"Operation Grapes of Wrath"

The Civilian Victims

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In this report, Human Rights Watch examines the activities of Israeli military forces and Lebanese guerrillas during the escalation of military activities that raged in Lebanon and parts of northern Israel from April 11 to 27, 1996 -- code-named "Operation Grapes of Wrath" by Israel. Israeli pilots carried out 600 air raids with fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and artillery units fired some 25,000 shells into Lebanese territory. Some 154 civilians were killed in Lebanon, and another 351 injured. The guerrillas fired 639 Katyusha rockets into Israel. There were no Israeli civilian deaths, although three Israeli women sustained serious injuries. In any international armed conflict, the conduct of all sides is governed by international humanitarian law (the laws of war), which is codified in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I). Protocol I, which supplements the Geneva Conventions, contains detailed rules which implement the customary international law principles that a distinction should be made between combatants and civilians, and that civilians and civilian objects may not be targeted for attack. The rules of the protocol are designed to provide more effective protection to the civilian population against the effects of hostilities during international armed conflicts. Israel has not ratified Protocol I. However, many of the provisions of Protocol I reaffirm, clarify, or otherwise codify pre-existing, customary international humanitarian law. As such, these rules are binding on both the Israel military and Lebanese guerrilla forces, and in this report Human Rights Watch uses the rules to assess the military conduct of both sides.