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