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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More on the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report

I know have more details for you on that Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report that I blogged earlier today.

First, the Center itself has released the Foreward, some details about the study and its table of contents. You can find those here. Here are some highlights:
3. The construction of a broad military infrastructure, positioned and hidden in populated areas, was intended to minimize Hezbollah's vulnerability. In addition it was designed to provide it with a kind of immunity to IDF attacks by using civilians as human shields, rely on the knowledge that it is IDF commitment to avoid harming civilians whenever possible. Hezbollah would also gain a propaganda advantage if it could represent Israel as attacking innocent civilians, which in fact was exactly what happened during the last war in Lebanon (“the second Lebanon war.”).

4. Hezbollah's long-term plan , which was speeded up when the IDF withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, was to a construct orderly, organized military infrastructure within densely populated areas . They were established in the southern neighborhoods of Beirut (especially in Harat Hreik, where the organization's command center is located), in south Lebanon (especially south of the Litani River , the heart of its operational infrastructure) and in the Beqa'a Valley (especially in the region of Baalbek , where its training and logistics facilities are located).

5. Hezbollah's main deployments are the following:
a. Offensive : Before the outbreak of the second Lebanon war, Hezbollah stockpiled an arsenal of more than 20,000 rockets of various ranges, including long-range rockets capable of reaching both the north and center of Israel . They were primarily concentrated in south Lebanon and for the most part kept in designated storehouses located in civilian structures (private residences and public institutions) in many towns and villages. That enabled Hezbollah to wage a long-term campaign against Israel and to inflict extensive damage on its civilian population. Hezbollah aspired to create a balance of deterrence with Israel and exploit it to carry out attacks and encourage terrorism in the Palestinian Authority-administered territories, and at the same time to continue building up its military power in Lebanon.

b. Defensive : Hezbollah's defensive deployment is based on its military infrastructure south of the Litani River and in the hills around Nabatiya. Its objective was to enable Hezbollah to conduct guerilla attacks against the IDF with advanced anti-tank missiles, engineering forces and well-trained and well-equipped infantry. Its defensive infrastructure is based on a broad deployment within the Shi'ite towns and villages south of the Litani River and the intention to wage determined urban warfare (a concept well-illustrated by operational plans captured by the IDF during the war). To complement its military infrastructure within populated areas, Hezbollah also constructed such an infrastructure in non-populated areas, but its function is secondary in its overall defensive strategy.

c. Logistic : Hezbollah's logistic deployment consists of numerous storehouses of weapons scattered throughout Lebanon , particularly south Lebanon , which enable Hezbollah to engage in protracted warfare against Israel . To that end Hezbollah instituted a broad logistic system in south Lebanon based on hundreds of private residences and public institutions (including mosques ). It also makes extensive use of Lebanon's road system to transport weapons from Syria to its forces in south Lebanon (as happened during the war), and of Lebanon's communications and mass media capabilities, among them its own media.
6. Hezbollah's exploitation of Lebanese residents as human shields for its military infrastructure was well-illustrated during the second Lebanon war. It carried out stubborn urban fighting and launched thousands of rockets at Israeli cities and towns from close proximity to private residences and public institutions . Hezbollah had advance plans to turn many villages into ground-fighting arenas against the IDF, cynically exploiting the local civilian population (such exploitation is considered a war crime and gross violation of international laws governing armed conflict ). At the present time Hezbollah is rehabilitating the military infrastructure damaged during the war with no change in its basic policy of hiding within the civilian population.

7. The documentary section of this study provides proof , based on a wide range of intelligence sources, of the use of civilians as human shields and the deliberate shelling of Israeli cities and towns. Its main sections include:
a. Aerial photographs of Hezbollah headquarters, bases, offices, weapons and ammunition stores, and intelligence and propaganda installations. The military infrastructure located by the aerial photographs is shown to be positioned and hidden within clearly civilian population centers in south Beirut , south Lebanon and the Beqa'a Valley.

b. Examples of locating the military infrastructure within population centers and of launching rockets close to private residences and public institutions , taken from a wide variety of sources: aerial photographs, land photographs taken by IDF forces, aerial photograph interpretation, seized documents, interrogations of Hezbollah detainees, radar screens of rocket fire from within villages and television footage.

c. Proof that Hezbollah deliberately fired rockets (including fragment-spraying rockets ) at population centers and civilian facilities in Israel . The following sources were used: analysis and reconstruction of the rocket remains found in Israel, public statements made by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, seized Hezbollah documents, and announcements made by Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV and its other communications media.

8. In addition to the text, the study includes a CD of selected material documenting Hezbollah's operational activities conducted from within the Lebanese population and the rocket fire aimed at Israeli settlements . It also includes examples of footage photographed by the IDF from the air and on the ground, television network footage, recorded information obtained from three Hezbollah detainees, a selection of public statements made by Hassan Nasrallah and announcements aired by the Hezbollah-controlled media.

11. It should be noted that the IDF's air strikes and ground attacks against Hezbollah targets located in population centers were carried out in accordance with international law , which does not grant immunity to a terrorist organization deliberately hiding behind civilians supporting it, using them as human shields. Attacks against Hezbollah targets and the Lebanese infrastructure serving Hezbollah's military activities were carried out during the war in accordance with the statutes of international law governing the conduct of war, and Israel was within its rights to defend itself, its security and the health and welfare of its citizens. During the war, as a whole, the decision-making process during the war in the IDF which related to the attacks was accompanied by legal counsel from Military Advocate General's Corps .
Additionally, the New York Times received an advance copy of the report, and has an extensive write up about it, including some of the photograph and video highlights, starting here. Here are some of the highlights from the Times report:
In a new report, an Israeli research group says Hezbollah stored weapons in mosques, battled Israelis from inside empty schools, flew white flags while transporting missiles and launched rockets near United Nations monitoring posts.


