Israel in Lebanon
The Report of the International
Commission to enquire into reported
violations of International Law by
Israel during its invasion of the Lebanon
The principal and essential judgments of the Commission are concerned and connected with the eight questions which constituted the Terms of Reference of the Commission. In addition, evidence presented to the Commission has led it to formulate additional conclusions. The general conclusions are first related to the eight questions, with the additional conclusions following:
1. Has the Government of Israel committed acts of aggression contrary to international law?
The Commission considers that Israel has been guilty of aggression against the sovereignty of Lebanon and the rights of the Palestinian people. Such aggression has taken place contrary to the provisions of the Charter of the UN and other fundamental principles of international law. Such a violation of international law has been described by the principal legal body of the UN, the International Law Commission, as a crime under international law , since the wrongful act results from a breach of an international obligation ‘essential for the protection of the fundamental interests of the international community as a whole.’
The Commission considers that Israel is also in breach of the international obligation to safeguard the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people and of the rules of law prohibiting the establishment or maintenance by force of colonial domination. The Commission is convinced that until Israel recognises the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including the right of self-determination, there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East or an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. These crimes of State give rise to criminal liability as far as the State of Israel is concerned. The Commission wishes to draw attention to the legal and political responsibility of other states, international bodies and public and private organisations which assist in the commission of various crimes, but especially the crime of aggression.
Israel has persistently violated the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and has systematically refused to ‘agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council’ in accordance with Article 25 of the Charter. Decisions of the Security Council are not limited to the provisions of Chapter VII of the Charter where the Security Council determines that there is a ‘threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression’. Such a determination by the Security Council has not been made because of the use or threat of the use of the veto by the United States. However, Israel is obliged to carry out the decisions of the Security Council which fall within the competence of the appropriate organ of the United Nations.
The refusal by Israel to withdraw from Lebanon, to lift the blockade of Beirut and to allow free movement to UN Observers as requested by the United Nations, especially as these illegal activities were taking place in the territory of another sovereign state, Lebanon, are serious attacks on the integrity of the United Nations.
Israel, in addition, has systematically refused to settle its disputes peacefully, contrary to the international obligations undertaken under Article 2(3) of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Commission draws the attention of States to the important legal duty not to recognise in any way the consequences of Israel’s illegal action in the Lebanon, especially as they may relate to the continued illegal occupation of Lebanese territory.
As the commission of an intentionally wrongful act entails a State’s international responsibility, Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for the consequences of its wrongful actions. The International Law Commission has described this proposition of law as ‘one of the principles most deeply rooted in the doctrine of international law’. Reparation or compensation is an indispensable complement of a failure to respect rules of law. Israel therefore owes a duty of reparation to the State of Lebanon for the physical destruction, loss oflives and general damage caused. In addition it is obliged to compensate the Palestinian people for the direct and indirect consequences of the war of aggression.
2. Have the Israeli armed forces made use of weapons or methods of warfare fobidden by international law, including the laws of war?
The Commission concludes that the use made of fragmentation and incendiary weapons by the Israeli armed forces violated the international legal principles of proportionality and discrimination. Acts of violence were directed against refugee camps, hospitals, schools, cultural, religious and charitable institutions, commercial and industrial premises, Lebanese Goverment and PLO offices, diplomatic premises and urban areas generally, which were not justified by the principle of military necessity. The damage and destruction to civilian objects and the casualties among the civilian population were, in the Commission’s view, the consequence of violations by the Israeli forces of the legal principles governing the conduct and methods of war.
3. Have Palestinian and Lebanese, or other, prisoners been subjected to treatment forbidden by international law, including inhuman or degrading treatment? Has there been a violation of international law arising out of the classification or denial of status to Palestinian prisoners or detainees?
The Commission concludes that Israel violated international rules dealing with prisoners, both civilians and fighters, particularly by denying Palestinian and Lebanese fighters prisoner-or-war status, as provided under Geneva Convention III of 1949 and the Additional Protocol I of 1977, and by subjecting these prisoners to unlawful treatment which included degrading treatment and brutality, on occasion leading to death, during arrest and transportation. Forbidden interrogation of detainees, both of prisoners-of-war and civilians, was often conducted with violence and sometimes torture, contrary to the Geneva Conventions. Detainees were intentionally deprived of medical care in camps both in Israel and at Al-