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Final verdict of the The International Citizens' Tribunal on Lebanon

INTERNATIONAL CITIZENS' TRIBUNAL ON LEBANON

PROCEEDINGS (2008)

Promoted by Lebanese Civil Society against Israel for the acts carried out during the war of July 12-August 24, 2006

and for the damages to the Lebanese nation caused by Israel

Brussels February 22-23-24, 2008
International Association Center

JURY

Lilia Solano (President), Adolfo Ascabal, Claudio Moffa (Reporter), Rajindar Sachar

FINAL VERDICT

GIVEN
that the Lebanese Civil Society, through their organizations and representatives, has named an international jury as a court independent of any State, to judge the acts carried out by Israel during the war of July-August 2006 according to international law and in particular the Charter of the United Nations, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and the Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998;

that Lebanese Civil Society has also named as the lawyers representing them: Issam Naaman, Albert Fahrat, Hassan Jouny, Mohamed Tay and at the same time sent a formal request to Israel, the accused party, to name its defense attorney;

that in the days of February 22-23-24, 2008, the Jury, that is, Lilia Solano (Columbia), Adolfo Ascabal (Cuba), Claudio Moffa (Italy), Rajindar Sachar (India) met, in establishing as a preliminary step its competence ratione materiae, loci and temporis: materiae, the acts carried out by the Israeli army during the war against Lebanon; loci, the Lebanese territory occupied or bombarded by the Israeli army; temporis, with reference to the acts carried out during the time period starting from July 12, 2006, date of the beginning of the war, to August 24, 2006, the date of ceasefire;

that immediately after this the Jury met and named as its President Prof. Lilia Solano and Claudio Moffa as its Reporter;

that Friday February 22 at 9 p.m. the Jury opened the proceedings, by communicating to the involved parties its jurisdictional competence and the ethical goals of what would from then on make up the International Citizens’ Tribunal for Lebanon;

that on Saturday, February 23, the Jury:

- in its first act acknowledged the absence of both the representatives of Israel and their legal defense;

- listened to the Bill of Indictment against the defendants pronounced by lawyers of the victims of the war and of Lebanese Civil Society containing the charges against Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and acquiring the text for the recording of the proceedings;

- listened to the first series of witnesses in the order of the list presented in the appendix, allowing the plaintiffs’ attorneys to ask them questions, and also themselves posing questions and acquiring any possible documentation and evidence presented during the testimony for the recording of the proceedings and attached to this Verdict;

that on Sunday, February 24, the Jury heard, according to an identical procedure, the final witnesses and the experts, and concluded the discussion at 1 p.m. with a declaration by the President Lilia Solano;

IN CONSIDERATION OF

1. FACTS

On July 12, 2006 the Israeli Armed Forces invaded Lebanon, by crossing the “Blue Line” established in 1982 by UNIFIL to demarcate the territories under the regular jurisdiction of the government of Beirut, and the territories occupied by Israel during the invasion that year (1982);

The Israeli authorities justified the outbreak of this aggression by calling it a “reprisal” for the capture of two of its soldiers, which had taken place in the territory under its control by irregular Lebanese forces, which for an extended period of time had been operating in the south of the country in order to restore, beyond the Blue Line, the full sovereignty of Lebanon over the territories still under foreign occupation.

The “reprisals” in reality quickly took the form of a land invasion on the part of the Israeli army, and then, after the strong resistance of the voluntary Lebanese Armed Forces operating in proximity of the border, of an aggression of great breadth by aerial bombardments, not only on the frontier areas or of the south, but even in the Beqaa Valley and the most densely populated districts of Beirut.

