Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Palestinian Human Shields

The death of civilians is always a tragedy, especially when they are children. Even those who believe civilians don't exist have room to agree that children have no place being killed in a war.

Recent actions by the IDF (not including the Gaza "incident") have resulted in the deaths of numerous youths, some too young to have participated in anti-Israel activities, others who might have but were peaceful at the time.

Who is to blame? Some would argue the Israelis, having launched missiles into civilian areas, at cars surrounded by civilians, bears responsibility for the resulting innocent deaths. But should that be the case? Should human shields really be useful?

Under the Geneva Conventions, houses or worship are to be protected. Use it as an armory or staging point, launch an attack, and it loses its protection. The blame for its destruction rests not with those defending themselves by destroying the church/mosque/shul but by those who used it for war.

Likewise with human shields. You need to take out a target, knowing it will result in civilian casualties. So you make a judgement. Perhaps its how many innocent lives will be taken vs. how many will be saved. Absent a blatant overreaction the fault rests with the target, for surrounding himself with civilians. (There exists an independant actor issue here, but that's for another post).

Not that terrorists or others have much choice. When you're in an inferior position (as the Palestinians are militarily) you have to blend in. Guerilla warfare is the only way to go. Terrorism works. Just because you choose to fight the only way possible doesn't mean the other side takes the blame for the death of those around you.

That's why I'm glad of the following statement by a high ranking IDF officer: "The Palestinians launch rockets from urban areas, and therefore we need to hit them there." Not because Israel hasn't done it in the past, but because they're admitting how war really is fought. Publicizing the point places the blame back on the terrorists. Hide in civilian populations, and the blood is on your hands.