NEW YORK - As Israel's bombing of Lebanon
continues unabated into its fourth consecutive
week, the United States says it stands ready to
provide food, medicine and humanitarian assistance
to the thousands of internally displaced Lebanese
caught in the crossfire.
has also decided to accelerate the supply of
lethal weapons to Israel - "perhaps intended to
kill the very Lebanese the United States is
planning to feed and shelter", said one Arab
diplomat at the United Nations.
"It is US
hypocrisy at its worst," he said, speaking on
condition of anonymity because his country
receives millions of dollars in US economic aid.
"The right hand obviously does not know what its
left hand is up to. Or does it?"
Khan, secretary general of London-based Amnesty
International, was equally
harsh in her reaction. "It is ridiculous to talk
about providing humanitarian aid on the one hand
and to provide arms on the other. It is imperative
that all governments stop the supply of arms and
weapons to both sides immediately." Asked
whether there is a contradiction between the two,
US President George W Bush told reporters last
week: "No. I don't see a contradiction in us
honoring commitments made prior to Hezbollah
attacks into Israeli territory."
made an obvious slip when he said, "I am concerned
about loss of innocent life, and we will do
everything we can to help move equipment ... I
mean, food and medicines, to help the people who
have been displaced and the people who suffer."
Amnesty quoted British media reports
relating to two chartered Airbus A310 cargo planes
landing at Glasgow's Prestwick airport; they were
filled with GBU-28 laser-guided bombs (bunker
busters) containing depleted-uranium warheads and
destined for the Israeli Air Force. The planes
landed for refueling and crew rest after flying
from the United States.
claimed that the USA has requested that two more
planes be permitted to land in the UK en route to
Israel in the next two weeks," Amnesty said. "The
reports said the aircraft will be carrying other
weapons, including bombs and missiles."
Khan said, "The UK government should
refuse permission for its sea- and airports to be
used by planes or ships carrying arms and military
equipment destined for Israel or Hezbollah."
Amnesty International has also written to
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett urging
the government to suspend any sale or transfer of
arms and military equipment to Israel. "We have
already let the United States know that this is an
issue that appears to be seriously at fault, and
we will be making a formal protest if it appears
that that is what has happened," Khan said.
Meanwhile, New York-based Human Rights
Watch (HRW) has accused the Israelis of using
artillery-fired cluster munitions in populated
areas of Lebanon.
"Cluster munitions are
unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons
when used around civilians," HRW executive
director Kenneth Roth said. "They should never be
used in populated areas."
with state-of-the-art US-supplied fighter planes
and combat helicopters, the Israeli military is
capable of matching a combination of all or most
of the armies in Middle Eastern countries,
including Iran, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi
The annual survey of US arms sales
conducted by the Congressional Research Service
shows a total of US$8.4 billion in arms deliveries
to Israel between 1997 and 2004, with fully $7.1
billion or 84.5% coming from a single source: the
A major factor in this
trend was the rise in US foreign military
financing - outright grants to Israel - which now
totals about $2.3 billion a year paid for by US
Meanwhile, the pattern of
attacks and the extent of civilian casualties show
a blatant disregard of international humanitarian
law by Israel and Hezbollah, Khan said. "Direct
targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure
and launching indiscriminate and disproportionate
attacks amount to war crimes."
Boyle, professor of international law at the
University of Illinois College of Law, said the
192-member United Nations General Assembly must
immediately establish an International Criminal
Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as a "subsidiary organ"
under UN Charter Article 22.
would be organized along the lines of the
International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia
(ICTY), which was established by the UN Security
Council in 1993.
"The purpose of the ICTI
would be to investigate and prosecute Israeli war
crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide
against the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine -
just as the ICTY did for the victims of
international crimes committed by Serbia and the
Slobodan Milosevic regime throughout the Balkans,"
Furthermore, establishment of
an ICTI by the General Assembly would serve as a
deterrent on Israeli leaders, including the prime
minister, defense minister, the chief of staff and
Israel's other top generals in case they will be
prosecuted for their further infliction of
international crimes upon the Lebanese and the
Palestinians, said Boyle, author of Biowarfare
and Terrorism (Clarity Press: 2005) and
Destroying World Order (Clarity Press:
Without such a deterrent, he said,
Israel might be emboldened to attack Syria with
the full support of the US right-wing
neo-conservatives, who have always viewed Syria as
"low-hanging fruit", ready to be taken out by
their joint aggression.
Israeli media have
reported that the Bush administration is
encouraging Israel to attack Syria. If Israel
attacks Syria as it did when it invaded Lebanon in
1982, Iran has vowed to come to Syria's defense.
"This scenario could readily degenerate
into World War III," Boyle warned. ''For the UN
General Assembly to establish ICTI could stop the
further development of this momentum towards a
regional if not global catastrophe."