Lebanon’s Finance Minister Jihad Azour said his country was preparing to go to an international tribunal to seek reparations from Israel for the damage caused during last summer’s war; “Israeli aggression was beyond the purpose”, he said.

Azour was speaking at Johns Hopkins University.

He 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 fighters captured two of its soldiers in a cross-border raid.

The month-long war killed over 1,100 Lebanese civilians, displaced thousands and destroyed swathes of infrastructure, including roads, bridges and power systems.

But the Israeli offensive failed to achieve its aims and Hezbollah was regarded as the victor of the war. Azour said Lebanon’s economy had been set back 10 years by the attack. Over a million cluster bombs had been dropped on the 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 said 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.

Lately, a member of a European Parliament delegation, Beatrice Patrie, on a visit to Lebanon, said that Israelis “wanted to destroy Lebanon since it is the only democratic country that embraces different sects … and that makes Israel look bad”.

She added: “Israel has not achieved its goals in Lebanon … it has not recovered its detainees nor has it defeated Hezbollah,”. “It has just inflicted severe damage on the country.”

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.

-Agencies- cxlbx


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