Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Think tank report indicates that Hezbullah used civilians as human shields

A 300-page report issued by a think tank that works closely with the IDF indicates that Hezbullah used civilians as human shields during this past summer's war in Lebanon. According to Reuven Ehrlich, a retired lieutenant colonel who now heads the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the report may help Israel to absolve itself of 'war crimes' charges for killing Lebanese civilians in this past summer's conflict.
The 300-page report, obtained by The Associated Press days before its scheduled release, seeks to bolster these claims. It includes documents, photos and video footage - billed as declassified, though much of it is similar to information that has appeared on TV newscasts and the Foreign Ministry Web site.

The report says Hizbullah operated from civilian areas to deter the IDF and gain a propaganda advantage. Guerrillas stashed weapons in hundreds of private homes and mosques, had fighters transporting missiles closely follow ambulances, and fired rockets near UN monitoring posts, the report says.

It also includes aerial photographs of what its authors say are Hizbullah bases, weapons and ammunition stores hidden within civilian population centers in south Beirut, southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

The use of human shields has implications beyond the Lebanon war, because other groups in the Mideast are doing the same, Ehrlich said.

"It is a phenomenon relevant to Israel's confrontation with Hizbullah in Lebanon and in Gaza, and is something the US and others working against terror have to grapple with," he said.
In a normal world, I have little doubt that if Israel were able to prove that the civilians that it killed were being used as human shields by Hezbullah, Israel should be acquitted. After all, using human shields is a direct violation of article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides that "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations." That would seem to imply that if a 'protected person' is present in a military area, and that person is killed by the opposing party's combatants, the opposing party and its combatants ought not to be responsible.

But we are Israelis and we do not live in a normal world. Our insane world will always find us liable. Just two weeks ago, Human Rights Watch slammed the 'Palestinians' for using human shields in Gaza, but then went on to say
In the event that such abuse takes place, however, parties to the conflict remain obliged under international humanitarian law to take precautionary measures and not to target civilians or cause excessive civilian injury or damage in relation to the anticipated concrete and direct military advantage.

In other words, while civilians placing themselves in the way of military actions take on heightened risks, they cannot be considered legitimate targets by the opposing force, and parties to the conflict should cancel or suspend attacks where excessive civilian damage is anticipated.
In other words, Hamas - or Hezbullah for that matter - is prohibited from using human shields to protect military targets, but Israel (and apparently only Israel since the Geneva Convention provides otherwise for the rest of the world as noted) may not attack a military target that is so protected, even if it is being used to target Israeli citizens.

Bottom line: this report is very nice and probably true. But if Israel's foreign ministry thinks that it's going to absolve us in a foreign court - let alone in the court of world opinion outside of a few western countries - they're whistling Dixie.


At 8:53 PM, Blogger Gideon said...

I have come to the conclusion that the whole concept of "innocent civilians" in an enemy country is completely wrong. It was certainly not in use during WWII when whole cities of "innocent civilians" were firebombed from the air. This is not to argue for amorality but for a very different morality. One that is not altruistic but proudly puts the lives of one's own citizens (including particularly one's soldiers -- who are ought to be far more precious to us than than the enemy's so-called "innocent civilians") above the lives of the aggressor's people. This applies to any essentially free country that is attacked without provocation, whether Israel or the United States. For details see here.


Post a Comment

<< Home