The village saw some of the fiercest ground combat of the war between Hezbollah fighters and IDF ground troops. The reference to Hezbollah fighters being inside the village refers to this urban combat, not to Hezbollah rocket launching teams operating from inside the village.
300 Human Rights Watch interview with Nehme Rida, `Aita al-Sha`ab, September 25, 2006.
301 Human Rights Watch interview with Hezbollah militant, Zebqine, September 15, 2006.
302 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Shehab Shukr, Nabi Sheet, November 14, 2006.
303 Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain `Ali Shukr, Nabi Sheet, September 11, 2006; Human Rights Watch Interview with Muhammad Shehab Shukr, Nabi Sheet, September 11, 2006.
304 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview with Akram `Awada, head of Shehin municipality, September 12, 2006.
305 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Na`im Ghaith, Shehin, September 12, 2006.
308 Human Rights Watch interview with Rashad Ja`far, Yaroun, September 25, 2006; Human Rights Watch visit to Yaroun graveyard, September 25, 2006.
309 Human Rights Watch interview with Rashad Ja`far, Yaroun, September 25, 2006.
310 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Muanis, al-Hallousiye, September 16, 2006.
311 Human Rights Watch interview with Shaikh Muhammad Hamid, al-Hallousiye, September 16, 2006.
312 Human Rights Watch visit to al-Hallousiye graveyard, September 16, 2006.
313 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Muanis, al-Hallousiyye, September 16, 2006.
314 Human Rights Watch interview with Shaikh Muhammad Hamid, al-Hallousiyye, September 16, 2006.
315 Erlich report, Appendix 4.
316 Human Rights Watch interview with `Imad Sulaiman Ahmad, head of municipality, Haris, September 13, 2006; Human Rights Watch visit to Haris graveyard, September 13, 2006.
317 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview with Amal official, Haris, September 13, 2006.
318 Human Rights Watch interview with municipal official, `Ainata, September 20, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmad Khanafer, `Ainata, September 20, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Amina `Ali Ibrahim, `Ainata, September 20, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Taghrid Khanafer, `Ainata, September 26, 2006; List of civilians killed provided by `Ainata municipality to Human Rights Watch, September 20, 2006.
319 Sabrina Tavernise, A Girls Life Bound Close to Hezbollah, The New York Times, August 18, 2006.
320 Rogers, Law on the Battlefield, p. 49.
321 IDF, Laws of War in the Battlefield (IDF Military Law School, Department of international Law, 1998), p. 32.
322 UNIFIL, press release, July 26, 2006, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr010.pdf (accessed April 4, 2007).
324 United Nations Department of Information press release, Secretary-General Shocked by Coordinated Israeli Attack on United Nations Observer Post in Lebanon, Which Killed Two (sic) Peacekeepers, July 25, 2006, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sgsm10577.doc.htm (accessed April 4, 2007). The death toll of the attack was later raised to four.
325 IDF Spokesperson, Regarding the UN Post Near Al Khiam, July 26, 2006.
326 Ravi Nessman, Report: UN Observers Calls Unheeded, Associated Press, July 26, 2006.
327 Warren Hoge, UN Says it Protested to Israel for Six Hours During Attack that Killed 4 Observers in Lebanon, The New York Times, July 27, 2006; UN Press Center, Annan would have preferred joint probe with Israel into attack on UN postletter, July 31, 2006, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=19356&Cr=leban&Cr1= (accessed April 4, 2007).
328 UN Secretary Generals Spokespersons Office, Secretary-General Receives Report on Attack that Killed Observers at Khiam, Lebanon, September 29, 2006.
329 UNIFIL, press release, July 25, 2006, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr09.pdf (accessed April 4, 2007).
330 UNIFIL, press release, July 17, 2006, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr01.pdf (accessed April 4, 2007).
332 UNIFIL, press release, July 20, 2006, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr04.pdf, (accessed April 4, 2007).
333 See ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law, p. 112.
334 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, articles 8(2)(b)(iii) and 8(2)(e)(iii). Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute. The ICRC Customary International Humanitarian Law considers these provisions to be reflective of customary humanitarian law. See pp. 580 and 597.
