December 11, 2006

Whose War Crimes? Evidence from Lebanon about How Terrorists Use Civilians

From Whose War Crimes? Evidence from Lebanon about How Terrorists Use Civilians:

Mohammad Abd al-Hamid Srour moved missiles across southern Lebanon under cover of a white flag. Hussein Ali Mahmoud Suleiman used the porch of a private home to fire rockets. Maher Hassan Mahmoud Kourani dressed in civilian clothes, hid his Kalashnikov in a tote bag, and stored anti-aircraft missiles in the back of a green unmarked Volvo. The three men, all members of Hizballah, were captured by Israel during last summer's war.

Their videotaped interviews form part of a remarkable report by retired Lt.-Col. Reuven Erlich of Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Relying heavily on first-hand evidence, the report shows how Hizballah put innocent civilians at risk by deliberately deploying its forces in towns and often private homes. It is Hizballah, not Israel, that is guilty of war crimes here.

Beyond the war in Lebanon, these images suggest how Islamists seek to use the restraint of Western powers against them. They shoot at our civilians from the safety of their own civilian enclaves that they know we are reluctant to attack. Then if by chance their civilians are killed, they call in CNN and al-Jazeera cameras and wait for the likes of Human Rights Watch to denounce America or Israel for war crimes.

None of this means the U.S. shouldn't continue to fight with discrimination and avoid civilian casualties. But it means our political leadership needs to speak as candidly as Israelis now are speaking about this enemy strategy, so the American people can understand and be steeled against this new civilian battleground.