July 30, 2006

Disproportionate Force?

I know that you are most likely familiar with the facts below. But, if you have been watching CNN or reading the Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail, some of this may be news to you.

The headlines are once again raging out against Israel. “Shock over civilian deaths from Israeli attack.” “Israeli raid kills 56.” Does anyone talk about the fact that four days ago, Israel warned the civilians of Qana, asking them to leave. Has everyone forgotten who started this war and why this has to be done? Or about the kind of war Israel is trying to fight single handedly – and for the benefit of the whole world?

The Hizbollah are entrenched across Southern Lebanon. They have built bunkers and have stashes of weapons under homes and schools in these villages. If they want to fire a rocket at Israel, they simply fire right from a highly populated area.

Israel’s army, contrary to popular belief, is more benevolent than any army in the world. When faced with these terrorist tactics, Israel at first had four choices: bomb the entire area by surprise; warn the civilians to flee and then bomb the area; send in ground troops to scout out the rocket launchers and arms caches; or send in ground troops to do face to face combat with the enemy. So the Israel Defense Force first gave warnings to the civilians telling them to leave. Many did not. (And, one may wonder, if a person is told to leave and they do not, why do they insist on staying?) One reason is that Hizbollah is forcing the Lebanese to stay so they can use them as human targets. The second reason is that many of these people are really terrorists themselves.

Having assessed the situation carefully, the IDF knew that the most humane solution was to reduce the casualties of Lebanese civilians, even at the expense of spilling Israeli blood. So the IDF sent in their ground troops. These young boys (aged 20, 21, 22) faced the most sophisticated terrorist army that could be imagined. According to Debka, using Viet Cong style techniques, Hizbollah has hundreds of bunkers and tunnels for hiding in and storing weapons. And they are also using Japanese style camouflage techniques. So when four or five trees start to move, it is really a rocket launcher being transported.

Israel did not use napalm against villages like the US did. And if we look at what the French did to civilians in Algeria, we would be shocked: thousands of innocent lives were lost. How about England’s response in Dresden during WWII? What about the Russians and the Chechnyans? The US in Iraq? It goes on and on except only Israel is found guilty for defending its own civilians from rockets. In fact, over 100 were fired at Israeli cities in the north just today – and it’s only 5 pm.

And because Israel has been so careful to protect the lives of civilians, it has lost many heroes. The pictures of nine young men were in the Jerusalem Post on Friday. They all died in an ambush in Bint Jbail –a town that the Israelis had requested be evacuated, but was not. Roi Klein, a 31-year-old father of two, gave his life to protect the other soldiers in his battalion. When a grenade was thrown into a house they were in, he did not think twice. He recited ‘Shema Israel’ and jumped onto the grenade, killing himself and saving the others.

How much more blood has to be shed? How many more widows will there be? How many more inconsolable mothers and bereft fathers? So when Israel strikes from the air as it did today and kills civilians who were told to leave, there is no reason to hear that tiresome word “disproportionate” yet again.

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