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July 31, 2006
Putting Qana In Perspective

When we or our allies go to war, we expect the maximum effort to adhere to the modern conventions of warfare, especially in protecting civilian populations. Unfortunately, the success for such efforts largely depend on the nature of the enemy. An enemy that does not concern itself with protecting civilian populations -- in fact, one that hides itself and its weapons among civilians for tactical and political purposes -- makes civilian casualties impossible to avoid. That Israel faces such an enemy should surprise no one, especially considering the tactics used by their enemies now and for the last generation, as Naomi Ragen reminds us in Arutz Sheva.

Ragen describes an incident experienced by her son's friend in the current conflict:

The village looked empty, and then we heard noises coming from one of the houses, so we opened fire. But when we went inside, we found two women and a child huddled in the corner of the room. We were so relieved we hadn't hurt them. We took up base in one of the empty houses. And then, all of a sudden, we came under intense fire. Three rockets were fired at the house we were in. Only one managed to destroy a wall, which fell on one of us, covering him in white dust, but otherwise not hurting him. I spent the whole time feeding bullets to my friend who was shooting non-stop. We managed to kill 26 terrorists. Not one of us was hurt.

Our commanding officer kept walking around, touching everybody on the shoulder, smiling and encouraging us: "We're are better than they are. Don't worry." It calmed us all down. And really, we were much better than them. They are a lousy army. They only win when they hide behind baby carriages.

Please remember this when you hear about the "atrocity" of the Israeli bomb (allegedly) dropped on Kfar Kana, killing many civilians, a place from which Hizbullah has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel. Unlike previous administrations, Mr. Ehud Olmert has my respect when he says: "They were warned to leave. It is the responsibility of Hizbullah for firing rockets amidst civilians."

Terrorists and their supporters have lost the right to complain about civilian casualties, since all they have done this entire war is target civilians. Every single one of the more than 2,500 rockets launched into Israel is launched into populated towns filled with women and children. Just today, another suicide belt meant to kill civilians in Israel was detonated harmlessly by our forces in Nablus.

So, don't cry to me about civilian casualties. Cry to those using your babies and wives and mothers; cry to those who store weapons in mosques, ambulances, hospitals and private homes. Cry to those launching deadly rockets from the backyards of your kindergartens and schools. Cry to the heartless men who love death, and who, however many of their troops or civilians die, consider themselves victorious as long as they can keep on firing rockets at our women and children.

Lest the New York Times editorial board accuse me of endorsing the terrorist standard for warfare as they did in their irresponsible editorial on Joe Lieberman yesterday, let me be clear: civilian deaths should be avoided as much as possible. When accidents happen, they should get investigated promptly to avoid them in the future. When the cause of avoidable civilian deaths are no accident, then the perpetrators should face court-martial.

However, the world needs to temper their outrage over the accidental and collateral civilian deaths with a lot more outrage over the tactics of Israel's enemies. Hezbollah has from the opening momemts of this war targeted civilian populations on purpose, firing 2500 rockets at Israeli cities and displacing over 300,000 civilians in the process. They routinely position their fighters among civilian populations and dress them to blend into residential neighborhoods. Civilian deaths are not collateral damage in Hezbollah's strategy, but a key component of their battle plan.

So let's hear a little less moral outrage over Qana, and let's start hearing a lot more moral outrage over Hezbollah's tactics. We don't want to fight like the terrorists, but it would be nice if so-called global leaders recognized the difference and pointed it out publicly. Otherwise, it becomes a tacit endorsement of terrorist tactics, and it only encourages more of the same. (via It Shines For All)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 31, 2006 8:02 AM

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