In August of 2006, a violent armed clash erupted between Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim armed group based in the south of Lebanon, and the State of Israel. Initially the conflict started in early July when Hezbollah launched an attack on Israeli positions on the Blue Line, a UN made line after Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Israel’s response was a large-scale operation. It quickly led to a full-fledged conflict that violated international humanitarian law while NGO’s mobilized to respond to what became an acute humanitarian crisis.
Israel and Hezbollah were easily able to violate international law on armed conflicts because technically, their clash was not one. In 1995, the Appeal Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal established that an international armed conflict exists whenever there is resort to armed forces between states. This conflict was not between states as Hezbollah functions independently from the government. However, the 2006 war should be considered an armed conflict as cross border attacks affected Lebanon’s entire population, not just Hezbollah. Hezbollah has also always been accepted as a legitimate Lebanese resistance movement working for the liberation of Lebanese citizens in Israeli jails.
If viewed as an international armed conflict, the full scope of international humanitarian law governs this conflict. Lebanon has ratified all four Geneva conventions and its two additional protocols, therefore the Islamic Resistance, Hezbollah’s military wing, is bound by these rules. Israel also remains bound by the full scope of international customary law as documented by the International Committee of the Red Cross’s two-volume publication on customary international humanitarian law.
The reports produced by ALEF cover the nature of the conflict and the major violations to international humanitarian law that happened in Lebanon and Israel. Both parties were responsible for major violations that endangered and destroyed civilian lives.