Cutting through the bullshit.

Saturday 5 January 2008

Human shields

Back in August, I posted on Jonathan Cook’s discussion of Israeli use of Israeli citizens as human shields in last year’s Lebanon war. In an important new article in yesterday’s Counterpunch, he provides new evidence that it was overwhelmingly Israel and not Hizb’allah that was ‘cowardly blending’ with the civilian population and the inconsistent approach that the Human Rights Watch reports adopted to war crimes.

HRW did made a brief reference to the possibility that Israeli military installations were located close to or inside civilian communities. It cited examples of a naval training base next to a hospital in Haifa and a weapons factory built in a civilian community. Its researchers even admitted to watching the Israeli army firing shells into Lebanon from a residential street of the Jewish community of Zarit.

This act of “cowardly blending” by the Israeli army -- to echo the UN envoy Jan Egeland’s unwarranted criticism of Hizbullah -- was a war crime. It made Israeli civilians a potential target for Hizbullah reprisal attacks.

So what was HRW’s position on this gross violation of the rules of war it had witnessed? After yet again denouncing Hizbullah for its rocket attacks, the report was mealy-mouthed: “Given that indiscriminate fire [by Hizbullah], there is no reason to believe that Israel’s placement of certain military assets within these cities added appreciably to the risk facing their residents.”

In other words, some are guilty unless proven innocent and others are innocent even after proven guilty.