July 12, 2007 / 10:44 AM / 12 years ago

A year after war, reports condemn Israel, Lebanon

JERUSALEM, July 12 (Reuters) - A year after the outbreak of war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, both countries have failed to act on war crimes committed during a month of fighting, two human rights groups said on Thursday.

In scathing reports, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both called for an arms embargo on Israel and the Islamist guerrillas until steps are taken to ensure that human rights violations are not repeated.

The two reports criticised Israel for dropping thousands of cluster bombs on southern Lebanon, many of which failed to explode and continue to pose a threat to civilians. They rebuked Hezbollah for firing at least 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns.

Nearly 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died during 34 days.

"Neither the Israeli nor the Lebanese government has investigated these violations, nor has either held anyone accountable," said Human Rights Watch.

An Israeli commission to investigate the war focused primarily on its military’s shortcomings, while the Lebanese authorities, "engulfed in internal tensions ... have lacked both the will and, seemingly, the capacity to investigate violations", the group said.

Amnesty International also called for an international arms embargo.

"The (U.N.) Security Council should declare and enforce an arms embargo on both Israel and Hezbollah until effective mechanisms are in place to ensure weapons will not be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme.

The Amnesty report called on Israel to provide maps with the locations of cluster bombs dropped in south Lebanon and urged Hezbollah to provide information about two Israeli soldiers it captured on July 12 last year in a cross-border raid.

"Israel is a country with the rule of law ... and a respect for human rights. When allegations are raised about soldiers acting inappropriately, they are investigated," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.

There was no immediate comment from Lebanese authorities.

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