Jul. 26, 2006

Israel hits UN post

Anyone concerned about human values and peace should speak up clearly against what Israel is doing to Lebanon and Gaza. As if things weren't bad enough already, Israel has crossed yet another moral and legal boundary by bombing a UN observer post, killing four unarmed observers, including one Canadian.

Kofi Annan has stated that the attack was deliberate, and it sure looks that way. This was not one stray bomb. Israeli artillery shelled the post for six hours, despite ten telephone calls from the UN team to the Israeli military telling them to cease and desist. The observers were holed up in a hardened bunker, and in the end the Israelis took them out with a precision guided bunker-buster missile. This would require deliberate targetting. Nor is it credible that Israeli intelligence would not know, from the outset, where all the UN posts were located.

The response of our stirling leader, PM Harper, was to defend the Israeli military;

We’re going to want to get all the information before making a judgment,I can tell you that I certainly doubt that [Kofi Annan's allegation] to be the case given that the government of Israel has been co-operating with us in our evacuation efforts and our attempts to move Canadian citizens out of Lebanon and also trying to keep our own troops that are on the ground involved in the evacuation out of harm’s way.

He also pledged to work with the Israeli authorities to get to the bottom of it. Yes, Steve, I'm sure they'll be very helpful. And he had the temerity to put some blame on the UN for leaving the soldiers in "harm's way." In their hardened bunker, with a direct line to the Israeli command, doing the job they were sent there to do.

An Israeli army spokesman was interviewed on CBC radio and when asked specifically about the phone calls, he didn't answer at all but launched into a lengthy rant about the "war on global terror" including the fantastic allegation that Hizbollah, unless stopped now, would soon be lobbing missiles into Europe.

He also stated that this war was forced on Israel. What's that about the first casualty of war? The fact is that the two Israelis captured by Hizbollah were on the Lebanese side of the border.
Entering another country, in uniform and under arms, is an act of war. The incident merely provided a convenient pretext for a campaign which had been in the planning stage for at least a year.

By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board."

More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified.

It is just common sense that a campaign of this magnitude couldn't be launched at a moment's notice.

Getting back to the UN post; if the attack was indeed deliberate (and it is very hard to escape that conclusion) then that raises the obvious question; why would Israel want to get the observers out of South Lebanon?

Could it be that they have something to hide?

According to Human Rights Watch, Israel is now dropping cluster bombs on Lebanese villages, and have already killed and wounded men, women and children. Meanwhile, the Lebanese Minister of Health says wounded children are suffering from the impact of white phosphorus. The Lebanese president repeated the claim yesterday. As Israel pushes further into Lebanon, it continues to target civilians, in one incident blowing up a house and killing the family inside. A Times reporter has told ABC news that he has witnessed the deliberate targeting of civilians
This is beginning to look a lot like ethnic cleansing.


Tom said...

It's not ethnic cleansing. But a cleansing of a different sort.

When the US blew up the Chinese embassy in Serbia when the US was trying to prevent ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, it certainly seemed like payback of some sort. And whatever it was about, it seemed like a message that the Chinese would clearly understand.

I would wager the Israelis blew up the UN observer post intentionally and the reason had to do with payback and that Kofi Annan is sure the attack was deliberate because he knows full well what the payback is about. Likely it all has something to do with the UN's impotence.

This war is significantly about payback. It was reported that the Israelis blew up a bank president's house and family in Beirut to make abundantly clear Israel's displeasure with the bank cooperating with Hezbollah.

The movie Munich depicted, in a heavily fictionalized way, the true effort by an Israeli team in getting payback by killing the Arab participants in the murder of the 1968 Israel Olympic team. Some of the payback murders were done in a way to leave no doubt that they were deliberate.

It seems to me the Israelis are saying you kill one of ours, we will kill ten of yours. This is, of course, how the Nazis controlled citizens in countries they conquered during WWII.

I have simpathy for Israel. They had been in the process of withdrawing unilaterally from Gaza and 93% of the West Bank. They were about to withdraw from some of their West Bank settlements. One might suppose that the Palestinians and other Arab neighbors would sit back and wait while this process was unfolding.

I don't know what options Israel had. To wait until its enemies had enormously sophisticated weapons and could overrun their country in a surprize attack? War is a terrible business; but I just don't see the long-term strategy of anyone in the Israel-Palestine business. And I don't see what possible goals anyone has.

Tom said...

I'm thinking that instead of 'payback' I should have used the phrase 'settling scores.'

Israel was no doubt very displeased with the status of Lebanon. They left the country after earlier 'invasions' with the agreement and a UN resolution that their border would be secure and that Hezbollah would not be established as a state within a state.

It certainly appears now that Israel had quite a bit of intelligence about Hezbollah's activities and operation. And that Israel has openned a window of opportunity to smash Hezbollah and try to change the dynamic.

What can Israel have done about Hezbollah -- which operated like a super-empowered Mafia within the body of a quiet democracy?

Unless we can propose an alternate proactive strategy for Israel, a country surrounded by hostile enemies that would like to see her pushed into the sea, then we are just whinning.