Adalah: Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel charged yesterday that Israel's actions in Lebanon are, in effect, war crimes under the precedents set by the International Court in the Hague.

Adalah wrote to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, quoting court rulings regarding military action aimed at civilian targets. These include the killing of civilians, bombing villages and demolishing houses.

The letter quotes an International Court ruling of 2000 in which generals and politicians in the former Republic of Yugoslavia were convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 15-45 years of jail. The defendants claimed their actions were justified by immediate operational needs, which the court rejected.

"The international community must not tolerate such crimes, no matter where they may be perpetrated, no matter who the perpetrators are and no matter what the reasons for them may be. If armed conflict is unavoidable, those who have the power to take decisions and those who carry them out must ensure that the most basic rules governing the law of nations are respected," wrote Adalah.