Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Don't get in the way

Israel would not want to produce another Qana so soon after the Sunday's bloody carnage. But they did, as they continue to do almost every day. Which is why I was rather curious to see a story about the latest Israeli assault on the civilian population, stemming, as they always do, from an unwavering, bloody-minded pursuit of Hezbollah.

The Daily Mail's coverage of today's hospital bombing in Baalbek has changed considerably since the story first appeared. Earlier, the DM simply reported that Israelis had launched a commando raid on the hospital in Baalbek and, after claiming to have taken a few Hezbollah militants as prisoners, ordered an airstrike that decimated the structure. Here is what was originally noted:
An Israeli air strike on a Lebanon hospital and its surrounding area killed 19 civilians including four children, according to reports today. The attack was part of an Israeli commando raid to capture suspected Hezbollah militants.

After the Israeli commandos withdrew, air strikes destroyed the three-storey al-Hikmah hospital, which had been evacuated before the raid.
Some or all of this is confusing and contradicotry. How were 19 civilians killed if the hospital had been evacuated? Or was Israel pummeling outlying areas around the hospital as well? In a word, yes. In fact, the civilians were left for dead in the surrounding neighbourhood as Israeli gunship pounded the town. And while this was yet another dim and ugly refrain of the same carnage we've been hearing of for what has now been three weeks, the Daily Mail headline later in the day, indeed, the whole story has done an about face. I'll quote some here, because given how much the story has changed since this morning, who knows how long it will last. The title is the first give-away that the meme had been completely rehashed:
Carnage as guerillas trap Israeli troops in hospital
Clearly, the dead were all the guerillas' fault, working an ambush on Israeli troops now 80 miles inside the Lebanese border. Apparently, Israeli officials were able to "correct" the initial story that implied yet another blithe Israeli attack that killed a score of civilians.

Perhaps it was the word "hospital" that prompted a need to get the ambush story out. Because Israelis seemed less concerned with other reports of other ferocious attacks on other towns.
During the offensive, missiles struck the village of Al Jamaliyeh, less than a mile from the hospital. One hit the home of the village's mayor, Hussein Jamaleddin, instantly killing his son, brother, and five other relatives.

A family of seven - a mother, father and their five children - were killed in another air raid on an area near Al Jamaliyeh, witnesses said. Some victims were sheltering under a tree when they died. Among the dead was a pregnant woman. A van driver was also killed when another missile struck nearby.

At least 12 civilians were killed when Israeli air strikes hit the village of Al Jammaliyeh near Baalbek ...

Another family of five were killed in a strike on the village of Saath.

Indeed, Israelis even managed to blow up a Lebanese army post, again.
The three Lebanese soldiers were killed when Israeli planes bombed their army post in the village of Sarba.
Hardly a supportive move for a Lebanese army the US and Israel thinks should stand up to Hezbollah. In fact, Israeli attacks on the Lebanese army could turn them into Hezlbollah. No doubt, though, the Israelis are dreadfully sorry and will conduct a "full investigation," just like they'll do for the attack on the UN observation post.

While Israelis claim that they captured five Hezbollah guerrillas, the goup has said that the raid succeeded in actually capturing a 60 year old grocery story owner and two of his relatives who had been seized from their homes and not in the hospital at all. Well, who knows, but they'll wind up in an Israeli prisoner indefinitely anyway. What makes Israeli premier Ehud Olmert's claim that these captured militants were "tasty fish" a tad hard to swallow is the fact that Olmert also claimed that Israel's offensive had "totally destroyed" Hezbollah while some 210 Hezbollah rockets came pouring into Israel. Olmert appears to be taking some talking point lessons from the White House.

Despite the insanity that continues to ensue, one passage managed to stand out, a passage that, curiously, has also disappeared:
Israel is seeking to damage Hizbollah as much as it can before diplomacy ends the war.
It appears the media has not yet stumbled upon the fact that this current offensive will end exactly when Israel wants it to end and not before. Their three week battle plan, while having played out exactly as Israeli officials described it over a year ago, has not had nearly the effect on Hezbollah the IDF had imagined. But the assault has no doubt produced far more civilian deaths than they probably imagined, too, given as the military is toward hyping the "precision" of their smart bombs.

We have been unremittingy told that 9/11 changed everything. And most of those "things" have involved various governments' perceived need to exercise new and unprecedented power by governments normally and previously constrained by the rule of law. Indeed, in the United States, George Bush and his handlers have flatly declared that, as president in these harrowing times, he is not bound by law at all; he is the law. And international law is hardly even a slight concern anymore.

But among the many things we have seen change lately is now on full view in Lebanon and, previously, Gaza. Civilian deaths and attacks on civilian population centers are fully endorsed by these particular governments, since "terrorists" hide within. The presence of civilians is now of so little note, it is now argued that the victims of misguided "precision guided" bombs and putative attacks on militant groups are the ones to be blamed for being "in the way." These governments now have such a relentless and merciless view of their actions against an enemy, nothing will deter their aggression, no number of dead children or pregnant women will stand in the way of military objectives, however ill-defined or unrealistic those may be. The United States, of course, set the bar for this behaviour in Iraq and it should not surprise that Israel is acting it out with the Bush administration's full approval.

These condoned actions can be seen as the international equivalent of police simply shooting a hostage-taker along with the hostages. It certainly makes things simple. The thinking broached by Israelis is something along these lines: maybe hostage takers will soon learn that hostages don't matter. They will simply kill everyone and be done with it. And all the while, they will tell us that these are the actions of the civilized world.


Blogger Kel said...

The death of civilians is now being laid at the doors of the civilians themselves. Ehud Olmert said that he had ordered civilans to flee, so - by this logic - it follows that they are either terrorists or terrorist suuporters.

Israel admonishes herself simply because she asked them to leave.

Forgetting, of course, that the reason they may be afraid to leave is that Israel keeps attacking civilan convoys as they attempt to make their escape.

5:52 AM  

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