Tuesday, August 01, 2006

'Oops, sorry' doesn't let Israel off the hook

Adam Shatz offers a well-reasoned and rigorous critique of Israel's "sorry" defense of the bombing of Qana. He appropriately makes reference to the April 1996 slaughter of more than 100 Lebanese civilians who had taken reference in the well-demarcated UN base of Qana.
The important point that would buttress Shatz's argument is that the 1996 shelling was not an accident or the result of errant rounds. A careful investigation by a qualified group of professional army officers found that the shelling was probably not an error. Artillery is reasonably precise weapon. The barrels of artillery pieces are barreled like a rifle and the strike of rounds--assuming the gunners are competent--displays a pattern or distribution that reveals with surprising accuracy the grid or map coordinates of the target. Thus, the officers who investigated the incident found that the target was within the UN base, which Israel was obliged to respect as an international installation. Of course, Israeli gunners did not take account of the fact that civilians were seeking safe harbor in the base, but the shelling of the base was almost certainly either intentional or in disregard for Israel's obligations. In other words, for all practical purposes intentional.
The relevance of the Qana case for understanding the fatal bombing of the UN observer post in al-Khiam is obvious.

'Oops, sorry' doesn't let Israel off the hook - Los Angeles Times: "
When Israel targets densely populated areas in hopes of killing one or a handful of militants, knowing that it may end up killing dozens of civilians, it can hardly claim to be showing concern for humanitarian law or civilian life. And by asking that we judge it by its professed intentions, rather than by its actions, Israel is asking too much of us and far too little of itself. "

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