335 Human Rights Watch interview with Ayyad Merhi, Kafra, October 23, 2006.
336 Human Rights Watch visit to Kafra cemetery, October 23, 2006.
337 Human Rights Watch interview with Ayyad Merhi, Kafra, October 23, 2006.
338 Erlich report, Appendix 4.
339 Human Rights Watch interview with Hajj `Abduljalil Salman Nasir, Hadatha, September 14, 2006.
340 Human Rights Watch visit to Hadatha cemetery, September 13, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Mukhtar Abd al- Amir Nasir, September 13, 2006.
341 Human Rights Watch interview with Hajj `Abduljalil Salman Nasr, Hadath, September 14, 2006.
342 Erlich report, Appendix 4.
343 Human Rights Watch interview with `Adnan Harake, al-Numeriyya, September 24, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with village official, al-Numeriyya, September 24, 2006.
344 Al-Jazeera interview with Dr. Issam Matuni, July 30, 2006.
345 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Mahmud Shalhoub, Qana, July 31, 2006.
346 Human Rights Watch interview with Ghazi `Aydaji, Qana, July 31, 2006.
347 Israel Halts Airstrikes After Qana Outrage, Agence France-Presse, July 31, 2006.
348 Israeli air strike kills 54, Sydney Morning News, July 30, 2006.
349 Ibid.; Dean Yates, Israel Regrets Qana Killing but Vows to Press War, Reuters, July 30, 2006.
351 Yoav Stern, Yuval Yoaz, and Amos Harel, Livni: Qana Attack Led to Turning Point in Support for Israel, Haaretz, August 1, 2006.
352 The two fighters were Hassan Hussain Shalhoub, 36, and Mahmud Ibrahim Hashim, 39. Villagers told Human Rights Watch that Hassan died fighting outside the village of Qana. A third Hezbollah fighter, Yusif Tiba, was killed fighting in the hills around Qana and was buried in a different Qana cemetery.
353 Muhammad `Ali Shalhoub told Human Rights Watch: Ali was not a fighter, he was in the basement with his family, and his father and brother died with him. He was not even an activist in Hezbollah, and he didnt have any military training. The fighters [killed] are recognized as such, we know who they are . Ali was not a Hezbollah fighter, but he was a strong supporter of Hezbollah so his friends covered his coffin with a Hezbollah flag. Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad `Ali Shalhoub, Qana, September 14, 2006. A second witness, the brother of one of the killed Hezbollah fighters from Qana, also told Human Rights Watch that `Ali was not a Hezbollah member or fighter: He was saying before he died, If I die, wrap me up in the flag of Hezbollah, that is why he had the Hezbollah markings on his tomb. Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Qana, August 18, 2006.
354 Human Rights Watch was unable to obtain a copy of the IDF flyer, but different witnesses gave similar accounts of its content. According to one witness, the leaflets stated that the IDF wanted to hit the village. Leave the village now, the leaflet said It said Hassan Nasrallah was worthless, and that we should go to the north because the village would be bombarded. It was addressed to the people of Luweizeh. Human Rights Watch interview with Rabah `Ali Hashim, al-Luweizeh, September 24, 2006. According to a second witness, the leaflets said to people to leave to the north of Luweizeh . The flyer said that those who stayed would be considered resistance, and that everyone should go north. Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain Farhat, al-Luweizeh, September 24, 2006.
355 Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain `Abdullah Farhat, al-Luweizeh, September 24, 2006.
356 IDF, Special Forces Raid in Baal-bek, August 3, 2006.
357 Human Rights Watch interview with Hajali Tlays, Director of Dar al-Hikma hospital, Jamaliyeh, September 8, 2006.
358 Ibid. According to the director: The management is independent in the same way as the [Hezbollah] Shahid Institute [the Shahid Institute provides aid to relatives of Hezbollah combatants that died fighting], but any financial decision goes back to Hezbollah. We dont take money for our services. Hezbollah nominates the board members, but we make the day-to-day decisions. Our hospital is for all people, not just Hezbollah members.
