Monday, July 31, 2006

An Unspoken Admission?

Sometimes what implied is the real story.

Everyone seems to agree that, during its 48-hour "ceasefire" Israel has greatly diminished the number of attacks it is making, although it has not stopped them altogether. The New York Times, for example, said today that "bombs continued to fall across Lebanon, albeit at a slower pace and at more limited targets than earlier in the offensive."

Now let's add to that the following statement from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (via):
A senior government source said earlier Monday that the IAF had been told to continue acting against "targets that present a threat to Israel and its troops, including rocket launchers, vehicles transporting ammunition, Hezbollah fighters, weapons stores and Hezbollah assets."
The term "Hezbollah assets" refers to people identified with the organization, including those who do not pose an immediate threat. "If they are identified with Hassan Nasrallah, we will hit them," the source said.
Regarding the instructions to the IAF, the source said, however, "there will be no attacks on buildings that had not been identified" as part of efforts to strike Israel, and held, for example, ammunition, Hezbollah fighters or their commanders."
So, they are now only bombing "targets that present a threat to Israel and its troops", and they are now no longer engaging in "'attacks on buildings that had not been identified' as part of efforts to strike Israel." And the bombing has diminished greatly.

Is this not an admission that Israel has been, up until this point -- contrary to the standard defense being offered of Israel's actions -- has not been targeting only threats to itself and its troops, and has not been targeting only buildings identified as part of efforts to attack itself? In other words, that Israel has been deliberately hitting non-military targets -- at worst targeting civilians directly, but at the very least targeting Lebanon's infrastructure (which, of course, ends up killing civilians indirectly by depriving them of things they need to live)? That, in short, Israel's bombing has slowed because it is no longer targeting sites that it has no legal or moral right to target, whatever the initial justice of its cause? That the deaths so far -- or at least some of them -- have not been just "collateral damage"?*

Hasn't Israel -- or, at least, a "
senior government source", speaking to an Israeli paper -- just admitted that Israel has been committing war crimes?

* Even if this were not the case, this doesn't mean that everything Israel has done has been moral or legal; as I have discussed previously, even "collateral damage" can be a war crime if proper care was not taken to avoid such casualties, if the damage from the attack was not proportional to its military goals, etc. But targeting non-military targets is clearly a war-crime -- it doesn't require as complex a weighing and balancing as questions of proportionality do.

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