Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2006 / 22:00 pm
Recent reports indicate that Hezbollah is using Christian villages to shield its attacks against Israel.
According to Christian Solidarity International, Hezbollah is hiding among civilian populations, mostly in southern Lebanese towns, such as Ain Ebel, Rmeish, Alma Alshaab.
Launching attacks behind human shields is in violation of the Geneva Convention's provision for the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, which prohibits the use of civilians as military shields.
This is not a new strategy for Hezbollah. Col. Charbel Barka, a former South Lebanese Army commander, says Hezbollah is repeating what it did in attacks against Israel in 1996.
A Christian from the village of Ain Ebel, who requested to remain nameless for fear of a reprisal from Hezbollah, reported that he found Hezbollah fighters setting up a launcher on his rooftop. Hezbollah fighters ignored his pleas to stop and fired the missiles. He immediately gathered his family and fled his home, which was bombed 15 minutes later by an Israeli air strike.
Hezbollah has also attempted to stop Christians from fleeing their villages. According to Christian Solidarity International, on July 28, Hezbollah fighters fired upon several Christians fleeing Rmeish with their families, wounding two.
Sami El-Khoury, president of the World Maronite Union, adds that media reports about Christian support for Hezbollah are inaccurate.
"Contrary to Western press reports, indicating high percentages of Christian support for Hezbollah, 90 percent of Christians, 80 percent of Sunni and 40 percent of Shiites in Lebanon oppose Hezbollah," El-Khoury told Christian Solidarity International.
Christian Solidarity International has called for the United Nations to establish a politically independent commission to investigate Hezbollah's contravention of international law. The group has also urged the UN Security Council to deploy immediately an international force in Lebanon to facilitate a ceasefire, to stop the flow of arms from Syria to Hezbollah, and to assist the Lebanese government in fulfilling its obligation to disarm Hezbollah.
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. Once the majority, the Christian population in Lebanon has declined to under 40 percent due to pressures by Islamic militias supported by Iran and Syria.