Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Israel-Lebanon conflict continued

Read a somewhat shocking comment by someone who wondered why Israel is being condemned by the international community, even though "it has done nothing wrong".

Perhaps the events in the bombed-out Lebanese town of Qana is enough reason to think otherwise.

"There were different accounts of the death toll," reported the New York Times on Monday morning. "Residents said as many as 60 people had been inside. News agencies reported that 56 had been killed, and that 34 of them were children. The Lebanese Red Cross, which conducted the rescue, counted 27 bodies, as many of 17 of them children. The youngest of the dead was 10 months old, and the oldest was 95. One was in a wheelchair."
Ceasefire now

Again, the Israeli ‘Defence’ Force claimed that Hezbollah was using civilians as a human shield, and firing rockets from civilian buildings. Again, Israel claimed that it “deeply, deeply is sorrowful”. Being sorry does not exonerate you of your crimes. Amnesty International called Israel’s so-called “full and open investigation” into the civilian deaths as a “whitewash”. Qana ten years ago was also the site of another Israeli slaughter of civilians-- one which Amnesty International has described as "deliberate".

Both operations reflect the same predisposition to shun diplomacy and rely on military force to achieve political objectives. In both cases, civilian leaders accepted uncritically the advice of the military in order to bolster their popularity with the Israeli public.
Israel's error, then and now

Everyone is a terrorist, civilian or not. Even children and the elderly.

“After the first Qana massacre, the Israeli military rejected responsibility for the deaths, instead blaming Hezbollah because they thought fighters had entered the UN base. A similar Israeli justification, albeit the very definition of collective punishment, was given today - that they suspected Hezbollah militants had fired rockets from Qana. After the 1996 massacre, a UN investigation found no evidence to support the claim made by the Israeli military, and I suspect a similar investigation will find a similar verdict this time - that the Israeli military had no reason to bomb innocent civilians.

Astounding as this level of blood thirst is, it really cannot come as much of a surprise. Why not? Because just last Thursday, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon announced on Israeli army radio, "All those in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah." “
[Link mine]

It is reasonable to infer from newspaper coverage and television evidence that Israel has been noticeably disproportionate in its response to the abduction of two soldiers and the killing of eight others in a Hizbullah ambush three weeks ago. Asymmetric warfare, as it is currently fashionable to call the contest between regular armies and guerrilla forces, inevitably results in asymmetric casualties, at least 10 times higher in Lebanon than in Israel.
Israeli force can stop the rockets, but for how long?

Here's a powerful and convincing statement by a rabbi arguing that Israel--founded by racists and fascists under the banner of Zionism-- should not exist. I'm surprised that Murdoch's Fox empire actually allowed this rabbi to speak his mind so openly. (Thanks to Frits for the tip!)

Another example of 'your word against mine', between Israeli government spokeswoman defending the countries attacks on civilian buildings and a not-so-convinced CNN anchor

Israeli government spokeswoman: [Israel] did not target this building.
CNN anchor: Even though you had guided missiles, the building was not targeted.
[few seconds of silence]

What is Israel trying to achieve from all this current campaign, if anything? Secure its borders and protect its own civilians? Not when disproportionate military actions result in increasing Arab and world disdain and anger toward Israel behaviour. Support and sympathy from the rest of the world in its own efforts in the global war on terror? Hezbollah is more than a terrorist organisation, and cannot be wiped away in a matter of weeks.

The original aim of the present campaign was said to be to destroy Hezbollah. This aim, too, is completely unrealistic. No amount of external military pressure can bring about the forcible disarming of Hezbollah. […] In Lebanon Hezbollah is widely seen not as a terrorist organization but as an authentic Islamic resistance movement. It was not the Lebanese Army but Hezbollah that drove the mighty Israel Defense Force out of Lebanon in 2000 with its tail between its legs. Hezbollah empowers the poor and underprivileged Shiite community. To destroy Hezbollah, Israel would have to kill all the Shiite population.
Israel's error, then and now

[...]given that the Palestinian problem is no nearer solution and that by creating a wilderness in Lebanon and calling it peace Israel has recruited thousands of new martyrs to the Hizbullah cause, military and diplomatic planners are going to have to ask themselves how long the respite will last. Was Israel's disproportionate response worth the cost of strengthening Arab hatred, alienating world opinion yet again and, last but not least, inviting criticism from a growing number of diaspora Jews who wish for Israel to live in security but find it increasingly difficult to condone what is being done by the Jewish state in their name? [...]
Israeli force can stop the rockets, but for how long?

How does Israel then expect the EU to stop "preaching" about its behaviour?
Interesting to note that Ehud Olmert answers to EU criticism of the death of civillians with the "if you can do it, why can't we" attitude. Olmert misquotes the number of casualties in the Kosovo war, saying that European coalition killded "tens thousand", when in fact it was around 500. As expected, the compliance and refusal of the Bush administration to outrightly condemn Israel is having "courage [...] to speak the truth". Original interview by Welt am Sonntag in German.

Peace please! The people cannot wait for politicians to discuss and debate while so many are falling victims to this unnecessary conflict.

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