Canada

Israeli ambassador says Louise Arbour doesn't get it

The Israeli ambassador to Canada has dismissed a warning from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that war crimes charges may be warranted against Israel and Hezbollah if measures aren't taken to protect civilians.

Israel's ambassador to Canada has dismissed a warning from Canadian jurist Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, that war crimes charges may be warranted against Israel and Hezbollah if measures aren't taken to protect civilians.

Alan Baker says that Arbour, who hasbeen an international war crimes prosecutor and a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, doesn't understand the situation.

He sayshis country is attacking legitimate Hezbollah military targets andsheshould be careful with her language.

"I completely reject Louise Arbour's warning. Israel doesn't target civilian concentrations, and I think that by merely giving such a warning she's jumping to conclusions and as a judge she should know better," he says.

With Hezbollah launching rockets into Israeli cities and Israel bombing densely populated areas in southern Lebanon, hundreds of civilians are dead on the Lebanese side and more than a dozen in Israel.

Arbour issued a statement on Wednesday saying that indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians and that bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable.

Shehas the support of her boss, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has condemned both parties for killing civilians at an alarming rate.

The Israeli ambassador isn't apologizing for his country's strategy. He says Arbour fails to grasp the nature of the conflict.

"The Hezbollah are using schools and clinics and the back gardens of houses to put their missile placements there, and they are turning these civilian establishments and civilian areas into legitimate targets."

He says Israel won't entertain the idea of a ceasefire until Hezbollah has been pushed from its border.

On Friday, thousands of people were fleeing Lebanese border villagesafter a new Israeli warning of a possibleattack. There was no indication that Arbour's warning or Annan's plea for civilians would stop either the attack or the rockets falling on Israel.

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