359 See, for example, First Geneva Convention, article 19; Fourth Geneva Convention, article 18; Protocol I, article 12. The IDF Laws of War in the Battlefield states: [I]t is prohibited to interferewith the administration of medical aid. This prohibition includes the ban on striking hospitals and medical facilities, whether civilian or military, as well as wound-collection sites, medical warehouses, ambulances, and so forth. p. 32 (emphasis in original).
360 See ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law, p. 96.
361 See Fourth Geneva Convention, article 19.
362 Human Rights Watch interview with Mukhtar Hussain Jamal al-Din, Jamaliyeh, September 8, 2006; Human Rights Watch phone interview with Mukhtar Hussain Jamal al-Din, October 27, 2006.
363 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Jamal Al-Din, Jamaliyeh, September 7, 2006.
364 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahmud Sukar, Jamaliyeh, September 8, 2006.
365 Human Rights Watch interview with Isma`il Khalaf al-Hammud, Jamaliyeh, September 8, 2006.
366 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahmud Sukar, Jamaliyeh, September 8, 2006.
367 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Deeb Nasrallah, Baalbek, September 8, 2006.
368 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Hassan Nasrallah, Baalbek, September 8, 2006.
369 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Deeb Nasrallah, Baalbek, September 8, 2006.
370 Human Rights Watch interview with Bilal Nasrallah, Baalbek, September 8, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Deeb Nasrallah, Baalbek, September 8, 2006.
371 Human Rights Watch interview with Bilal Nasrallah, Baalbek, September 8, 2006.
372 Ibid. (When I would ask about what will happen to us, they would say, You are here as hostages. If Hassan Nasrallah asks for you and exchanges you, you will be freed. Otherwise, you will stay here.)
373 IDF Spokesperson, Special Forces Raid in Baal-bek, August 3, 2006, http://www1.idf.il/DOVER/site/mainpage.asp?sl=EN&id=7&docid=55483.EN (accessed April 4, 2007).
374 John Kifner, What is in a Name? Not, It Seems, A Leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, The New York Times, August 23, 2006.
375 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), al-Jibbain, September 12, 2006. The municipal official told Human Rights Watch that there was a danger from unexploded ordnance in the area, but the repeated calls from the Hezbollah official to verify that the Human Rights Watch researchers were not proceeding to the attack site strongly suggests that evidence of Hezbollah weapons or a field position remained there.
376 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), al-Jibbain, September 12, 2006
377 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Muhammad `Akil, al-Jibbain, September 12, 2006.
378 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), al-Jibbain, September 12, 2006
379 Human Rights Watch interview with Mehieddin Muhammad Tohme, Director of al-Wifaq farm, al-Qa`, September 17, 2006.
380 Human Rights Watch interview with Mukhtar Mikhael al-Bcherrawi, Mukhtar of al-Qa`, Beirut, October 17, 2006.
381 Israeli Bombardment kills 40 Civilians in Lebanon, Reuters, August 4, 2006.
382 Human Rights Watch interview with Mehedin Muhammad Tohme, Director of al-Wifaq farm, al-Qa`, September 17, 2006.
383 Human Rights Watch interview with Menahil Moris Aoun, head of al-Qa` police department, al-Qa`, September 17, 2006.
384 Human Rights Watch visit to Taibeh Burial ground, September 25, 2006.
385 Human Rights Watch interview with daughter of Hani Marmar (name withheld), Taibe, October 24, 2006.
386 Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain Kazem, Taibe, October 24, 2006.
387 Human Rights Watch interview with Mukhtar Zakaria Hussain Safawi, Insar, September 16, 2006.
388 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview with Hala Zain Assi, Insar, September 18, 2006; Human Rights Watch visit to Insar cemetery, September 18, 2006.
389 Human Rights Watch interview with Hala Zain Assi, Insar, September 18, 2006.
390 Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain Yahya Nureddin, al-Ghassaniyeh, September 18, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with relatives of Hussain Haidar `Amer, Saksakiye, October 16, 2006; Human Rights Watch visit to al-Ghassaniyeh cemetery, September 18, 2006.
