Israel, Not Hizbullah, is Putting Civilians in Danger on Both Sides of the Border
by War of Media Deception
Here are some interesting points raised this week by a leading commentator and published in a respected daily newspaper: "The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert embeds his soldiers in Israeli communities, next to schools, beside hospitals, close to welfare centres, ensuring that any Israeli target is also a civilian target. This is the practice the UN's Jan Egeland had in mind when he lambasted Israel's 'cowardly blending ... among women and children'. It may be cowardly, but in the new warfare it also makes macabre sense. For this is a propaganda war as much as a shooting one, and in such a conflict to lose civilians on your own side represents a kind of victory."
You probably did not read far before realising that I had switched "Israel" for "Hizbullah" and "Ehud Olmert" for "Hassan Nasrallah". The paragraph was taken from an opinion piece by Jonathan Freedland published in Britain's Guardian newspaper on 2 August. My attempt at deception was futile because no one seems to seriously believe that criticisms of the kind expressed above can be levelled against Israel.
Freedland, like most commentators in our media, assumes that Hizbullah is using the Lebanese population as "human shields", hiding its fighters, arsenals and rocket launchers inside civilian areas. "Cowardly" behaviour rather than the nature of Israel's air strikes, in his view, explains the spiralling death toll among Lebanese civilians. This perception of Hizbullah's tactics grows more common by the day, even though it flies in the face of the research of independent observers in Lebanon such as Human Rights Watch.
Explaining the findings of its latest report, HRW's executive director, Kenneth Roth, blames Israel for targeting civilians indiscriminately in Lebanon. "The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military's disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians. Our research shows that Israel's claim that Hezbollah [sic] fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel's indiscriminate warfare."
HRW has analysed the casualty figures from two dozen Israeli air strikes and found that more than 40 per cent of the dead are children: 63 out of 153 fatalities. Conservatively, HRW puts the civilian death toll so far at over 500. Lebanese hospital records suggest the figure is now well over 750, with potentially many more bodies yet to be excavated from the rubble of buildings obliterated by Israeli attacks.
Giving the lie to the "human shields" theory, HRW says its researchers "found numerous cases in which the IDF [Israeli army] 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."