10 Years Later: Commemorate the Qana Massacre and Demand Israeli Accountability
Israel has consistently committed gross human rights violations in the Arab world in the name of self-defense in the “war on terror.” In doing so, it has been able to act with impunity in the region in part due to the active support or passive acquiescence of the US Government, and partly because it is the strongest military power in the Middle East. i On April 18th, demand Israeli accountability to human rights and international law, by commemorating the 10th year since the Qana Massacre.Background:
On April 18, 1996, Israeli Armed Forces shelled a United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Compound in Qana, Lebanon killing 106 civilians and wounding hundreds of others. Israeli and American pressures shelved a UN investigation, but legal actions are now being taken in the US under US law in an effort to redress this injustice. This provides a unique opportunity for US citizens to urge their Government to uphold human rights and international. Read more below to see how you can help.
On November 4, 2005, nearly 10 years after the shelling of the Qana compound, the Center for Constitutional Rights in cooperation with several U.S.-based human rights attorneys, filed a class action lawsuit against Moshe Ya’alon, a retired Israeli general who served as Head of Israeli Army Intelligence during the shelling.ii The claims against Ya’alon include war crimes, extrajudicial killing, crimes against humanity, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The lawsuit is brought pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute which permits non-US citizens for violations of customary international law in U.S. federal courts, and the Torture Victim Protection Act, which provides for damages for extrajudicial killing under color of foreign law. To read the complaint, http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?key=104410401&url_num=1&url=http://www.ccr-ny.org/v2/legal/human_rights/docs/Complaint_Qana.pdf - click here .
Israel denies its responsibility for the tragic massacre and instead blames Hizbollah forces. Israel claims that Hizbollah forces deliberately shielded themselves behind the civilians and in doing so forced Israel to mistakenly shell the UN Compound in its exercise of “self-defense.” The U.S. Administration at the time endorsed this claim despite a UN Investigation’s findings to the contrary.
According to a UN investigation conducted in the shelling’s immediate aftermath, “while the possibility cannot be ruled out completely, the pattern of impacts in the Qana area makes it unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of technical and/or procedural errors.”iii
The UN investigation as well as the evidence upon which it was based, were never made public due to intense political pressure from the U.S. and Israel.iv A final UN report on the Qana Massacre has yet to be published.vOn April 18, 2006 demand Israeli accountability by commemorating the Qana Massacre on its 10th year anniversary.
What you can do:
(1) Write to UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan and demand that the UN release its full investigation and the evidence underlying in an effort to hold Israel accountable for its gross human rights violations. Urge your friends to write - make it a write-in Campaign!
a. H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations, UN Headquarters, First Avenue at 46th Street, New York, NY 10017
(2) Hold a protest, vigil, or rally in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. or in front of one of the eight Israeli consulates in the United States, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Houston, and Atlanta, and demand that it compensate the Qana survivors as demanded by numerous UN General Assembly resolutions. To find the address of the Embassy or one of the consulates, please http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?key=104410401&url_num=2&url=http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-of/Israel.cfm%23171 - click here .
(3) Organize a teach-in on the Qana massacre in your community, university, or place of worship. To help you do so we can send you:
a. A 24-minute videotape on the Qana massacre;
b. Fact sheets on the Qana massacre for distribution; and/or
c. Pictures from the Massacre collected by the survivors who now live in Dearborn, Michigan.
(4) Encourage your Congressional Representative to attend a Press Briefing on Capitol Hill
a. The Press Briefing will feature Haidar Bitar, father of Fadi (7) & Aboudi (9) who were killed in the shelling while visiting their Grandmother in Qana. It will also feature Judith Brown Chomsky, cooperating attorney on the class action suit on behalf of the Qana survivors, Belhas et.al., v. Ya’alon. Congressman John Conyers Jr. of Michigan has been invited as well.
b. Details to be confirmed: Tuesday April 25, 2006 2-3 PM, Room HC-7 on Capitol Hill
(5) Start a divestment campaign in your community, on your campus, and/or in your place of worship.
For more information and/or help, please contact the US Campaign’s National Grassroots Organizer, Noura Erakat, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the US Campaign’s web site for further information about the incidents of the Qana Massacre and the pending lawsuit filed on behalf of its survivors. Please http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?key=104410401&url_num=3&url=http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?list=type&type=160 - click here to visit the web site.
It is only with the heart that one can see clearly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. (The Little Prince)