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July 30, 2006

Qana -- And Why It Doesn't Matter

With the dawn come reports of the deaths of dozens of Lebanese, many of them children, as a result of an Israeli airstrike on the Lebanese village of Qana.

At least 60 civilians were killed on Sunday after the IAF fired missiles at buildings in the southern Lebanse twon of Qana.

Some 35 bodies have been recovered from a building that collapsed, but more were still stuck under the rubble, Lebanon's official news agency reported.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the conflict "hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Qana area."

Olmert stressed that there was no IDF policy of targeting innocent civilians, as opposed to Hizbullah that has launched rockets "with the aim of murdering innocent civilians in northern Israel."

On one level, I feel shock and outrage. I am truly saddened by the deaths of civilians. But my anger is directed not at the Israelis, but at the Hezbollah cowards who have been hiding in and attacking from civilian areas in an attempt to protect themselves and gain a propaganda victory from the deaths of the civilians they put in harms way. It has not been that long since I posted photos that clearly demonstrate that Hezbollah tactic, and the condemnation of the jihadi group by a UN official for doing so.

Yet on another level, I am not at all troubled by these casualties. Lebanon allows Hezbollah to operate freely within its borders. It has a role in the government. It is among the largest employers in Lebanon. Indeed, the Lebanese president has even hinted that he might have the Lebanese Army join forces with the jihadis of the Party of (the false god) Allah against the Israelis who have responded to repeated attacks upon civilian targets from within Lebanon. The Lebanese government has allowed this terrorist menace to flourish, and now all of Lebanon must pay the price -- even if that price involves civilian casualties.

I need go no further back in history than WWII, "the good war". In that conflict, which was certainly an example of what one would call "total war", the casualties of the Axis aggressors were high -- and included many civilians who found themselves in harm's way due to the misdeeds of their government. While American and British casualties were under 1% of their respective populations, the Japanese suffered over 3% casualties, including the deaths of many civilians in the conventional bombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Germany suffered the loss of over 10% of its population, including many to the relentless bombing campaigns of the Allies in places like Dresden. And yet no one with an ounce of moral decency would argue that those deaths were unjustified, unnecesary, or disproportionate. Indeed, they were tragic, but they were also a necessary part of bringing about a speedy victory with far fewer casualties on both sides than would otherwise have been needed.

If Israel were to adopt the model used by the Allies in WWII, much of Lebanon would be flattened by now. Even if the much more restrained model used by America in Vietnam were employed, the civilian casualties would be much higher due to the carpet-bombing of entire sectors where the enemy is operating. Israel has not done that at all, and has sought to limit civilian casualties even when it puts Israeli troops at risk.

The events at Qana raise the specter of history repeating itself.

Ten years ago, Israel was forced to suspend Operation Grapes of Wrath against Hizbullah after artillery shells accidentally killed over 100 Lebanese refugees in the same village.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora demanded an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and insisted on an investigation into the Qana attack.

The withdrawal a decade ago in the face of world outrage allowed Hezbollah to regroup, rearm, and recruit a new generation of jihadis -- those who fight today. The earlier withdrawal following a tragedy in Qana can in fact be seen as the beginning of a chain of events which gave rise to the current war. Will the same mistake be made today?

War, as General Sherman told us long ago, is Hell. One part of that Hell is that unintended civilian deaths occur -- especially when one side hides among the non-combattants. And yet that cannot be the basis for putting an end to a just fight or accepting a cease-fire that allows the aggressor to regroup and continue its attacks at a later date. Terrorism must not be allowed to succeed; terrorists must not be allowed a strategic victory. Israel must continue its battle against the jihadis of Hezbollah -- not just for its own security, but also for that of Lebanon, the Middle East, and the world as a whole.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Stop the ACLU, Conservative Cat, Adam's Blog, Stuck on Stupid, Freedom Watch, Blue Star Chronicles, Third World County, Madman Returns, Random Yak





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