August 09, 2006
by: jovial_cynic
The civilian death toll in Lebanon is skyrocketing, and each day it gets worse. While Freedland's piece in the Guardian suggests that Hezbollah is using civilians as shields, forcing Israel to kill civilians in an attempt to strike Hezbollah rocket launchers and fighters, independent research groups in Lebanon (particularly, Human Rights Watch) state the opposite.

"The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military's disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians. Our research shows that Israel's claim that Hezbollah [sic] fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel's indiscriminate warfare."

Citing 24 particular incidents, they report that Israeli forces "appear to have deliberately targeted civilians," and in certain cases, "researchers could find no evidence that Hizbullah was operating in or near the areas that were attacked by the Israeli air force."

Furthermore, regarding Hezbollah fighters "blending into crowds," Johnathan Cook (writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Northern Israel) writes:

Echoing comments by the UN's Jan Egeland, he says Hizbullah fighters are "cowardly blending" with Lebanon's civilian population. It is difficult to know what to make of this observation. If Freedland means that Hizbullah fighters come from Lebanese towns and villages and have families living there whom they visit and live among, he is right. But exactly the same can be said of Israel and its soldiers, who return from the battlefront (in this case inside Lebanon, as they are now an invading army) to live with parents or spouses in Israeli communities. Armed and uniformed soldiers can be seen all over Israel, sitting in trains, queuing in banks, waiting with civilians at bus stops. Does that mean they are "cowardly blending' with Israel's civilian population?

Cook also writes that rockets were fired into his town of Nazareth a week into the conflict, and that while Israel claimed that Hezbollah fired indicriminately into a civilian town (even though Nazareth has a muslim majority), Hezbollah's Nasrallah immediately offered an appology, stating that the attack was a mistake. Cook writes:

The real target of the strike was known to Nazarenes: close by the city are a military weapons factory and a large military camp.


There are hundreds of similar military installations next to or inside Israel's northern communities. Some distance from Nazareth, for example, Israel has built a large weapons factory virtually on top of an Arab town -- so close to it, in fact, that the factory's perimeter fence is only a few metres from the main building of the local junior school. There have been reports of rockets landing close to that Arab community. (emphasis mine)

The spin on information about Hezbollah hiding among civilians (instead of... standing in a field to get picked off?) is no different than Israel's military bases planted within neighborhoods and near schools. The only difference is that Hezbollah has only killed 100 civilians, whereas Israel's blatant disregard for Lebanese people has resulted in the death of over 1,000.
np category: politics


Luke said:
I'm not sure I want to always play devil's advocate with you on every post. Partly because I think you'd trump me in debate, and I fear failure ;)

I could see how some of the post is true. I'm sure that Israel has targeted areas that killed civilians that were 'innocent' for all intents and purposes. I'm not sure that they can, however, make the claim that Israel is 'intentionally' targeting civilians who are uninvolved in the conflict. Israel has taken a number of steps to give advance warning because civilian casualties aren't the goal, and stopping Hezbollah is. I won't bore you with what they've done since I'm sure you already know.

The second thing is that I would be interested to see the kind of 'research' the "independent research groups in Lebanon" have done. They have a dog in the fight and I'm skeptical for the same reason that I'd be skeptical of an Israeli Human Rights Watch indicating the level of Hezbollah crimes.

I think I'm understanding your position a little better. Basically you're for neither side, both are wrong in your opinion, and you tend to focus a little more on how Israel is wrong than vice versa because most tend to focus on how Israel is the victim. Am I close?

August 10, 2006

Luke said:
I meant to post this thought from '' regarding Hezbollah's war crimes:

"First their is the obvious crime of launching attacks on a neighboring state from populated areas, purposely putting unarmed civilians in harm’s way. Then there is Hizb’allah indiscriminate shelling of Israeli civilian population centers. But within that violation there is an even more serious crime - the brutal nature of the weapons being employed by Hizb’allah.

"While visiting northern Israel Saturday, we witnessed a Katyusha strike on the northern suburbs of Haifa. Arriving at the impact site of two rockets, we noted how the thousands of ballbearings packed into each warhead - which were scattered about the scene - had caused damage to buildings and cars up to 100 yards away.

"The anti-personnel function of these weapons is clear, and the fact they are being used against a civilian population should be cause for outrage, not only in Israel but also in the halls of the UN. It is nothing short of miraculous that hundreds more Israelis have not been killed and wounded by these weapons.

"The world needs to stop looking at body counts, and start paying attention to intent. Israel’s intent is to destroy a terrorist infrastructure with global reach while avoiding civilian casualties as much as possible. Hizb’allah’s intent to to mass murder Israeli civilians by launching anti-personnel weapons into crowded population centers. The latter is a war crime, the former is not."

Also take into account the weapons used by both armies. I've not heard any credible account that Israel is using illegal weapons of warfare. However Hezbollah is using weapons that are encased with ball-bearings that shoot out and do the most destructive 'human' damage possible.

I think I can understand that from their perspective they are doing what they think is best for their people according to their religion. I don't doubt that. I don't think that they're Satan incarnate, but I do believe they're very deluded to truth and dangerous because of their beliefs. Israel may be wrong on some fronts, and have a load of mistakes in the past but I've yet to see their mission become the eradication of an entire people. That's where the line is crossed for me.

August 10, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
You're very close. :)

Generally, my aim is to level the field, bringing some balance to any debate. I challenge claims that Israel is "right," but I'd also challenge claims stating that Hezbollah is "right." It's just like I challenge claims that the ACLU is "wrong," because I'm aware of the ways the ACLU has strongly defended Christians, and since I value civil liberties, I think the ACLU is a great thing for people.

And in the end, I think my biggest beef is with polarization. The moment somebody tries to label man-made institutions as "right and wrong," I pretty much go on the offensive, because that's the actual focus of my argument. And I find that the groups that tend to pin those labels the most are the conservative/republican/christians, so my fight is often with them. One rarely rightly accuses a liberal of being "self-righteous," you know?

August 10, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
Regarding Israel's use of nonconventional/illegal weapons, there have been reports of Israel using phosphorus bombs which are solely designed to cause casualties... and Israel has openly defended the use of such weapons. The article, however, does say that in some areas it is difficult to tell if burns to victims have been caused by phosphorus bombs or by normal fire... so it's hard to say.

Of course, the now-standard use of depleted uranium in shells is occuring over Lebanon, just like it in Iraq by the US, which I think is nothing less than a crime against humanity, for which I think everyone that uses them should be subject to radiation for as long as their targets have been. That's probably the worse thing EVER.

August 10, 2006

Luke said:
Hmmm...definately something to think about.

Depleted uranium shells though? I have a depleted uranium bullet in my closet from an A-10 that I've had since I was about 10yrs old. I'm not sure if they're the same thing, but from my understanding depleted uranium is non-toxic as far as radiation goes, but is created because it is extremely dense metal that makes a maximum impact in a fire fight (plane vs plane or building). Maybe you know more about that than I do though

August 10, 2006

jovial_cynic said:
Yeah - depleted uranium shells. The main problem is that they turn to dust on impact, and become airborn in the breathe-it-in sense.

I could point you to specific sites on the subject, but googling up "depleted uranium iraq" is a good place to start.

Crime against humanity... no joke, man.

August 10, 2006

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