The testimonies and documentation collected during the hearings, while confirming what was found by the UN Investigative Commission of November 2006, was able to verify that during the war which took place from July 12, 2006, to August 24, 2006, Israeli invasion forces:

- carried out nearly 7,000 air raids on a territory - that except for some planes and a small fleet of helicopters - was substantially without air defense;

- killed more than 1,100 people, among whom were many children, women, and elderly persons;

- bombarded, with a regularity that leaves no doubts about the intentional nature of the attacks, most of the infrastructures of the country, such as roads, bridges, airports, reservoirs of potable water, power stations, fuel deposits, as well as land for agriculture and raising livestock;

- bombarded civilian dwellings, hospitals, and nonmilitary columns of civilian cars trying to escape, with the clear goal of killing the greatest number of civilians possible;

- bombarded museums, religious places and religious ceremonies, including a funeral procession for a victim of one of the air raids;

- bombarded small supermarkets in small villages;

- attacked villages and districts without military defenses and carried out acts of collective punishment and reprisals against civilians in the occupied zones;

- attacked Lebanese medical and health-care personnel as these personnel were aiding the civilian population in emergency rescue;

- used, during these bombardments, with the aim of causing immediate or time-delayed damage to the civilian population, including children, the following prohibited weapons: toy bombs, cluster bombs, helium bombs and according to the deposition turned over by one of the witnesses, bombs with depleted uranium: on this last type of bomb the opinion of the experts is not unanimous, because the verification and surveys by Geiger counter conducted by the witness himself and his team of technicians were checked neither by the Investigative Commission of the United Nations of September-October 2006 – which had instead checked the use of all other types of bombs - nor by the investigation carried out during the same time by the Association of American Jurists;

Nevertheless, all the acts cited above, because of their regularity, constancy and continuity, provide evidence that the civilian population constituted the principal if not exclusive target of the Israeli attacks;

The testimonies and documentation acquired during the discussions were also able to verify the approximate but in all cases considerable extent of the damages--both immediate and time-delayed--of a personal, economic, environmental and psychological character that the Lebanese people experienced because of the Israeli acts of war:

A) Human damages:

- following massive bombardments, more than 1,100 people died, including hundreds of children, women, and elderly persons; approximately 4,350 were wounded, dozens of them permanently disabled, with losses also to their ability to work or carry out their profession;

- destruction of thousands of dwellings, as attested by UNIFIL in the following villages: Taïbeh, 80% of the civilian homes destroyed; Markaba, 50%; Qantara 50%; Maïs-el-Jabal 30%; Houla 20%; Talloussa 15%; Ghandourieh 80%; Zibqin 60%; Jibal-el-botm 50%; el-Bayadah 50%; Bayt-Lif 30%; Kafra 20%;

- clouds of polymer hydrocarbons, of dioxin and other carcinogenic particles that can cause respiratory and hormonal disorders (following the bombardment of the power station of Jiyyeh).

- dissemination of chemicals as well as chlorine in the atmosphere, which is capable of affecting the health of almost two million people, following bombardments of glassmaking, foodstuffs and plastics factories;

- besides these figures and the above-mentioned precise data, the fact that stands out in all the documentation and testimony made during the hearings, it is the regularity, constancy and continuity with which the Israeli armed forces targeted the civilian population as such and the country's civilian infrastructure, either in the course of the specific episodes referred to by the witnesses, or in the course of attacks on the civilian convoys, among them the two following examples, which, repeated in the Bill of Indictment and then verified during the hearings, are perhaps the most explicatory regarding the sadistic and terrorist nature of the war unleashed by the Israeli army:

-

The first: “On July 16, authorization was given to a convoy of the UNIFIL - made up of 4 buses, 7 trucks, 2 of which were armored and 2 military police vehicles to leave Naqoura at 7:15 a.m., scheduled to reach Marwaheen at 9:00 a.m. At 11:00 a.m., the local population, which wanted to evacuate, was ready and the UNIFIL of Naqoura had approved the additional evacuation of the inhabitants of the village of Um Al Tut, close to Marwaheen. At the hour of 11:15 a.m., once the convoy reached the UNIFIL military observation post, the convoy was informed that the authorization to evacuate the civilians had been cancelled. It was suggested that the convoy return to Marwaheen. Toward 2:00 p.m., UNIFIL obtained a new authorization from the Israeli military personnel in charge. As the first vehicle reached a house located in the street leading to the mosque, a smoke screen rocket fell on the roof of this house, ricocheting and falling right in front of the vehicle. The civilians left the vehicles and gathered on the central square of the village. An emissary was sent to ask for an immediate end to the attack. But a second attack took place, and 6 other smoke-screen rockets hit the same house. Towards 5:30 p.m., the convoy finally could set out again toward Tyre. The attack was intended to sow panic and terror among the civil population.”;