The report includes Israeli Air Force video that it says shows several instances of Hezbollah personnel firing rockets next to residential buildings in southern Lebanon and then being bombed by Israel. The adjacent buildings were presumably damaged, but there is no information on whether civilians were inside.

“This study explains the dilemma facing the Israeli military as it fights an enemy that intentionally operates from civilian areas,” Mr. Erlich said. “This is the kind of asymmetric warfare we are seeing today. It’s not only relevant to Lebanon, but is also what we are seeing in the Gaza Strip and in Iraq.”

The report says: “The construction of a broad military infrastructure, positioned and hidden in populated areas, was intended to minimize Hezbollah’s vulnerability. Hezbollah would also gain a propaganda advantage if it could represent Israel as attacking innocent civilians.”

In video from July 23, a truck with a multi-barreled missile launcher, presumably from Hezbollah, is parked in a street, sandwiched between residential buildings. The video was transmitted from an Israeli missile approaching the truck. The screen goes fuzzy as the missile slams into the target.

In another video, from a Lebanese village, rockets are seen being fired from a launcher on the back of a truck. The truck then drives a short distance and disappears inside a building. Seconds later, the building itself disappears under a cloud of smoke from an Israeli bomb.


Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese Army general, said of the Israeli allegations, “Of course there are hidden invisible tunnels, bunkers of missile launchers, bunkers of explosive charges amongst civilians.”

He added: “You cannot separate the southern society from Hezbollah, because Hezbollah is the society and the society is Hezbollah. Hezbollah is holding this society together through its political, military and economic services. It is providing the welfare for the south.”

Asked whether Hezbollah should be seen as responsible for the deaths of Lebanese civilians in the war, he replied: “Of course Hezbollah is responsible. But these people are ready to sacrifice their lives for Hezbollah. If you tell them, ‘Your relative died,’ they will tell you ‘No, he was a martyr.’ The party’s military preparations from 2000 till 2006 took place in their areas. They were of course done with complete secrecy, but in accordance with the civilians.”


The Israeli report included video of what it said were three Hezbollah prisoners being questioned by Israeli military personnel.

Muhammad Srour, a young Hezbollah fighter, said he had initially received training in Iran and was undergoing further training in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley when the war broke out. He was sent to the front lines.

Like many Hezbollah fighters, he traveled by motorbike, but they were frequently the targets of Israeli forces. While transporting missiles, hidden in cloth, in and around the southern village of Aita al Shaab, “I carried a white flag,” Mr. Srour said.

Hezbollah operated freely from homes in the village, with the permission of residents who had fled. The departing residents either left their doors unlocked or gave their keys to Hezbollah, he said. Mr. Srour acknowledged that homes used by Hezbollah were more likely to draw fire.

But, he said, “better that the house is destroyed and the Israelis don’t enter and come back to conquer Lebanon.”

Another captured fighter, Hussein Suleiman, explained how he had set up a rocket-firing position on the front porch of a house on the outskirts of Aita al Shaab.

A third Hezbollah man, Maher Kourani, said group members had worn civilian clothes, tried never to show their weapons, and traveled in ordinary civilian cars. “We use Volvos, Mercedes, BMW,” he said. “We use Range Rovers, too.” [And you wonder why Lebanon claimed so many 'civilians' were killed this summer? CiJ]

The Israeli report makes frequent references to Hezbollah’s using Lebanese civilians as human shields, though it cites only two villages where it says Hezbollah prevented residents from leaving. Mr. Erlich acknowledged that over all, Hezbollah did not use coercion against Lebanese civilians.

Rather, he said, “Hezbollah was operating inside a supportive population, and cynically used them to further its own goals.”

Earlier today I told you that regardless of how strong the report's proof is of Hezbullah's use of human shields, it would never be enough for the 'world community' to stop finding Israel guilty. The Times article indicates that my prediction in that regard is correct.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, wrote shortly after the war that the Israeli military “seemed to assume that because it gave warnings to civilians to evacuate southern Lebanon, anyone who remained was a Hezbollah fighter.”

He wrote, “But giving warnings, as required by international humanitarian law, does not relieve the attacker of the duty to distinguish between civilians and combatants and to target only combatants.”

Amnesty International said that Israel “consistently failed to adopt necessary precautionary measures,” and that its forces “carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on a large scale.”

In effect, the human rights groups are saying that the terrorists are not allowed to use human shields, but if they do, we have to grin and bear the civilian casualties on our side.

I am sure we will hear more about this report in the days ahead - if Israel's foreign ministry gets its act together and does its job. But if any of you still have doubts whether Israel was justified in its activities in Lebanon this summer, this report should help you resolve those doubts.


At 6:10 AM, Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

So they used human shields.. So what!

How about this...

Too much talk, not enough Naplam & cluster bombs.

When an enemy of the Jewish people attempts to MURDER jews, the simple solution is to BOMB them.

I know I sound crude, but ya know something? SO WHAT!

Here is a new dynamic, if you shoot at me, it is as good as hitting me as I will shoot back 10 fold.

Now, let's all hold hands and sing kumbya my lord....


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