mother-in-law used to sit up in bed armed with a red plastic fly swat. The
problem was the flies almost always got away while friends and family bore the
brunt of her flaying around. Her accuracy was hampered by dimming sight but
what excuse does Israel have?
It�s clear that
Israel hasn�t played by the rules of war and what�s more a growing number of
Israelis know it.
host on Israel National Radio told his audience that Israel must win at all
cost even if this means the death of Lebanese civilians. We can always try and
explain ourselves to the international community when the conflict is over, he
But are we that
gullible? How does Israel explain the bombing of clearly-marked Red Cross
ambulances, convoys of refugees fleeing from southern Lebanon on Israel�s
say-so, apartment blocks that are homes to countless civilians and a
three-decade old UNIFIL border post?
And how does Israel
justify its refusal to allow much needed aid to reach the south, a stance that
was condemned in no uncertain terms by a Red Cross spokesman, who said he had
never encountered such a situation anywhere in the world.
legal association, Adalah, says Israel�s actions are war crimes according to
precedents set by the International Court in The Hague.
Adalah has written
to Israel�s attorney general quoting the following International Court ruling
relating to crimes committed by the former Yugoslavia�s politicians and senior
military personnel. �The acts of war carried out with disregard for
international humanitarian law and in hatred of other people, the villages
reduced to rubble, the houses and stables set on fire and destroyed, the people
forced to abandon their homes, the lost and broken lives are unacceptable.�
In fact, Israel�s
crimes have been on a much bigger scale, reducing not only villages to rubble
but also major towns and a large area of the Lebanese capital.
Israel has also destroyed
countless houses and is directly responsible for over one million Lebanese
leaving their homes and heading north, where many are forced to camp out in
with accusations that Israel is going after civilians, its spokespersons repeat
the same mantra: Hezbollah is firing rockets from the midst of civilian
First, this is
unlikely to be true since Hezbollah does not trust civilians but even if in
some cases it were, then why does Israel continually bomb the southern suburbs
of Beirut? Hezbollah isn�t firing short-range Katushas from Beirut as it is too
far away from northern Israel.
There is only one
explanation for Israel�s barbarity -- revenge. It can�t swat Hezbollah so it is
out to collectively punish the Lebanese people. Another war crime.
Emile Lahoud explains Israel�s frustration. They can�t destroy Hezbollah
fighters because they can�t find them, he said. That�s exactly right.
returning from the south Lebanon war zone have admitted it. They complain of an
eerie silence during the day with not a soul to be seen. Then when they camp
out at night or temporarily base themselves in an empty dwelling, they are
invariably ambushed by Hezbollah guerrillas.
The Israelis call
this a type of asymmetrical warfare, while Arab television networks describe it
as a completely new type of combat style destined to go down in history.
One thing is sure:
The top Israeli military brass didn�t expect it and don�t know how to deal with
it. One month after the commencement of hostilities, Hezbollah rockets were
still being launched from south of the Litani River, where Israel now has up to
This inability of
the Israeli military to protect its citizens is shocking to most Israelis, who
grew up believing their army was invincible.
flying across the entire spectrum of Israeli society with most of it directed
at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He is being blamed for thinking the war could be
won by bombs alone and by dithering when advised to launch a massive ground
A column in the
Israeli daily Ha�aretz by Ari Shavit, titled �Olmert Must Go,� reads: �Chutzpah
has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory,
produce humiliating defeat and remain in power.�
A poll in the same
newspaper shows that support for the way that Olmert was conducting the
conflict stands at a mere 48 percent, down from 75 percent four weeks ago.
But before we
gloat, we should remember that Binyamin Netanyahu, the right-wing hawk who
leads the Likud Party, is waiting in the wings hoping to capitalize on Olmert�s
defeat and it is likely he�ll succeed. Israelis are concerned about two things,
their country�s loss of deterrent power and the weakening of their strategic
usefulness to the US.
They are correct on
Israel�s foes will
no longer be overawed by its mythical reputation of indestructibility. After
all, with all its planes, helicopters, bombs, missiles and tanks it could not
succeed against a few thousand guerrillas.
And word has it the
Bush administration is very disappointed at Israel�s inability to quash
Hezbollah. What use is a strategic ally that is paid to the tune of over $3
billion a year if it can�t carry out instructions effectively?
And so their next
prime minister is likely to be chosen for his hawkish stance.
Unlike several of
my colleagues, I do not believe the truce will hold. As long as Israel digs in
until the arrival of the Lebanese Army and a beefed-up UNIFIL a simple match
could light up another conflagration.
government and its generals should be prosecuted for crimes against civilians
under the UN Charter Article 22 and be forced to make reparation for the
willful destruction of Lebanese infrastructure.
Holding Israel to
account is admittedly a political minefield, but it is one that the
international community must not shirk.
Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on
Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.