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8/04/2006 11:52:00 PM | Justin

Israeli IDF deliberately targets lebanese civilians, according to Human Rights Watch (link)

I couldn't believe it at first when I read that a good deal more than half of the casualties in lebanon have been civilians. As I pointed out in a comment to Jared's posting, this percentage is actually considerably higher than the percentage of Israeli casualties that have been civilian. This reality subverts the popular notion that Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations by definition target civilians while Israel attacks only military targets. The Israeli explanation of the massive civilian casualties in lebanon has thus far been to blame them on Hezbollah's alleged used to civilian human shields. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if some in Hamas and Hezbollah have been guilty of such crimes in the past, but interestingly, the Human Rights Watch report which thoroughly investigated a couple dozen different strikes in southern lebanon, has found no evidence of the deliberate use of human shields by Hezbollah. Nor have they found evidence of Hezbollah activity anywhere near many of the places hit by Israeli strikes.

To anyone who cares, I recommend looking over the HRW report, because it's a real eye-opener. Israel drops flyers on towns telling people to leave immediately, then bombs their cars as they leave. And according to Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon, "All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah." This statement betrays the egregious nature of the Israeli attack plan. How can one reasonably claim that half the country of lebanon are terrorists? If the Israeli government is acting on this conviction, it explains their indiscriminate bombing policy.

I've included a few noteworthy quotes below.

From HRW's press release:

Human Rights Watch researchers found numerous cases in which the IDF launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious military objectives but excessive civilian cost. In many cases, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some instances, Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians. (link)
Peter Bouckaert, one of the HRW research has also published an editorial in the herald tribune that suggests Israel's disregard for civilians in lebanon has been worse than many recent comparable wars:

As a researcher for Human Rights Watch, I've documented civilian deaths from bombing campaigns in Kosovo and Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. But these usually occur when there is some indication of military targeting: high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's regime present in a house just before it is hit, for example, or an attack against militants that causes the collateral deaths of many civilians. In Lebanon, it's a different scene. Time after time, Israel has hit civilian homes and cars in the southern border zone, killing dozens of people with no evidence of any military objective.

My notebook overflows with reports of civilian deaths. On July 15, Israeli fire killed 21 people fleeing from Marhawin, including 13 children; no weapons, no Hezbollah nearby. On July 16, an Israeli bomb killed 11 civilians in Aitaroun, including seven members of a Canadian-Lebanese family on vacation; again, no Hezbollah, no weapons. On July 19, at least 26 civilians were killed in Srifa when Israeli bombs flattened an entire neighborhood; no evidence of military targets. On July 23, at least seven civilians were killed when Israeli warplanes bombed dozens of cars trying to flee the south after receiving Israeli instructions to evacuate immediately; no indication of weapons convoys in the vicinity. The list goes on, with about 500 civilians killed so far (link)



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