Sunday, July 30, 2006

The top story on everyone's evening news tonight was the Israeli attack on Qana, which killed at least 50 people in an apartment building, at least some of whom were civilians. Half of them were children.

TV1 used the word "massacre" at least 15 times during its news broadcast, which seemed rather partisan to me.

Israel's answer is that these deaths are Hezbollah's fault because Hezbollah started the war, and because Hezbollah uses civilians as human shields. That is, if Hezbollah hadn't wanted those civilians there, they wouldn't have been there.

And, of course, the Israelis do not blow buildings up at random. They hit that particular one because they knew that weapons were being stored there.

And, of course, the Israelis had warned the people of Qana that their town would be bombed, as it was a Hezbollah base, and that they should leave. The argument that all the roads were destroyed doesn't fly. Israel hasn't blown up every road in Lebanon. The civilians could have left the city on foot with no problems for the great majority--all they'd have to do is get a couple of kilometers out of town at most. If I were credibly informed that Barcelona would be bombed within the next few days, I would leave as soon as possible and on foot if necessary. Why didn't they?

Israel says that it fired two missiles into the building a couple of hours after midnight, and that the building did not collapse, killing many of the occupants, until nearly noon, eight or ten hours later. Assuming the Israelis are telling the truth, why didn't the inhabitants get out when they had the chance?

This tragedy happened because irregular forces, such as Hezbollah--guerrillas, terrorists, whatever you want to call them--hide behind non-combatants. Regular forces, such as the Israeli army, must answer to military law and to the chain of command. They are specifically prohibited from hiding behind civilians, and if they do so, they will be punished by their own superiors. Hezbollah terrorists are responsible to nobody, and they believe that the martyrdom of innocents helps their cause. So they do everything they can to promote it, in their own country and in other people's.

Today Hezbollah fired more than 150 rockets into Israel, the express purpose of each one to kill civilians.

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