-

The second: “On August 11, 2006, approximately 600 vehicles left the village of Marjayoun - occupied since August 10, 2006 - in the direction of the Beqaa Valley. Towards 3:30 p.m., the convoy - including the patients and medical personnel of the hospital--had left the village to reach the eastern part of the Beqaa Valley towards 9:30 p.m. Until it reached Hasbaya, the convoy was escorted and surrounded by 2 armored UNIFIL vehicles. Towards 10:00 p.m., fifteen vehicles were hit by the bombardments of the Israeli army, causing the death of eight people, among them an engineer from the hospital and a volunteer of the Lebanese Red Cross who had tried to assist one of the wounded people. During this time, another attack took place on Marwaheen. However, as of July 15, UNIFIL had obtained the authorization of the Israeli military personnel in charge to carry out the evacuation of the civilian population. The Israeli Armed Forces attacked this convoy intentionally with the knowledge that it was not a military target. This means it was an attack that ignored the principle of distinguishing between military targets and civilian targets.”

B) Economic damage:

- to the food industry, following the total destruction of “Liban Lait” in Baalbek, the dairy company – and its derived products - the largest in the country, which produced approximately 90% of the Lebanese production of pasteurized milk;

- to industry in general with the total or partial destruction of at least 29 other factories, while eliminating approximately 5% of the Lebanese industrial sector, and inflicting other important damages to more than 700 industrial companies (including the Maliban glassmaking enterprise in Beqaa; the Safieddin pharmaceutical factory in Bazouriye, in the south of Lebanon; the Fine paper tissues factory in Kafr Jara, near Saïda; the Moussaoui building material company, near Baalbek; the Dalal factory (prefabricated houses);

- to tourism and the fishing industry, with a value of many millions of dollars following the bombardment of the power station of Jiyyeh;

- to civilian transportation, as in the case of 450 trucks attacked on the roads of Lebanon;

- to the civil infrastructure: port (destruction of radar for civilian navigation) and airport (runways and fuel tanks) of Beirut; 137 roads; 109 bridges including the Quasmieh bridge, a vital connection between Tyre and Saïda; the Zahrani bridge, which connects southern Lebanon with Mount-Lebanon and Beirut; the Mdeirej bridge connecting Beqaa with Mount-Lebanon and Beirut; the Madfoun bridge connecting northern Lebanon with Mount-Lebanon and Beirut; the Mouamaltaïn bridge connecting Jbeil and northern Lebanon with Beirut; all the bridges of Beqaa and especially the bridge of el-Assi (over the Oronte) connecting Caza d'el-Hermel with the rest of Lebanon;

Is to be stressed that often, as in the case of the Qana bridge, which was used only in the passing of the of sheep farmers and which did not have any military relevance, the destruction of the bridges prevented the population from escaping the war zone;

C) Social damage

The economic damage has in turn provoked a social crisis, represented by major a growing vulnerability of the middle class and by the impoverishment of the groups of society that are already the most vulnerable. Unemployment has increased up to 15%, compared with the 8% level of 2004. Inflation has quadrupled.

D) Environmental damage:

- following the bombardment of the power station of Jiyyeh (25 kilometers south of Beirut) and of its fuel deposits: a fire that lasted 3 days in turn covered the neighboring areas with a white cloud of pulverized concrete dust and another one of black soot, furthermore, it caused the discharge of 15,000 tons of heavy fuel into the sea, generating an oil slick, measuring 150 kilometers by 220 km, contaminating the Lebanese coastline and damaging marine fauna.

