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UN rights mission says Israel broke law in Lebanon

Written by: Staff

GENEVA, Nov 21 (Reuters) A U N commission of inquiry today accused Israel of ''flagrant violations'' of international human rights law in its month-long war with Hezbollah Islamist fighters in Lebanon.

A team of three legal experts, sent to Lebanon by the top UN human rights body, the Human Rights Council, said Israel was guilty of ''excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force'' in the conflict.

''The commission has formed a clear view that, cumulatively, the deliberate and lethal attacks by the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) on civilians and civilian objects amounted to collective punishment,'' they said in a report on the Council's Web site.

The team was made up of Joao Clemente Baena Soares, a former secretary-general of the Organisation of American States, Mohamed Chande Othman, a judge on Tanzania's Supreme Court, and Stelios Perrakis, a professor at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in Athens, Greece.

They called on the Council, which will consider the report at its next meeting which begins on November 27, to ensure that United Nations agencies and bodies such as the World Bank provided adequate reconstruction aid to Lebanon.

There was no immediate response from Israel, which says Hezbollah provoked the July 12-August 14 conflict by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and launching rockets into northern Israel.

But UN Watch, a pro-Israeli non-governmental organisation, issued a statement saying the findings ''legitimise Hezbollah by adopting the terrorist group's version of history, of this summer's conflict and of international law.'' REUTERS PDM MIR KP1854

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