Thursday, August 10, 2006

Israel Admits Targeting Civilians

One of the more curious elements of the war in Lebanon is the frequency with which Israel has dropped leaflets throughout the country. It is as if these leaflets serve to absolve Israel of any responsibility, despite the practical problems with the requests. The latest warning dropping from the sky contains an ominous warning, and what is a frank admission that the Israeli army intends to "indiscriminately" target everything:
"Beware," the leaflets said. "The broadening of terrorist operations by Hezbollah will lead to a painful and severe response whose results will not be limited to the bandit Hasan [Nasrallah] and his criminals."

All the rhetoric of "careful" strikes is just that rhetoric. However, this leaflet dropped in Beirut and other towns is the first time Israel has admitted its vindictive nature in this war. The Israeli army has previously stated that for every house struck in Israel, ten will be levelled in Lebanon, but this latest leaflet seems to endorse a scorched earth philosophy. With every day, the illusion of Israel's "self-defense" looks more laughable.


I also posted this on Daily Kos and it seemed to generate quite alot of controversy.


Saskboy said...

I seem to remember other militaries that will go unmentioned that punished 10 [or whatever the larger number] for every one of their own hurt.

I hope those leaflets help hang the war criminals who target civilian centers, when the dust settles. They are irrefutable proof that Israel is unconcerned that it's targetting civilian centers. I have little doubt that International law doesn't allow that. If they wanted to kill off Hezbollah, they should have done it with the UN's help. Now they are a bunch of illegal vigilantes, no better than Bush's crew.

Steve V said...


"I seem to remember other militaries that will go unmentioned that punished 10 [or whatever the larger number] for every one of their own hurt."

I remember this comment from two weeks ago that is applicable to your point:

"The Association for Civil Rights in Israel appealed to Defense Minister Amir Peretz after IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz apparently said that “for every Katyusha barrage on Haifa, 10 more buildings in the Dahiya neighborhood of south Beirut will be bombed.”

Scotian said...

From the outset of this latest conflict it was clear to me that Israel was intentionally making life as hard as possible on civilians in the hope that doing so would turn them against Hezbollah. This despite the repeated evidence that punishing civilians for the acts of militants in such a disproportionate manner almost always increases the support for the militants within that society.

That Israel has killed as many innocents as they have in this, has committed ethnic cleansing of southern Lebanon in the guise of protecting civilians without anyone questioning the right of Israel to do so, the constant strikes on civilian infrastructure needed to escape including any moving vehicles including ambulances (which they justify by arguing they can be used to transport weapons regardless of whether they have any basis for believing that those specific vehicles actually are doing so instead of sick/dying human beings) and the strikes throughout Lebanon and not just in southern Lebanon makes clear their at best indifference of Lebanese civilians survival and at worst intentional attacks upon them.

This idea that since Israel could be killing far more civilians if they chose to does not absolve them at all from the clear disregard for civilian life they have committed. Take Israel's losses, if I remember correctly more than half of their dead are military, which shows a roughly 20 to 1 ratio in civilians killed between them and Lebanon. Yet it is supposedly Lebanon and Hezbollah being the ones slaughtering civilians? Incidentally, I keep hearing people claim that Hezbollah deliberately uses civilians for cover so as to cause such death tolls when they are attacked, yet this has not been backed up with clear evidence of such. Indeed, I recall reading an article at not too long ago which said that Hezbollah unlike most every other militant group in the area does not do so to prevent spies from gathering information about their operations to relay to their enemies, which has been a problem for groups like Hamas, Fatah, etc.

Now, I do not claim to know one way or the other on this, what I do know is there in too many people this automatic acceptance of Israel's claims as truthful and Hezbollah's as fiction. This is inherently dangerous as *ALL* sides in a conflict have a clear interest in spinning things to their advantage and just because one side is a democracy does not change this reality one whit. To take *EITHER* side's claims at face value shows either a bias against/for one side or a complete ignorance of one of the most basis rules of conflict, that being the first causality is always the truth.

Incidentally, I get a lot of people complaining that I am holding Israel to a higher standard then Hezbollah. You know something? They are right, I expect a militant/extremist/terrorist group to act in the manner they have, I do *NOT* expect a western style open democratic society to act the same way. If Israel is the "good guy" in this then their actions have to reflect that, which I do not believe they have in this particular conflict. Israel and Israel defenders that cannot understand this have shown themselves to be too far gone in their biases for any critical thought IMHO.

Israel is not in a war for it's survival, there is no one in that region that can seriously threaten Israel's existence, period. If someone were to manage to use conventional forces to start pushing Israelis out of the country (into the sea which is a popular expression Israeli defenders keep bring up) then Israel would be able to use it's nuclear arsenal to take those conventional forces out.

Israel is under threat of attack, but not anywhere near a war for it’s very survival, and without that "war for it's very survival" it's conduct in this conflict cannot be justified by anyone that claims to be moral and a believer in human rights for all human beings. It is easier to buy into that false premise because it allows one to excuse their side (Israel) from any of the traditional constraints civilized societies employ when using force/fighting wars. It allows then to rationalize away all these civilians dead, these innocent children dead on the Lebanese side and to even blame the victims for their deaths instead of requiring their preferred side from taking responsibility for it's actions.