391 Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain Yahya Nuredin, al-Ghassaniyeh, September 18, 2006.
393 Amin Muhammad Khalifa was identified as a national-level Hezbollah leader by both his relatives (including a brother) and other residents of al-Ghaziyeh. The witnesses did not specify if Khalifa was active in Hezbollahs military or civilian structures.
394 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Deeb Zabad, Borj al-Shemali, October 24, 2006.
395 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch visit to al-Ghaziyeh cemetery, September 23, 2006.
396 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Deeb Zabad, Borj al-Shemali, October 24, 2006.
397 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Ahmad Badran, al-Ghaziyeh, September 23, 2006.
398 Human Rights Watch visit to al-Ghaziyeh cemetery, September 23, 2006. The body of Muhammad Ahmad Qa`in was never recovered, so there was no gravestone for him at the time of Human Rights Watchs visit. There were no Hezbollah martyr posters claiming him as a member or a fighter. All of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch identified him as a civilian. Given his age, it is unlikely he played any militant role in Hezbollah.
399 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Ahmad Badran, al-Ghaziyeh, September 23, 2006.
401 Lebanon Proposes Plan to End Violence: Two Israeli strikes kill 17 people; Hezbollah fires 140 rockets, CNN, August 7, 2006, http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/08/07/mideast.main/index.html (accessed June 12, 2007).
402 Human Rights Watch interview with `Aziza Shukair, Houla, September 21, 2006.
404 Erlich report, Appendix 4.
405 Human Rights Watch interview with Jamal Salih, Municipal official, Brital, September 7, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Abbas Isma`il, head of municipality, Brital, September 7, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Zakaria Mazlum, Nabi Sheet, November 14, 2006.
406 Human Rights Watch interview with Zakaria Mazlum, Nabi Sheet, November 14, 2006.
407 Na`im Qassem, Hizbullah: The Story from Within (Saqi Books, 2005), p. 125 (Na`im Qassem is currently Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah); Daniel Sobelman, New Rules of the Game: Israel and Hizbollah After the Withdrawal From Lebanon, Tel Aviv University Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies Memorandum 69, January 2004.
408 Human Rights Watch interview with a local resident Muhammad Najm, Chiah, August 8, 2006.
409 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Chiah, August 8, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview, `Ali Muhammad Bachir, Chiah, August 8, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Fatima `Abdullah, Beirut, August 9, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain Yassin, Beirut, August 9, 2006.
410 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch visit to Shahidayn cemetery, Beirut, October 30, 2006. Twenty-four of the 39 victims of the Chiah attack are buried as civilians in the Shahidayn cemetery, while the others were buried in their native villages.
411 Human Rights Watch interview with Ibrahim Khalifa, al-Ghaziyeh, September 23, 2006.
412 Human Rights Watch interview with Khadiye Khalil Hujeizi, al-Ghaziyeh, September 23, 2006.
413 Human Rights Watch interview with Ibrahim Khalifa, al-Ghaziyeh, September 23, 2006.
415 Bloody clashes as Israel pushes further into Lebanon, Agence France Presse, August 9, 2006. Hassan Sader had a brother who was a Hezbollah fighter and left the village the first night of the war to fight at the front, but he was not in the village at the time of the attack. Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Mashghara, September 9, 2006.
416 Human Rights Watch visit to Mashghara cemetery, November 26, 2006. The remaining six killed were buried as civilians.
417 Human Rights Watch interview with Mukhtar `Adil `Amar, September 9, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Deed Sader, Mashghara, September 9, 2006.
418 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Ahmad Shumer, Rabb al-Talatine, September 21, 2006; Human Rights Watch visit to Rabb al-Talatine cemetery, September 21, 2006.
420 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abbas `Ali Zain, Borj al-Shemali, September 15, 2006.
423 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Bazi, Imam Hassan building complex, Rweiss, October 30, 2006.
424 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan al-Tirani, Rweiss, October 30, 2006.
425 Human Rights Watch interview with shop keeper (name withheld), Rweiss, October 30, 2006.
426 Human Rights Watch interview with Hezbollah official (name withheld), Ghobeiry, October 30, 2006. The Hezbollah official identified the suspected source of the false information by name, but Human Rights Watch is withholding the identity of the official because the information cannot be independently confirmed.
427Israel claimed to have killed Sajad Dawir, identified as the head of Hezbollahs special forces in the strike on the complex. See IDF killed Hizbollah commander just before ceasefire, Jerusalem Post, August 15, 2006. However, Sajad Dawir spoke on Hezbollah radio after the war to confirm he had survived, and also appeared in public at Hezbollah rallies. Sajad Dawir does not appear to have been present at the complex when the attack took place.
428 List of the dead from the building complex attack, prepared by the Islamic Health Committee, Director-General of Civil Defense, September 18, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan al-Tirani, Imam Hassan building complex, October 30, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Fouani, member of building committee of Imam Hassan building complex, Imam Hassan building complex, October 30, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Muhammad Bazi, Imam Hassan building complex, October 30, 2006.
429 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abbas Isma`il, Brital, September 7, 2006.
431 List of dead provided by Brital municipality, September 7, 2006; Human Rights Watch visit to Brital cemetery, November 14, 2006.
432 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abbas Isma`il, Brital, September 7, 2006.
433 The two men killed were `Ali Kamel `Abdullah, 60, the driver of the pick-up, and Muhammad Musa Ghannam, who was in the pick-up with his wife and six children. Neither was affiliated with Hezbollah.
434 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Beirut, September 5, 2006.
437 Human Rights Watch interview with Salih Ibrahim Ghannam, Beirut, July 27, 2006.
438 Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for the period 21 January 2006 to 18 July 2006, July 21, 2006, paras. 7-8. UN doc S/2006/560.
439 Human Rights Watch interview with Wissam Muhammad `Abdullah, Beirut, September 5, 2006.
440 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Ishma`il `Abdullah, Beirut, August 19, 2006.
441 See Robert Fisk, Marwahin, 15 July 2006: The Anatomy of a Massacre, The Independent (London), September 30, 2006.
442 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Ishmail `Abdullah, Beirut, August 19, 2006.
443 Blanford, Hizbollah and the IDF: Accepting New Realities Along the Blue Line, The MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies.
444 If the first missile had been fired from the Israeli naval ship, it would most likely have been either an artillery round from its naval guns or a Harpoon anti-ship missile. Both the artillery round and the Harpoon missile would have been unlikely to hit the small pick-up truck on the first strike, and would have certainly completely demolished the vehicle with a dead-on hit. Drones fire much smaller missiles, causing damage consistent with that caused on the small pick-up truck, and are highly precise in their targeting. No helicopters were seen or heard overhead during the initial strike. An airplane missile would also have completely demolished the pick-up truck.
445 Human Rights Watch with Wissam Muhammad `Abdullah, Beirut, September 5, 2006.
446 See Protocol I, article 57(2)(b).
447 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Ishma`il `Abdullah, Beirut, August 19, 2006; Tyre Government Hospital records.
448 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Ishmail `Abdullah, Beirut, September 5, 2006.
449 Human Rights Watch interview with Milos Strogar, UNIFIL spokesperson, July 16, 2006.
450 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with journalist (name withheld), July 16, 2006.
451 Human Rights Watch interview with Wadih Musbah Sha`ban, Sheem, September 23, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Lebanese army soldier who witnessed attack, Sheem, September 23, 2006.
452 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Mahmud Mrad, Ham, September 11, 2006.
453 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Haider, Maaraboun, September 11, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Hassan Yahya, Maaraboun, September 11, 2006.
454 See Protocol I, article 51(3).
455 See Protocol I, article 52(2).
456 Human Rights Watch interview with Husam Haidar, `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
458 Human Rights Watch interview with Latifeh `Ali Farhat, `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
460 Human Rights Watch interview with Husam Haidar, `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
461 Human Rights Watch interview with Mumtaha Shaita, Beirut, July 27, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Muzbah Shaita, Beirut, July 27, 2006.
