Hezbollah and Israel – a battle fought out?

As we approach the five week point in the fighting between Israel, a sovereign state and Hezbollah – effectively an occupying force in south Lebanon – there appear signs of hope, with the acceptance of the UN drafted peace accord by both parties.

Hezbollah agreed to the terms of the deal, significantly before Israel. Israel, for their part – at time of writing (Sunday 13/08/2006) are going all out to cram as much aerial bombardment into the time remaining, before the Official Ceasefire (00:00 New York time 14/08/2006). We consider Israel’s actions to be disproportionate and excessive: there are numerous cases of targeting fleeing vehicles, simply because they are fleeing. On most occasions these have been carrying innocent civilians.

Chest beating is an effective form of foreign diplomacy – for precisely as long as the other side decide to comply with the inferior status that this display demands of them. In this case the provocation was all Hezbollah’s – their tactics were mercenary and brutal, using the local population of southern Lebanon as proxy fighters, when of course they were simply civilians being used as ground cover by fighters they didn’t necessarily support.

It is a cliché of both conflict and journalism, to say that truth is the first casualty of war. In this case it was ethical concern for one’s fellow man and integrity of action. Hezbollah knew precisely what they were doing in mounting the ambush that resulted in eight dead and two captured Israeli soldiers. This does not clear Israel from the accusation of crimes against humanity; “they started it” is also a little tired as a justification. A response has to be deliberate, efficient and just – and as the casualty figures show a ten to one ratio in favour of the Israeli’s, it is clear that their response has been anything but.

The BBC compiles the outcome so far as:

Lebanon deaths:
1,071 (Lebanese govt)
900 – 1,150 (news agencies)
Israeli deaths:
Soldiers: 114 (IDF)
Civilians: 43 (IDF)
Lebanon displaced:
700,000 – 900,000 (UNHCR; Lebanese govt)
Israeli displaced:
500,000 (Human Rights Watch)
Lebanon damage:
$2.5bn (Lebanese govt)
Israel damage:
$1.1bn (Israeli govt)

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About Damian Merciar
Damian Merciar is Managing Director of Merciar Business Consulting, http://www.merciar.com, a niche business economics consultancy founded in 1998. He has over twenty years experience in the areas of commercial Business Strategy. He is experienced in the transition environments of nationalized to private sector state utilities and the senior practice of commercial management, advisorial consultancy, and implementation. He has carried out policy advisory work for government ministries and been an adviser to institutional bodies proposing changes to government. He holds an MSc Economics from the University of Surrey’s leading Economics department and an MBA from the University of Kent. Also attending the leading University in the Middle East, studying International Relations and Language, for which he won a competitive international scholarship, and has a BA (Hons) in Economic History and Political Economy from the University of Portsmouth. He is currently based in London.

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