By Sami Zaptia.
London, 8 May 2020:
The European Union today ‘‘condemned in the strongest possible terms the latest indiscriminate series of shellings and attacks against civilians attributable to Haftar’s forces, which in the night of 7 May hit a number of residential neighbourhoods in Tripoli, including in proximity of the diplomatic representation of Italy, killing at least 5 innocent civilians and injuring many more’’.
The EU expressed it ‘‘solidarity with Italy’’ and offer condolences to the families of the victims and wished a quick recovery for those injured.
It underlined that any kind of indiscriminate strike against civilians and civilian infrastructure is unacceptable and runs counter to the respect for human life and international humanitarian law.
It will be recalled that despite the so-called humanitarian Ramadan ceasefire offered by the Khalifa Hafter forces on 29 April, shelling has continued over the last three days in Busleem, Al Hadba (Al-Badri), Zenata and Zawiet Dahmani.
It must, however, be pointed out that the internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli rejected the unilateral LNA ceasefire insisting that the Hafter’s LNA had a track record of violating previous ceasefires and called for international monitoring of any ceasefire as a precondition.
Tripoli believes Hafter has offered the ceasefire as a tactic in view of his setbacks on the battlefield in order to gain time to rearm.
In its latest report to the UN Security Council on Tuesday (5 May), International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda reminded that military commanders can be held responsible for crimes committed by their forces and have a duty to prevent such crimes. She described Hafter’s LNA as a ‘‘militia’’.
Bensouda said she was concerned about the high number of civilian casualties from airstrikes and bombings. She said the ICC was analysing information on possible crimes under the Rome Statute such as the intentional attacks on civilian sites and issues of proportionality.
Meanwhile, UNSMIL had reported in its latest civilian casualties report up to 31 March at least 131 civilian casualties (64 deaths and 67 injuries) in Libya. This figure represents an overall increase in civilian casualties of 45 per cent compared to the preceding period in the fourth quarter of 2019, it added. It reported that ground fighting was the leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by targeted killings, airstrikes, and improvised explosive devices.