Four United Nations human rights experts have begun a fact-finding mission in Lebanon and Israel. The week-long mission will investigate alleged human rights violations committed during the month-long fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah militia.
The Human Rights experts will look at the situation of internally displaced people, of extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the right to good physical and mental health and to adequate housing.
The U.N. Human Rights Office in Geneva says the experts will gather first-hand information. They will establish facts and conduct an impartial legal analysis of the persistent allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the recent conflict.
U.N. Human Rights spokesman, Jose Dias, says international humanitarian law lays down specific protections for civilians.
"In carrying out military operations, they must distinguish, at all times, between civilians and combatants and that civilians must never be the object of a direct intentional attack," he said. "That the anticipated loss to civilian life and damage to civilian property must always be proportionate to the pursuit of a concrete and direct military objective…Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited and civilians must not be used to shield military objectives from attack."
The experts will meet with Lebanese and Israeli government officials, representatives of civil society as well as victims on both sides to the conflict. A report from their mission will be submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council later this month.
The experts are appointed by the United Nations, but their missions are conducted independently and their views do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations.
Their mission is separate from a three-member Commission of Inquiry appointed by the Human Rights Council during a special one-day session on Lebanon in August. The Council condemned Israel's offensive in Lebanon and passed a resolution to have the Commission investigate, what it called, the systematic targeting and killings of civilians by Israel, to see whether the weapons used by Israel violated international law, and to assess the extent and deadly impact of Israel on the people and country.
Israel and several other countries called the resolution one-sided and said it would not provide any solution to the problems in Lebanon.