Hezbollah is Using Christian Villages to Shield its Military Operations in Violation of International Law
WASHINGTON, August 1, 2006: Hezbollah is using Christian villages to shield its military operations against Israel. Southern Lebanese Christian villages, such as Ain Ebel, Rmeish, Alma Alshaab, and others are being used by Hezbollah terrorists for launching missile attacks.
"Hezbollah is repeating the same pattern that it practiced against Israel in 1996," says former South Lebanese Army commander, Col. Charbel Barkat. "Hezbollah is hiding among civilian populations and launching attacks behind human shields."
A Christian from the village of Ain Ebel, who is nameless because he fears retribution by Hezbollah, discovered Hezbollah guerillas were setting up a launcher to fire Katyusha rockets from the rooftop of his home. Ignoring his pleas to stop, they fired the missiles. He immediately gathered his family and fled home, which indeed was bombed and destroyed 15 minutes later by an Israeli air strike.
In addition to having their homes commandeered for launching Hezbollah's attacks, there have been attempts to obstruct Christians from fleeing their villages.
On Saturday, July 28, Hezbollah fighters fired upon several Christians fleeing Rmeish with their families, wounding two according to Christian sources in south Lebanon. Hezbollah has been the ruling power in the south since Israel withdrew from Lebanon six years ago. Christian villages suffer from extensive neglect of infrastructure under Hezbollah rule. Even though Christians pay the taxes for basic government services, such as road repair and other utilities, these services are rarely provided. On the other hand, Shiite villages supportive of Hezbollah do not pay taxes and benefit from infrastructure development and new residential and business construction. Once the majority, the Christian population in Lebanon since the civil war has declined to under 40% due to pressures by Islamic militias supported by Iran and Syria.
"Hezbollah is the issue," warns Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick, Washington Representative of Christian Solidarity International and secretary general of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights. "A misrepresentation of the position of most Lebanese Christians is underway." Roderick recently traveled to Lebanon to meet with the leaders of the Cedar Revolution and Lebanese activists.
Sami El-Khoury, president of the World Maronite Union, says that reports on Christian support for Hezbollah are misleading. "Contrary to Western press reports, indicating high percentages of Christian support for Hezbollah, 90% of Christians, 80% of Sunni and 40% of Shiites in Lebanon oppose Hezbollah," says El-Khoury.
Christian Solidarity International (CSI) laments the destruction and violence inflicted upon the Lebanese country and acknowledges that the international community must play a role in Lebanon's restoration. It also recognizes that if Hezbollah is not disarmed, the future of Lebanese Christians and all pro-democracy supporters will be bleak. "The Lebanese government should focus their rage against Hezbollah, not Israel," notes Tom Harb, secretary general for the International Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559 (UNSCR 1559).
CSI calls for the U.N. to establish a politically independent commission to investigate Hezbollah's violations of the Geneva Convention's provision for the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1). This protocol prohibits the use of civilians as military shields. CSI also calls on the U.N. Security Council to deploy without further delay an international force in southern Lebanon and eastern Lebanon to facilitate a cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah, stop the flow of arms from Syria to Hezbollah, and assist the Lebanese government in fulfilling its obligation to disarm Hezbollah in accordance with UNSCR 1559.
* For Interviews with key pro-democracy activists inside and outside of Lebanon, contact: Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick, 202-498-8644, email@example.com