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Currnet Issues Ethics Foreign Policy

Defeat Via Fear of Collateral Damage

When speaking of “collateral damage” or military attacks resulting in civilian casualties, notice that this concept does not seem to apply to any nation other than Israel. Remarkable how Israel alone is blamed for “disproportionate” force against aggression. Hezbollah doesn’t worry about such hypocrisy if only because such notions are foreign to Islam.

Whereas Israel deliberately locates its military bases away from civilian population centers, Hezbollah deliberately locates their weaponry in densely populated areas, even in hospitals, schools and mosques. These worshippers of Allah the compassionate know that Israel is reluctant to hit such targets, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also from fear of adverse world opinion, which doesn’t faze Hezbollah. Hezbollah thus receives from civilized countries a tremendous military advantage, which may decide the outcome of its war with Israel.

Not only does Hezbollah deliberately attack civilian targets, it also uses antipersonnel missiles with ball-bearing shrapnel to maximize civilian casualties. After firing such missiles, these brave soldiers of Allah avoid retaliation by hiding among civilians. Since they don’t wear uniforms, they blend into the Lebanese population—a violation of the Geneva Convention.

If Israel refrains from attacking Hezbollah for fear of harming civilians, the terrorists win by continuing to freely bomb Jewish civilians. But if Israel attacks and causes civilian casualties, then Hezbollah wins a propaganda victory. The international community—forgetful of the Allied bombing of Dresden, which napalmed more than 200,000 civilians—denounces Israel for its “disproportionate” response! “This chorus of condemnation,” says Harvard professor of law Alan Dershowitz, “actually encourages the terrorists to operate from civilian areas.”

Dershowitz points out: “A bank robber that takes a teller hostage and fires at police from behind this human shield is guilty of murder if they, in an effort to stop the robber from shooting, accidentally kill the hostage. The same should be true of terrorists who use civilians as shields from behind whom they fire their rockets. The terrorists must be held legally and morally responsible for the deaths of civilians, even if the direct physical cause was an Israeli rocket aimed at those targeting Israeli civilians.”

Israel is obviously entitled to prefer the lives of its own innocents over the lives of Lebanese civilians especially when the latter include many who are complicit in terrorism. The nations and their media appear oblivious of this.

Jew-hatred and hypocritical self-righteousness are always in season, and this underlies attacks on Israel for “collateral damage”—a concept that obscures the fact that civilians killed as a result of IDF attacks are not necessarily innocent.

Christians aside, I wonder how many Lebanese can be regarded as “innocent civilians.” Lebanon has hosted Hezbollah since 1982. Iran’s proxy recruits terrorists from Lebanon’s Shi’ite community. Before 1982, Lebanon harbored Arafat’s PLO, which established a base in the southern Lebanon to attack Israel. The PLO stored an enormous supply of weapons, obviously with Lebanese knowledge.

The truth is that the Lebanese government is responsible for Hezbollah’s occupation of southern Lebanon—about 25% of the country—where it has developed a military infrastructure obviously designed to destroy Israel. 23 members of Lebanon’s 128-member parliament represent Hezbollah. Moreover, various Lebanese parties have militias that have joined Hezbollah in attacking Israel. The Lebanese are responsible for whatever happens to them as a result of Israeli attacks.

Hence it is senseless and irresponsible for the IDF to warn any village in Lebanon of imminent Israeli attacks, which enables Hezbollah to prepare ambushes against Jewish soldiers. The villagers of Bint Jabail, for example, were repeatedly requested to leave the town by leaflets and megaphone, by TV and radio. This warning was heeded by about half the population, but some 10,000 decided to remain.

So, instead bombing Bint Jabail targets without warning in preparation for a ground attack, Israeli soldiers had to enter houses and courtyards where forewarned terrorists in civilian clothes attacked them at close range by gun fire and grenades.

Those who cherish Jewish life say that Israel should employ hundreds of planes and thousands of artillery and tanks and wipe out every village in southern Lebanon from which Ketusha rockets have been fired on Israeli cities. This will save the lives of hundreds of Jewish soldiers and prevent thousands of other Jewish casualties in our cities as well as in Lebanon.

Prominent Israelis such as former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, Maj. Gen Yossi Peled (ret.) and other experts have said that a massive ground invasion should have been launched at the very outset of the war to dismantle Hezbollah’s entire terrorist infrastructure. This, I would add, is the only way to sear into the minds of Hezbollah and its patrons, Iran and Syria, not to mess with Israel. This would also have served to deter Hamas in the south.

I wonder who is responsible for Israel’s policy of self-restraint vis-à-vis Hezbollah’s aggression and missile attacks on Kiryat Shmona, Haifa, Safed, and other cities. Perhaps former air force head, Chief of General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, does not appreciate how to operate a ground war—which requires a concentration of forces and uninterrupted attack.

In all fairness, however, recall Jenin, when 23 Israeli soldiers died in a battle against Palestinian terrorists, a battle that many in Israel felt should have been waged from the air. Besides, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon himself pursued a policy of self-restraint, of intermittent attacks on PLO terrorists. He too feared “collateral damage” and thereby sacrificed many Jews on the altar of PR.

While Israel’s government worries about collateral damage and adverse world opinion, countless Jews in northern Israel have been made homeless by Hezbollah missiles. And while Europe remains silent about the suffering of these Jews, the Muslim world delights in their suffering.

To conclude: The concept of collateral damage obscures the true nature of the war in Lebanon. This is not only a genocidal war against Israel, but an Islamic war against civilization. Strange as it may seem, however, this war may bring Israel closer to its spiritual redemption. Let me explain.

World War I produced the Balfour Declaration and the recognition by the League of Nations that Palestine is the home of the Jewish People. World War II resulted in the Israel’s physical redemption via the establishment of the State of Israel. Israel’s victory in the Six Day War restored Jewish control over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

The failure of Israeli governments to translate that victory into public policy by declaring Jewish law over these areas prevented Israel from becoming a scientifically unassailable superpower, to which no one would presume to fix a time limit for Israel to cease attacking its enemies or to secure its citizens from he enemy’s attacks. Israel’s meekness, its territorial self-restraint, is the basic cause of the present war in Lebanon.

On the other hand, the Jews rendered homeless in northern Israel will surely relate their plight not only to the incompetence of Israel’s government, but also to its crime against the Jews of Gush Katif.

The people of Israel, united by suffering, but now painfully aware of the government’s inherent ineptitude, will more vividly understand that the political, judicial, as well as educational institutions of the State of Israel constitute the primary cause of Israel’s present degradation. This understanding will herald a new era.

Hence the failure of the government to prevent the present war and the IDF’s failure to utterly crush Hezbollah, should not cause Jews to despair. God is the master of war, and this war, by exposing the flawed character of Israel’s ruling elites and institutions, is a necessary precondition of Israel’s moral and intellectual progress. Night precedes the dawn of a new day.

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