462 Human Rights Watch interview with Muzbah Shaita, Beirut, July 27, 2006.
464 Human Rights Watch interview with Doctor Hashim Zain, Tyre, August 1, 2006. See also Anthony Shadid, Terror Rains Down From Sky on Fleeing Lebanese: Several Refugees Killed by Missile-firing Israeli Helicopters, Washington Post, July 24, 2006; Megan K. Stack, Unbelievable Losses, Terror as Civilians Flee Missiles, Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2006; Tim Butcher, Any Moving Car Becomes A Target, as Israelis Turn the Screw, Tactics Become Tougher, Daily Telegraph (London), July 24, 2006; Thanassis Cambanis, For Fleeing Lebanese Families, Road Exacts Heavy Toll, Boston Globe, July 24, 2006.
466 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Ja`far, Tyre, August 1, 2006.
467 Ibid. See also, Raed El Rafei, Good Samaritan Survives Attack After Rescuing Wounded; Eight Passengers Barely Escape Burning Vehicle, Daily Star (Lebanon), July 25, 2006; Butcher, Any Moving Car Becomes A Target, as Israelis Turn the Screw, Tactics Get Tougher, Daily Telegraph, July 24, 2006.
468 See, for example, Zombietime, http://www.zombietime.com/fraud/ambulance/; Oliver North, Masters of Manipulation, Washington Times, September 3, 2006.
469 Human Rights Watch, The Hoax That Wasnt: The July 23 Qana Ambulance Attack, December 2006.
470 Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmad Fawaz, Beirut, September 16, 2006.
471 Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammad Hasan, Tyre, September 15, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain Farhat, Tibnine, September 13, 2006.
472 Ibid. Human Rights Watch originally reported that the ambulances had been struck by missiles fired from an Israeli airplane, but that conclusion was incorrect. See Human Rights Watch, The Hoax That Wasnt: The July 23 Qana Ambulance Attack, December 2006.
473 Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmad Fawaz, Beirut, September 16, 2006.
474 Human Rights Watch interview with Jamila Fawaz, Beirut, September 16, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmad Fawaz, Beirut, September 16, 2006.
475 See, for example, First Geneva Convention, article 35; Fourth Geneva Convention, article 21; and Protocol I, article 21.
476 Anyone responsible for deliberately making an ambulance the object of attack would be committing a war crime. See ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law, pp. 575, 593; see also Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, articles 8(2)(b)(xxiv) and 8(2)(e)(ii).
477 Human Rights Watch interviews with Husen Al-Sayyid (sister of Hassan) and Hussain `Aqil (husband of Husen), Beirut, July 26, 2006.
479 Human Rights Watch interview with Karim Michel Rached, Mukhtar of Jdeidet Marja`youn, November 4, 2006.
480 Human Rights Watch interview with Laila Maroon Najem, Jdeidet Marja`youn, November 4, 2006.
481 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Jeitawi Hospital, Beirut, August 13, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Marja`youn, November 4, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Marja`youn, November 4, 2006.
482 Human Rights Watch interview with Karim Michel Rached, Mukhtar of Jedeit Marja`youn, November 4, 2006.
483 UNIFIL, press release, August 12, 2006.
484 IDF Spokesperson, IDF Response on Convoy Hit in South Lebanon, August 12, 2006.
485 According to UNIFIL, the convoy initially included 100 civilian vehicles and was joined by another 365 civilian vehicles in Ibil al-Saqi. UNIFIL, press release, August 12, 2006, http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr027.pdf (accessed April 26, 2007). The Mukhtar of Jdeidet Marj`ayoun estimated to Human Rights Watch that as many as 1,500 vehicles joined the convoy, and that it stretched for as long as 30-40 kilometers. He recalled that he telephoned from the lead of the convoy in Hasbaya, 20 kilometers from Marja`youn, back to Marja`youn and was told that the tail of the convoy was still waiting to depart. Human Rights Watch interview with Mukhtar Karim Michel Rached, Jedeit Marja`youn, November 4, 2006. Journalists also estimated the number of cars in the convoy in the hundreds. See for example, Ed Cody, Negotiations Preceded Attack On Convoy of Fleeing Lebanese, Israeli Military Places Blame for Killings on UN Force, Washington Post, August 24, 2006; Anthony Shadid, Fleeing Lebanese Christians See Town Forever Changed, Washington Post, August 13, 2006.