- following bombardment of the electric transformers of Saïda: a cloud of poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCB), which, according to Greenpeace, are bio-cumulative and long-lasting chemicals that are capable of provoking cancer upon inhalation.

E) Psychological and cultural damage:

- following the bombardment of the power station of Jiyyeh, damage to the archeological site of Byblos - an archeological site registered with the World Inheritance of Humanity by UNESCO. Blocks of stone constituting the base of the 2 medieval towers - north and south - at the entry of the port--were covered with a thick layer of hydrocarbons. The vestiges of antiquity (Phoenician, Hellenic and Roman) situated at further below, were also covered with the same substances;

– total and direct destruction – according to the Board of Inquiry in Lebanon installed by the Human Rights Council of the UN - of 16 schools and partial destruction of 157 others;

- destruction of the television broadcasting station Al-Manar TV. Regarding this type of attack, the Security Council resolution, Protection of Civilians During Armed Conflicts, S/RES/1738, Dec. 23, § 3.10 writes: “….that media equipment and installations constitute civilian objects, and in this respect shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals, unless they are military objectives…” ;

2. LAW

A) Upon the outbreak of the Israeli attack and the government in Tel Aviv's alleged justification for it, the Jury retains as correct and therefore admissible for purposes of the definition of the attack itself as an unjustified and illegal aggression, the three following considerations:

1) “above all, the “Blue Line” does not constitute an international border between Lebanon and Israel, but it is simply a line of demarcation, traced by UNIFIL, which is disputed in various points by the Lebanese authorities”: it should be remembered on this subject that at the time of the invasion the Israeli army occupied the Lebanese zone known as 'the Sheeba Farms'”;

2) “The Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war has, under Article 4, placed national liberation movements (and therefore, in this specific case, organizations of the Lebanese resistance) under international protection. This protection remains valid whether these formations carry out their operations inside their own national territory, or if they take place inside the territory of the occupying power. This implies that their operating range can extend to their entire territorial space of the occupying power”;

3) “Moreover, these stipulations permit any resistance force to carry out its operations in zones which do not form part of the territory of the occupying power, but even territories of a third party, each time these zones are under control of the occupying power”;

This means, that besides the obvious disproportion between the action of the capture of the two soldiers, and the “reaction,” which was concretized in the catastrophic list of actions of the already referred-to Israeli “reprisals” previously listed, that the invasion of July 12, 2006 had no justification or legitimacy within the meaning of Charter of the United Nations and the International Convention of Geneva. On the contrary, it constituted an act of war, albeit undeclared, in opposition to international law, one of numerous examples repeated by the State of Israel from 1948 to today, as is demonstrated by all the UN resolutions that have been ignored by Israel;

B) the acts carried out by the Israeli Armed Forces during the events of the war that took place from July 12 to August 24, 2006, such as those verified during the hearing, clearly constitute, according to the propositions stated in the Bill of Indictment, crimes against humanity and war crimes, in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, of the Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998, and of Protocol A of 1977.

In particular, it is obvious that these acts constituted a “extended and systematic attack against the civilian population” as defined by Art. 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998 (“crimes against humanity”), and precisely by subparagraph 1, points a, b, d and e (those last two applying first of all to the constraint against forcing the population to flee bombardment, and then to the attacks against the convoys of civilian cars by which such escape was carried out).

