Friday, July 28, 2006

Universal Values

Salon: The "hiding among civilians" myth (via)
Israel claims it's justified in bombing civilians because Hezbollah mingles with them. In fact, the militant group doesn't trust its civilians and stays as far away from them as possible.

Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

Read the rest
I can't say for sure how accurate that report is but I can reiterate what Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of Israel's Northern Command, said at the start of the conflict.
Israel called Wednesday's abductions an act of war, and Maj. Gen. Udi Adam, head of Israel's Northern Command, said he has "comprehensive plans" to battle Hezbollah throughout Lebanon, not just in its southern stronghold.

"This affair is between Israel and the state of Lebanon," Adam said. "Where to attack? Once it is inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate -- not just southern Lebanon, not just the line of Hezbollah posts."
International law makes clear that warring parties must make a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants. It is not acceptable to target a civilian population even if they are sympathetic to one side in the conflict.

So, just as it is unacceptable to target Israeli civilians who support their government's conduct in this conflict or members of Olmert's Kadima party, it is equally unacceptable to target non-combatant supporters of Hezbollah.

Major General Adam has explicitly stated that Israel will not abide by that convention in this assault on Lebanon. "Once it is inside Lebanon, everything is legitimate".

And if that doesn't convince you that Israel is operating outside of international law, with the support of Bush and Blair, remember that Israel's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, told Israel's Channel 10, "If the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years."

How very civilised. Just as well our standards are so much higher than those of the Muslim barbarians...

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Neil Craig said...

It seems that, at the very least, the current deaths happened because hezbollah chose to use a village as a firing site of rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. they may well have persuaded/forced the civilians to stay there as human shields. The inevitability & effect of counter battery fire must have been obvious.

It is also noticeable that very many of those who are now "shocked" at bombing civilians were highly supportive (Ming Campbell) or directly responsible (Jack Straw) for doing just that to Yugoslavs. That the reporting of hundreds of deaths in Lebanon has received vastly less coverage from an anti "Untermensch" media than they have given to the thousands murdered in Kosovo under NATO rule.

CuriousHamster said...

Neil, I've commented on the human shield thing in the other post you commented on.

I keep meaning to explain why I don't really comment on what happened in what was once Yugoslavia. Essentially, I don't really feel I know enough about what happened to offer a worthwhile opinion on the subject. I do seem to remember that airpower was used to try to pressurise civilans to oppose their leadership, something clearly outlawed by the Geneva conventions.

Mark said...

You have only Israel's word that a rocket came from the village. So far I would rate their intelligence piss-poor, considering they didn't expect the stiff resistance they encountered, and have dramatically scaled back their plans (although, to be fair, that might be due to the tidal wave of negative opinion). However, since you seem to be a battlefield expert, perhaps you can tell me how Hezbollah is "aiming" an unguided ballistic rocket, which passes outside the firing-point line of sight in less than 10 seconds, at civilians. The majority of Hezbollah rockets don't hit anything except desert or empty hillsides, or the Sea of Galilee. Israel is the one with the precision weapons.

Before you go all melty inside over the Israelis, try googling "USS LIBERTY". You should find an account, containing the depositions of surviving crew members, of how Israel conducted unprovoked serial attacks from both air and sea against USS LIBERTY in 1967, in what could be nothing other than a deliberate attempt to sink her. During the attacks, which went on for several hours, the Israelis jammed the American communications so they could not call for help from the Sixth Fleet, nearby. When they finally got through and the Sixth Fleet scrambled a rescue mission, the Israelis suddenly announced a terrible mistake had been made, and asked LIBERTY if she needed assistance. I'm not making it up, check it out. The U.S. has ALWAYS been an ally of Israel, there was no "temporary state of hostilities". Similarly, the ship received numerous flyovers before the attack - her identity could not have been in doubt.

Sounds quite a lot like the whitewash over their blowing up a UN Observer post.

Anonymous said...

Here's another video disproving the Salon article: