Saturday, November 18, 2006


The tragedy of the Beit Hanoun error is devastating for those civilians directly involved.

The chances of these tragedies occurring and recurring remain high while terrorists hide among civilians and launch missile attacks at Israel from within civilian areas.

While every effort should be made to reduce the incidence of such civilian deaths, the ultimate responsibility for these deaths is back with the terrorists, as implied by the Geneva Convention:

"The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations."

Point 7 , Article 51: Protection of Civilian Population
Chapter I: Basic Rule and Field of Application
Section 1: General Protection Against Effects of Hostilities
Part IV: Civilian Population
Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions, 1977
Further, the use of this tragedy for political gain is both despicable and predictable.

Some noteworthy points of interest in the current political festival at the UN:

1. The most ironic headline goes to the UK's Independent (a misnomer in itself): US vetoes 'biased' UN resolution attacking Israel's Gaza bloodbath.

'Biased' and bloodbath in the same sentence. That's a bit rich.

2. Kudos to the following countries for voting against the biased resolution (via Haaretz): United States, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau.

Some credit to those that abstained:
Canada, Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

My prediction is that within twelve months, Canada will do as Australia has and make a principled move from abstaining from such anti-Israel resolutions to voting against them. One can only hope.

3. Haaretz continues:

Europe's envoys cast their votes unanimously in favor of the resolution.
It is time to start shedding a light on the voting patterns of the different blocs at the UN. From Mark Steyn's most prophetic profound book America Alone, some interesting analysis of voting patterns in 2003:
  • The Arab League members voted against the US position 88.7 percent of the time
  • The ASEAN members voted against the US position 84.5 percent of the time
  • The Islamic Conference members voted against the US position 84.1 percent of the time
  • The African members voted against the US position 83.8 percent of the time
  • The Non-Aligned Movement members voted against the US position 82.7 percent of the time
  • European Union members voted against the US position 54.5 percent of the time
I would hazard a guess that the EU's 54.5 percent of 2003 is higher in 2006.

4. From Jerusalem Post:
US Ambassador John Bolton said the United States was "disturbed" that the Arab-backed draft resolution was "biased against Israel and politically motivated."
Why narrow this description to the UN Resolution alone?

5. From the UN's website:
“We must condemn the assassination of Palestinian and Israeli civilians without distinction because such arbitrary killings are contrary to the rules of international humanitarian law,” said Assembly President, Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa of Bahrain in opening the debate, which saw the participation of over 20 speakers.
This moral equivalence is morally reprehensible. Israelis assassinates terrorist leaders who are planning future attacks. The civilian deaths at Beit Hanoun were a tragic error. Contrast that with Palestinian terrorist attacks where civilian deaths are deemed a success by their perpetrators. Recall the words of Hamas after killing Fatima Slutsker:
"The Zionist enemy has admitted a Zionist was killed as a result of the Qassam Brigades bombardment of Sderot," the Hamas armed wing said in a statement. A Hamas movement spokesman defended the rocket attack.
There should be distinction between deaths in war, according to intent. This was described brilliantly by Melanie Phillips with reference to the Lebanon conflict (covered previously here):
But the moral crisis in Britain extends far wider and deeper than the wretched BBC and other media. The surreally distorted response by so many to Israel’s attempt to destroy the would-be purveyors of genocide raises the question of whether Britain will ever again support a just war — because it no longer knows what a just war is, and no longer has the intellectual capacity to know. This is in large measure because moral agency has disappeared altogether from the analysis. Intention, the essence of moral actions, is now tossed aside as of no significance. All that matters are the consequences of an action. This is in accordance with the prevailing amoral consensus which has negated moral agency altogether in order to remove the burden of personal responsibility. What someone intends to do is therefore held to be of no account. All that matters is the consequences of their action.

So the fact that Israel is at war solely to prevent the deaths of innocents is dismissed. All that matters is that the consequences of its actions are that Lebanese civilians are dying. The fact that the Israelis do not intend them to die is irrelevant. Those deaths are deemed to be the equivalent of the deaths caused by Hezbollah. The fact that Hezbollah deliberately sets out to murder innocent Israelis is irrelevant. Thus the only thing that matters is which side has more dead people. The fact that there are more dead Lebanese than dead Israelis settles the matter. The Israelis are in the wrong, are behaving disproportionately, are committing war crimes, are the villains of the piece. The fact that they are actually the victims of unprovoked genocidal aggression is deemed irrelevant. Thus the moral bankruptcy of Britain’s post-modern cultural desert.

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