486 UNIFIL, press release, August 12, 2006 available at www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr027.pdf (last accessed April 10, 2007).
487 Human Rights Watch interview with Laila Najem, Jedeit Marja`youn, November 4, 2006.
488 Human Rights Watch interview with Karim Michel Rached, Mukhtar of Jedeit Marja`youn, November 4, 2006.
489 The ICRC puts the death toll at six, while Amnesty International states that seven persons died.
490 ICRC, Lebanon-Israel: ICRC Deplores Increasing Number of Civilian Casualties and Lack of Respect for Medical Mission, August 12, 2006.
491 IDF Spokesperson, IDF Response on Convoy Hit in South Lebanon, August 12, 2006.
492 Human Rights Watch interview with Rabi` `Abbas al-Attar, Makhne, September 7, 2006.
493 Ibid; Human Rights Watch interview with Mukhtar Hussain Jamal Al-Din, Jamaliye, September 8, 2006.
494 InfoPro Center for Economic Information, Economic Impact of the July 06 War and Steps Towards Recovery, November 2006, p. 25. Other studies have shown a lower number. For example, a short report by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces lists 78 bridges destroyed. Internal Security Forces, Bodily and Material Damages until 10 a.m. on August 22, 2006.
495 Human Rights Watch interview with Haidar Zayyat, Borj al-Shemali, September 16, 2006.
496 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahmud Zayyat, Borj al-Shemali, September 16, 2006.
497 Human Rights Watch interview with Haidar Zayyat, Borj al-Shemali, September 16, 2006.
498 Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Deeb Ghadar, al-Ghaziyeh, September 23, 2006.
499 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahmud `Ez al-Din, Deir Qanoun al-Nahr, September 16, 2006.
501 Lin Noueihed, Lebanon Investigates Weapons Used in Israel Bombing, Reuters, July 26, 2006.
503 Human Rights Watch interview with Mehsin Yasin Ma`la, al-Hayysa, September 22, 2006.
504 Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Kamal Ma`la, al-Hayysa, September 22, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Mehsin Yasin Maala, al-Hayysa, September 22, 2006; Human Rights Watch interview with Hassan Kamal Ma`la, al-Hayysa, September 22, 2006.
505 Human Rights Watch interview with Marilyn `Afif Salem, Rmeish, September 25, 2006.
508 Human Rights Watch interview with Maryam Muhammad Tawbe, `Aitaroun, September 19, 2006.
510 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abla Salih, Yatar, October 23, 2006; Human Rights Watch visit to Yatar cemetery, October 23, 2006.
511 Human Rights Watch interview with Hussain al-Musawi, Arzun, August 16, 2006.
512 Human Rights Watch interview with Ibtisam Ibrahim Turmus, Arzun, August 16, 2006; Human Rights Watch visit to Arzun cemetery, August 16, 2006.
513 Human Rights Watch interview (name withheld), Arzun, August 16, 2006.
514 See, for example, Fourth Geneva Convention, article 33; Protocol II, article 4(2)(g).
515 Human Rights Watch interview with Tagrid Khanafer, `Ainata, September 26, 2006.
516 Human Rights Watch interview with Badriyyat `Abd al-Amir Khanafer, `Ainata, September 26. 2006.
517 Ibid; Human Rights Watch interview with Taghrid Khanafer, `Ainata, September 26, 2006.
518 Human Rights Watch interview with Said Hussain Nehle, Taibe, September 21, 2006.
520 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview with `Ali Ahmad Nasrallah, Taibe, September 25, 2006.