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Terrorism and Warfare

 

WAR IN HAIFA - 2006, Photo by Lenny M. ©

 

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ASTHO Program In Israel - 2006

 

 

Bearing a Striking Resemblance:  Hezbollah rockets employ same mass casualty approach as suicide bombers

 
Terrorism has been usually perceived as limited to "random" attacks of "isolated incidents." While terror operations are not targeted at specific individuals, they are clearly targeted at population centers to kill as many human beings as possible - in public gatherings, transportation venues, and public places.  Hizbollah has introduced the use of Katyusha rockets whose warheads are filled with thousands of  metal ball-bearings.  This weapon, employed with the intention of inflicting mass casualties, was added to the terror arsenal and reflects a tactical transition in the methods employed by terrorists. These rockets are a modern version of the suicide bombers' vests padded with metal ball-bearings.  They intend to inflict even greater, and more indiscriminate, damage as weapons of mass destruction.

Both methods, the ball-bearing-filled Katyusha rockets and ball-bearing and shrapnel-laden suicide bombers' vests, intend to inflict maximum damage on the civilians whom they purposefully aim.  Indeed, these actions constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity for two reasons: 1) They are aimed against civilians, and 2) they are launched from among civilians who are used as human shields. This is characteristic of what is now called asymmetric warfare. 

More than 25,000 terror attacks on Israel alone (September 2000 - May 2006) killed 1,103 Israelis and injured 7,520. The latest attacks from Lebanon (July 12 - August 14) launched 3,970 rockets that killed 40 civilians and injured 3,183 (not including 117 soldiers who died and the hundreds who were injured in battle). See the JCPA Preliminary Report for more details. The casualty figures reported from Lebanon are not reliable or verifiable but it is clear that civilians were hurt. Damage to property and to the economy, in Israel and in Lebanon, is assessed in the billions.

Both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the two Additional Protocols (Protocol I and Protocol II) extend protections to civilians during war time. Among them:

bulletCivilians are not to be subject to attack. This includes direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks against areas in which civilians are present.
bulletThere is to be no destruction of property unless justified by military necessity.
bulletCivilians must not be subject to outrages upon personal dignity.
bulletCivilians must not be subject to collective punishment and reprisals.
bulletCivilians must not receive differential treatment based on race, religion, nationality, or political allegiance.
bulletWarring parties must not use or develop biological or chemical weapons and must not allow children under 15 to participate in hostilities or to be recruited into the armed forces.

Specifically, the Fourth Geneva Convention forbids the use of any civilian as a shield: "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations." (Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3516, 75 U.N.T.S. 287, art. 28).

 

See a brief history of the Geneva Conventions

 

It is important to emphasize that neither the terrorists nor the organizations that support and send them (whether Al-Qaida, Hizbullah, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, or many others) are signatories to the Geneva Convention. Yet they are in clear violation of the spirit and the letter of the Convention. 

 

The damage caused by these rockets is evident in a series of photos taken by Lenny Maschkowski, a professional independent photo-journalist from Haifa, who has documented the impact of the rockets: "Itís amazing how far these little ball bearings go," he says. "They have a deadly radius of around 600 meters [some 1,950 feet]."  His work provides a chilling reality to the damage and horror inflicted by these rockets. It is posted here - unedited - with his explicit permission.

 

WAR IN HAIFA - Photo by Lenny M. ©

Chronology of Rocket Attacks on the City of Haifa, Israel

The PowerPoint presentations below are best viewed with Internet Explorer - version 4.0 and higher.

 War In Haifa: July 17, 2006

 War In Haifa: July 20, 2006 A

 War In Haifa: July 20, 2006 B

 War In Haifa: July 23, 2006

 War In Haifa: July 24, 2006

 War In Haifa: July 25, 2006

 War In Haifa: August 6, 2006 A

 War In Haifa: August 6, 2006 B

 War In Haifa: August 6, 2006 C

 War In Haifa: August 10, 2006

 

The physical damage (to person and property) done by the rockets exponentially increases with the damage done to truth-in-reporting. Media reports about the impact of the war on Israel were fairly "standard" or understated while reports on Lebanon where forged, doctored, exaggerated to an extent that questions about the credibility of the sources (of information and publications) are being asked.  See a comprehensive handling of this issue in The media war against Israel which also includes references to sources that exposed the media's mal-practice.

 

OPERATION CAST LEAD

Sources and Commentary

Operation Cast Lead (December 27, 2008 - January 18, 2009) was launched after 8 years of relentless terrorist attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip (including 3 years following the 2005 complete disengagement and pullout from Gaza) by Hamas and its associated organizations. The links below provide a background for the operation as well as video documentation that illustrates how Hamas initiates attacks using human shields in the midst of heavily populated areas and use hospitals, schools, and mosques for storage of ammunition and to purposefully attack Israeli civilians.  Much has been written on the use of "disproportional" force; typically these are one-sided calls aiming at Israel to cease fire but not directing the same calls to the terrorists. While the loss of uninvolved civilians is regrettable a country has a right (indeed an obligation) to defend its citizens.

 

Some critics (including a number of prominent Israeli writers and columnists) have expressed opposition to the use of force simply because Israel is known to be "strong."  The position of such critics (even if in some - and only in rare cases - is well intended), reveals a complete moral bankruptcy and short-sightedness that verges on irresponsibility (when well-intended) and malice (when ill-intended). After all, what exactly does it mean to be "strong" if power cannot be used? Why have a military if it is never to be used? To negotiate is admirable but where is the limit a society should place on the lethal mixture of not having a negotiating partner and yet having 8 years of bombardment on a large portion of its civilian populations? How much restraint should a state exercise against terrorists who use human shields to shoot at civilians? Do nothing because uninvolved will be hurt? If so, why not just acquiesce to the terrorist and let them have whatever they want? What can Israel negotiate with Hamas whose declared goal is the absolute annihilation of all of Israel? Or should such negotiations be carried out with Iran for which Hamas and Hizbullah serve as proxies? After all, Iran carries the nuclear threat with the same goal and not just against Israel.

 

Because issues of morality and justification are integral to policies that democracies formulate and carry out, it is important to shed some light on the legal and moral aspects in connection with this operation. The fact that democracies try to set high standards to avoid hurting civilians does not seem to impress the critics. Short of Israel committing suicide perhaps nothing will.  Perhaps even that may not placate those who vow to kill Israel as they will claim that they were deprived of the opportunity to do so themselves. Therefore it is important to point out the critics' false morality on one hand and the justification for the operation on the other. The articles by Dershowitz, Friedmann, Gerson, Harari, Kramer, and Yemini highlight important elements of legitimacy, legality, and moral justification.

 

 Israel's Military Operation in Gaza: The Background

 IDF Video Documentation

 Dershowitz: Israel's Policy is Perfectly 'Proportinate'

 Dershowitz: The Phony War Crimes Accusation

 Friedmann: Self Defense is Legal and Legitimate

 Friedmann: Unacceptable

 Gerson: Proportionality and Disproportionality

 Harari: A View From the Traget Zone

 Kramer: Civilians should be protected unless...

 Yemini: Moral Criminals

 Yemini: War and Propaganda Crimes

 Yemini: First Gaza, Then the World

 

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