Beirut & Washington - Lebanon is preparing to go to an international tribunal to seek reparations from Israel for damage caused during last year's month-long war, the country's finance minister Jihad Azour has said.
Speaking at Johns Hopkins University, Azour 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 guerrillas captured two of its soldiers in a cross-border raid. The war killed over 1,400 Lebanese mainly civilians , displaced thousands and destroyed swathes of infrastructure, including roads, bridges and power systems.
Azour ( R) said Lebanon's economy had been set back 10 years by the attack. Over a million cluster bombs had been dropped on his 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.
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.
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Sources: Reuters, Ya Libnan