Sunday, July 30, 2006

Lebanon: Qana Deja-Vu

An unfortunate attribute of conducting war from the air is it's a lot harder to verify that your target is your enemy....

Ten years ago, in April 1996, Israel was pursuing Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon against Hizballah targets. After announcements from the Israel Defense Force telling residents of several South Lebanon towns to flee, about 800 residents of Qana took shelter at a Fijian UNFIL camp near Qana. In a horrific miscalculation, Israeli artillery shelled the UNFIL compound, killing over 100 innocent civilians (including many women and children), seriously injuring another hundred, and seriously injured four Fijian troops serving at the UN post. The resulting public outcry, especially within Israel, brought Operation Grapes of Wrath to a screeching and premature halt.

Now, ten years later, Israel is again running a major campaign against Hizballah, and just this morning, we have another tragic targeting decision regarding the town of Qana, as described by Haaretz:

At least 54 Lebanese citizens were killed, at least 37 of them children, in the IAF strike on a building early Sunday, Lebanese police said. Dozens of others were reportedly trapped in the rubble. Several houses collapsed and a three-story building where about 100 civilians were sheltering was destroyed, witnesses and rescue workers said.
Here is a link to several photographs of the aftermath of the Qana bombing.

Like 1996, the Israeli government quickly issued a statement of "deep regret" about the bombing, and promising an investigation.

It will be interesting to see how the reaction to this incident plays out within Israel, and in the United States. Already, Condoleezza Rice has stated that it is time for a cease-fire, and has remained in Israel to negotiate this with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The key, however, will be the public reaction within Israel. Israel is a democracy, and images of dozens of dead children being pulled from the rubble of a building destroyed by an Israeli bomb will not likely be well received there. As for the reaction within Israel and its supporters, an interesting sampling can be found in the comments section of the Haaretz article about the incident. Some of the most disgusted-sounding comments there were posted by Israelis and Jews. Here are some excerpts:

Title: The end of the war
Name: McR of Tlv City: Tel Aviv State: Israel

This is the end of the war

Title:practically ashamed to be pro-Israel
How can Israelis seriously ask those of us who have traditionally supported them--politically, financially, intellectually--to go on defending this kind of crap?The attacks on Lebanon have now become a disaster of the first order. One that could have been avoided.Hizbollah wanted Israel to react this way... and sadly, Israelis were eager to oblige. Israel has grossly over-reacted, perpetuated the crisis, failed to defeat Hizbollah (indeed, Israel may have greatly strengthened the hand of Hizbollah/Syria/Iran in the region), it has appeared intransigent & unimaginative in the eyes of the world, it has caused a major humanitarian disaster (for everyone to see)... and as a result, Israel has caused a considerable number of its supporters abroad to reassess their unflinching defense of Israeli policy.I`ll always be pro-Israel, in my heart. But I simply refuse to *let my voice be heard* defending this mindless, myopic, self-defeating reaction any longer. G-d help you, Israel.


Title: Disgusted Jew
Disgusting. Savage. Barbaric. Those are the words to describe the Israeli government today.Never again will I speak out in defense of Israel.Never again will I cringe when people call us murderers and terrorists.Never again will I donate a penny to any pro-Israel organization.You want to act like animals, do it on your own and stop demanding money and help from good Jews around the world that don`t want to be tainted with your disgusting actions.