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9 Jan, 2024 22:16

UN condemns Israeli killings in Lebanon and Syria

Battling terrorism cannot justify extraterritorial strikes which violate international law, experts believe
UN condemns Israeli killings in Lebanon and Syria

Israel had no right to assassinate a senior Hamas leader and six others in Lebanon last week, UN experts have said, condemning the country’s extraterritorial use of force. The statement on the matter was carried by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday.

The drone strike on the Lebanese capital, Beirut on January 2 constituted a violation of international law, given that Israel has neither provided any justification for the strike nor reported it to the Security Council as required per the UN Charter, the experts noted.

“All states are prohibited from arbitrarily depriving individuals of their right to life in military or security operations abroad, including when countering terrorism,” the experts said.

“Killings in foreign territory are arbitrary when they are not authorized under international law. Israel was not exercising self-defense because it presented no evidence that the victims were committing an armed attack on Israel from Lebanese territory,” they added.

Israel has a very poor record on the subject, the experts said, condemning its “deplorable history of assassinating suspected terrorists abroad.” Namely, “hundreds of preventive strikes on Hezbollah in the Syrian civil war” as well as other extraterritorial operations.

“Israeli police and courts must bring to justice all involved in these alleged murders,” the experts demanded, while also urging the Security Council to “effectively respond to all states in the region whose actions threaten international peace and security.”

Over the course of the conflict in Gaza, prompted by the October 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel, West Jerusalem has carried out numerous drone and artillery strikes on Lebanon – as well as Syria – in a presumed effort to hit Hezbollah and other militant groups. Israel rarely comments on these strikes or acknowledges responsibility for them. 

The latest high-profile Hezbollah target was attacked in Lebanon on Monday. The group said that Wissam al-Tawil, the deputy head of the militant group’s secretive Radwan commando unit, was killed in an air strike in southern Lebanon, attributing the attack to Israel.