Civilians Israeli targets says Amnesty

LONDON - Rights group Amnesty International accused Israel yesterday of deliberately targeting civilians during its campaign against Hizbollah in Lebanon and said the Jewish state might be guilty of war crimes.

Not only were food shops purposely destroyed by shelling and air attacks, Amnesty said, but aid convoys were blocked and hospitals and public utilities like water and power plants put out of action to force people to flee.

"The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy rather than collateral damage," Amnesty said.

Israel says it did not target civilians and had warned non-combatants to leave south Lebanon. It also accused Hizbollah of launching rockets from civilian areas.

Amnesty called for the United Nations to quickly set up an independent inquiry into breaches of international humanitarian law.

- REUTERS

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