25 July 2006

War crimes

Juan Cole rolls up a bunch of news from the Israel-Lebanon border. It seems that the Israelis are inflicting more casualties than they are taking, but that it's a hard slog. More importantly, it is very, very ugly.
most of the victims of Israel's attacks on Lebanon have been civilians, and that children are dying
I have noted before that it isn't very nice to make people leave their homes and then bomb them as they leave.
If the latter report is correct, and if the ambulance was marked as such, this strike was an Israeli war crime. If the Biqa' factories were not producing war materiel, hitting them was a war crime, too.
Some readers have asked why I characterize Hizbullah's rocket launches as war crimes. It is because the Geneva Convention requires that in war you have to aim at enemy combatants. You can't deliberately target civilians, and you can't endanger civilians unnecessarily. The Hizbullah rockets have poor targeting, and so just firing them endangers civilians. The rockets themselves have apparently killed almost no Israeli troops, and almost all their victims have been innocent civilians, like that poor man who was just driving along in or near Haifa. That is, the Hizbullah rockets have been fired indiscriminately (the only way they can be fired) and mainly hit civilian targets, which a prudent person could foresee. Bingo. War crime.
Let me say again that Cole's blog Informed Comment is the best single source I know for Americans trying to understand news about the Middle East.

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