Lebanon is preparing
to go to an international tribunal to seek reparations from Israel for
damage caused during last year’s month-long war, the country’s finance
minister Jihad Azour said on Monday. Speaking at Johns Hopkins
University, Azour declined to say which court or international tribunal
Lebanon would petition and added that the case is still being prepared.
Israel invaded southern Lebanon in July after Hezbollah guerrillas
captured two of its soldiers in a cross-border raid. The war killed
over 1,100 Lebanese, displaced thousands and destroyed swathes of
infrastructure, including roads, bridges and power systems.
Azour said Lebanon’s economy had been set back 10 years by the attack.
Over a million cluster bombs had been dropped on his country, killing
civilians, he added. “We were attacked. The (extent of the)
Israeli aggression was beyond the purpose. Therefore we want to seek
reparation, first of all, for the principle that you cannot kill 1,400
individuals, most of them civilians, displace so many people and
destroy the economy without being asked for reparations,” he said. “We are preparing our case,” he added. Asked if Lebanon wanted money from Israel or an apology, he said: “Both. It’s not about money but about principle.”
The minister told Reuters after the speech Lebanon’s Justice Ministry
had commissioned international lawyers to prepare the case. He said he
was not aware of how much compensation would be sought. “Lebanon’s objective is above all to set a precedent. The financial dimension is secondary,” he added.
In December, a United Nations human rights inquiry said Israel should
be made to pay compensation to Lebanon. It suggested setting up an
international compensation program similar to the one that paid out
billions of dollars to cover losses due to Iraq’s 1990-91 invasion of
Kuwait. Israel, supported by the United States, has rejected the findings, saying it had acted in self-defense.