Human Rights Watch has addressed an extensive list of recommendations to the Israeli authorities regarding its compliance with international humanitarian law during the 2006 armed conflict in Lebanon and in Gaza (see Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks against Civilians in Lebanon and the forthcoming Why They Died : Civilian Deaths in Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War). Below we make a series of recommendations that are limited to the subject of this report, Hezbollah’s firing of rockets into Israel during the 2006 conflict and humanitarian law violations.

Human Rights Watch urges Hezbollah to:

  • Unconditionally cease all attacks that deliberately target civilians and cease using means and methods of combat that cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants, when such means are used in areas where there are civilians.
  • Provide clear guidelines and training to all commanders and fighters to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law;
  • Institutionalize the taking of appropriate disciplinary measures against members who act in contravention of humanitarian law;
  • Publicly renounce the argument that attacks on Israeli civilians or civilian objects are permissible when carried out in reprisal for Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians;
  • Stop the use of unreliable and inaccurate cluster munitions and destroy all existing stockpiles.

We urge the government of Lebanon, while recognizing the political difficulties it faces, to take the following measures at the earliest time feasible, consistent with its state responsibilities and obligations:

  • Take appropriate steps to ensure Hezbollah implements the recommendations listed above.
  • Interdict the delivery of rockets to Hezbollah so long as it uses rockets in violation of international humanitarian law by firing at civilians or firing indiscriminately into civilian areas.
  • Investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian law by Hezbollah forces. We believe the credibility of the investigation would be heightened if conducted by independent and respected national experts in international humanitarian law.
  • Investigate and prosecute Hezbollah members alleged to have individual or command responsibility for the commission of war crimes.
  • Cooperate with international investigations into violations of international humanitarian law.

We urge the governments of Syria and Iran, as longtime supporters and reported arms suppliers to Hezbollah, to:

  • Not permit the transfer to Hezbollah of weapons, ammunition, and other matériel, including rockets, that have been documented or credibly alleged to have been used in violation of international humanitarian law in Lebanon or Israel. Do not provide funding or support for the acquisition or use of such weapons in the absence of concrete steps by Hezbollah to ensure their use in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law.
  • Use their influence to ensure that Hezbollah forces do not undertake attacks that violate international humanitarian law. Impress upon Hezbollah that its obligation to respect humanitarian law does not depend on reciprocity; violations by Israel do not justify its own violations.
  • Condemn attacks not only by Israel but also by Hezbollah when they target civilians or cause indiscriminate harm to civilians.

We urge the governments of the United States, the European Union and other nations having relations with the government of Iran and Syria to:

  • Urge the governments of Iran and Syria to implement the above-listed recommendations addressed to them.

Noting that both the Lebanese government and the Israeli government have failed so far to investigate violations of international humanitarian law on their territory, we call on the Secretary General of the United Nations to:

  • Establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, in Lebanon and Israel and to formulate recommendations with a view to holding accountable those who violated the law.
  • Use his influence with Israel and Hezbollah to take concrete steps to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law, particularly with respect to the protection of civilians, in any future armed conflict.
  • Urge the governments of Iran and Syria to implement the above-listed recommendations addressed to them.

We urge the government of Israel to:

  • Take, in keeping with its obligations under international humanitarian law, all feasible steps to locate military objectives, both fixed (such as military bases, headquarters and armaments factories) and mobile (such as artillery pieces and ground forces), away from densely populated areas; and ensure adequate measures to protect all civilians who may be at increased risk of enemy fire due to their proximity to Israeli military assets.
  • Ensure, during times of armed conflict, that the state provides adequate protection measures to all civilians on an equal basis.