This is a vexing question for any part-time political pundit. Where does one start in understanding what is meant by a just war? How does one go about determining which side is behaving in a way that brings blame and calls for the trial of war criminals? The way in which these questions can be answered is to refer to the specific articles of the Geneva Convention that relate to civilian populations. If Israel is guilty of wrong-doing, then how can those who cry out against Israel excuse the way in which the Hezbollah thugs misuse the civilian population in southern Lebanon? Is Hezbollah guilty of using these civilians as human shields?It must be noted that Hezbollah fighters are equally bound by the Geneva conventions when it comes to the conduct of war. There are some articles of the Geneva convention that apply directly to this situation:
Protocol 1 and article 28 of the Geneva Convention make it clear “the deliberate intermingling of civilians and combatants, designed to create a situation in which any attack against combatants would necessarily entail an excessive number of casualties is a flagrant breach of the Law of International Armed Conflict,”
This raises in my mind questions about the way in which the left wing anti-Semite members of the U.N. have flagrantly used the present situation to condemn Israel alone for a situation that has been purposefully been created by the Hezbollah in Lebanon. It could be said that true to form, the Hezbollah have deliberately courted the population of the region by pretending to provide services to them. They have done this in an attempt to gain the total trust of the locals, whilst they intend in reality to use them as human shields. There is no justification for putting total blame on Israel for the deaths of civilians who were sheltering from the war, when in reality the Hezbollah set these people up to become victims in order to force other western countries to withdraw support from Israel.
Which side is in breach of the Geneva convention? It is obvious that the Islamic states point the finger at Israel for the deaths of 54 civilians. However, Hezbollah deserve to be condemned for the way in which they have flagrantly defied the Geneva conventions on war, and have deliberately intermingled combatants with civilians, thus setting up and causing the loss of civilian life during an air strike.
Koffi Annan has condemned Israel because of the bombing of the U.N. observors’ post, pointing out that Israel knew that the post existed. However, what is not widely reported is the fact that Hezbollah had deliberately moved in and around the U.N. compound. Was the attack on the outpost an error? I doubt that it was an error at all. It is possible that Israel had received intelligence that indicated that the Hezbollah were in the environs of the outpost, and the strength of the intelligence would have been sufficient for the action that took place. Once again, I believe that Israel should not be condemned for its actions, unless it can be proved that Hezbollah did not set up the situation so that there would be a loss of life amongst the U.N. observors.
In a given war situation there will always be mistakes, and there will always be loss of civilian lives. One example that comes to mind, where there was the freak killing of a female civilian, is that of the battle at Gettysburg. The bullets richoted off a building, and a young woman was killed as she sat in her bedroom. On the other hand, in a war situation, the “enemy” will often use the civilian population to gain the upper hand. How many civilians were used by the Germans as shields or fodder during the second world war? Civilians were killed during the second world war. The bombings of London and Dresden are examples of the way in which civilians end up dead as a result of “enemy” action. On top of that, we have the dropping of the A-bombs on the civililan populations in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki was dropped in error when killed thousands of innocent Japanese (many of those who were killed died in the Catholic Cathedral at Nagasaki as they were praying for peace).
Just as there needs to be a proportionate response to aggravation and provocation, there also needs to be a very close look at the way in which civilian populations are being exploited in an effort to try and prevent Israel from taking strong action against Hezbollah, who have been threatening their very existence. Why should it be considered not appropriate to bomb the positions of those who are firing rockets into Israel? Why should Israel continue to tolerate the hostile actions of Hezbollah and Hamas? Why is it that the civilian population within an Hezbollah stronghold should be considered so sacrosanct that all military action is to be considered as unacceptable, yet Hezbollah is allowed to rain down rockets on Haifa?
Perhaps a member of the looney bleeding heart left of politics might like to ponder these questions and come up with some answers that would truly allow for justice to be done in this critical situation.