While it is true that Israel has dropped leaflets warning people to leave the south in conjunction with turning the region into a killing box, this is not exculpatory. Had Israel permitted the residents safe passage and an interval to leave their case would be stronger. However, even though days have passed since the leaflets were dropped, there was no safe passage guaranteed and it is by now well-documented that fleeing civilians, even in morally protected vehicles like ambulances, were subject to be attacked by Israeli aircraft. Moreover, since it is obvious that civilians remain in villages and towns throughout the South it is incumbent upon the attacker to minimize casualties among innocents rather than pretending that there were civilians in the target area.
Quite aside from the conventions of the laws of land warfare, this attack is not only outrageous in itself, but it brings added opprobrium to Israel because of an earlier incident in Qana. I am referring to the intentional shelling of the UN base in Qana, in 1996, which readers will recall that the shelling slaughtered more than 100 civilians. A serious UN investigation corroborated that the shelling likely not an error, as Israel claimed.
Of course, the U.S. shares moral responsibility because Israel's war has so clearly been adopted as a proxy war for America. (This is quite aside from the poorly reasoned rationale for U.S. policy.)
Finally, Qana II will only stiffen the backs of the resistance and build further national support in Lebanon against Israel. Lebanese of all sects remember the 1996 carnage indelibly, so this terrible incident will only resuscitate those memories.
It is not that Israel is inept as much as morally calloused and arrogantly dismissive of Arab lives.
At Least 50 Killed in Israeli Airstrike
"This is the text of the Israeli statement in full:
This morning, July 3m 2006, the IAF attacked missile launch sites in the area of the village of Qana, an area from which hundreds of missiles were launched towards the city of Nahariya and the communities in the western Galilee.
"The IDF will defend the citizens of Israel from attacks by the Hizbullah and the responsibility for any civilian casualties rests with the Hizbullah who have turned the suburbs of Lebanon into a war front by firing missiles from within civilian areas.
"Residents in this region and specifically the residents of Qana were warned several days in advance to leave the village. Eighteen Israeli civilians have been killed and over 400 have been wounded by these rocket attacks which have disrupted the lives of tens of thousands of Israeli citizens."