It is also evident that the same acts constitute a violation of Art 8 of the same Statute (“war crimes”) and of the Geneva Conventions to which it refers, as they concern:

- “Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health” of the civilian population (subparagraph 2, a, iii)

- caused the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” (2, a, iv);

- "intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities” (2, b, i);

- "intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives (2, b, ii);

- “intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance” (2, b, iii);

- “Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated” (2, b, iv);

- bombarded “villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives” (2, b, v);

- “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science ... historic monuments, hospitals …” (2, b, ix);

- used “bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body” (2, b, xix), or many weapons, projectiles, materials… with characteristics such to cause… unnecessary suffering, or which by their very nature strike in an indiscriminate manner in violation of the international law” (2, b, xx);

- diffused by planes of the written call to the civilian populations of all ages, threatening that in the case that they would not have left their dwellings and zones of residence they would be bombarded without discrimination, and by thus exerting a premeditated threat of collective punishment (2, b, xii and moreover Protocol A of 1977);

C) The acts carried out by the Israeli Armed Forces during the war from July 12, 2006 to August 24, 2006, such as those verified during the above mentioned hearing, also constitute an obvious violation of Art. 6 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998 (“crime of genocide”) and Art. 2 of the Geneva Convention of 1948 for the prevention and prohibition of genocide. It would be incorrect indeed to be intimidated by the gravity of the charge, where its decisive elements are present.

In truth, the considerations which impel the judgment of Israel as being guilty not only of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but also, with regard to the war against Lebanon of 2006, of the crime of genocide, are as follows:

1) the legal description of this crime in the Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998, taken directly from the 1948 Geneva Convention and thus from the Nuremberg Tribunal, permits its application to many if not all the conflicts of our epoch, characterized, as is well-known, by such a high technological level of the armaments of war that as a result it strikes down in these same conflicts an ever greater number from the civilian population than from the armed forces: indeed, Art. 6 of the Statute cited specifies that a series of typical actions during a war, which “kill members of the group” or “cause serious wounds to the physical or psychic integrity of people belonging to the group,” become crimes of genocide, if they are carried out “with the intention of destroying in their entirety or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group,” defining this latter, in which in any event the “intention” always becomes easily demonstrable in the case of destruction of a “part” of the “national group….” (and not all of its members, as the extreme definition of the term used would require: genocide, i.e., extermination of people until its disappearance).

2) In the case de quo, the war of Israel against Lebanon of 2006, “the intention” of Israel to destroy “in part” the Lebanese “national group” was amply demonstrated during the hearings by all the witnesses and all documentations and evidence provided: and thus, in a period when genocide is so easily charged, not only by the media, but even potentially founded on above mentioned “broad” codification of such a crime, e.g., Art. 6 of the Statute of the CPI (with the goal of demonizing any country not "politically correct" that does not conform to the new international Israeli-U.S. post-bipolar order), this case, Lebanon, and this war – the Israeli attack of July-August 2006 - fits without a shadow of a doubt in the penal fattispecie of the “crime of genocide”. Thus this crime is indeed admissible by this Jury, and it is possible to attribute it to Israel, because of the regularity with which the Israeli Armed Forces carried out its attacks primarily against civilians, by killing them (“a”), by causing them “serious damages to the physical or psychic integrity” (“b”), and by subjecting them “deliberately… to living conditions such to comprise the physical, total or partial destruction of the group itself" (“c”): the prohibited bombs, in particular those with fragmentation, and the toy-bombs, constitute overwhelming proof that Israel perpetrated genocide against the Lebanese nation. The shocking photographic documentation presented during the hearing is ictu oculi the most overwhelming evidence of this crime.

FOR ALL THESE REASONS

The International Citizens’ Tribunal on Lebanon, according to conventional and usual international law, and according to the imperative standards contained in the 1948 and 1949 Geneva Conventions and Protocol A (1977) and in the Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998; acknowledging the enormous crimes committed by Israel in the 2006 war (indiscriminate bombardments and destruction, murder of more than one thousand and one hundred persons, among them children, women and elderly persons, enormous damage to social and economic life, use of forbidden arms, etc.) declares the Israeli authorities responsible for the 2006 war against Lebanon and guilty of the following international crimes:

War Crimes

Crimes against humanity

Genocide

The Jury

Lilia Solano (President), Claudio Moffa (Reporter), Adolfo Ascabal, Rajindar Sachar

Brussels, February 24, 2008

(translation from French: John Catalinotto)

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UPDATED Mar 7, 2008 8:36 AM
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