The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.Sadly, even the Guardian cannot bring itself to accurately reflect what's happening. Try this:
The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.
The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on the Lebanese people before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.That is the reality. No amount of "sincere regret" on the part of the Israeli government changes the fact that it is Lebanese civilians who are squarely in the sights of the Israeli military when they pull the trigger.
Israel unleashed fierce air strikes on Lebanon on Wednesday, killing 41 civilians and a Hizbollah fighter, as boats and buses left Beirut laden with thousands of foreigners fleeing the eight-day-old conflict.Forty one civilians and one Hizbollah fighter.
If you know that the bomb you're about to drop or the shell you're about to fire is almost certain to kill innocent civilians and you do it anyway, and you have no intention of changing that behaviour in the future, your platitudes of regret are utterly meaningless. If you regret something, you are usually expected to prove the point by doing your absolute best never to do it again.
Yes, Israel has the right to defend itself. But it does not have the right to impose violent collective punishment on the Lebanese people as a whole. No state has the right to behave in such a way as it is, rightly, illegal under international law.
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva ConventionInternational law is a complex thing and it may well be possible to argue that Article 33 doesn't apply in the present circumstances. But what sort of morals must a person have to argue that this sort of collective punishment is justifiable? Let's not beat about the bush here; those are the morals of the terrorist. The belief that it is justifiable to direct lethal violence against the many for the actions of the few is the bedrock of terrorist activity. Can we really go down that route without losing our humanity, our decency, our claim to be civilised people?
No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
I call for the British government to demand the immediate cessation of Israeli collective punishment of the Lebanese people. The right of self defence cannot justify the current disproportionate actions of the Israeli government.
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