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Re: Proportionality in the War in Lebanon (8/7/2006)

This sort of larger-picture analysis could justify almost anything and is actually useless in any legal framework.  The author dismisses the ratio of killed (10:1) and does not even mention that the vast majority of Lebanese killed are civilians with a huge proportion of children while the majority of Israeli killed are soldiers.  He also conveniently ignores some of the first targets of Israel in both Lebanon and Gaza: Electricity generators, and in Lebanon the oil supply to run it and water filtration plants.  So, to stop weapons getting in to the country virtually every bridge and every main road is rendered useless and the sea is polluted in one of the worst oil slicks ever.  A blockade is established which prevents folk from escaping out of the country and the Israeli authorities announce that they are going to bomb an area so that justifies the deaths of anyone who does not or cannot leave. Since when? It is obvious that the advance notice means that Hezbollah fighters will not be there so only civilians will be killed.  And Hezbollah rockets before the soldiers were captured were infrequent responses to Israeli actions -- assassinations, usually also killing nearby civilians, and kidnappings of so-called terrorists who are never brought to courts.  9,000 "terrorists" in Israeli gaols with no rights to trial even before an Israeli judge and jury???

Israel has alternatives, it just doesn't want to use them.  It could dismantle its illegal settlements as required by a UN Security Council resolution that it conveniently chooses to ignore; it could recognise refugee right of return; it could build its Wall on its own territory; it could admit that its very foundation involved terrorist actions against British forces in Palestine and stop trying to appear so pure of terrorism in its own past.  Yes, larger pictures can justify almost anything but the bottom line is that in the current conflict, Israel has chosen a particular method of response that is disproportionate to the immediate original actions and continues to be disproportionate.

The sad thing is that Israel has not learnt that its actions are producing another generation of embittered neighbours and even if it is successful in getting rid of Hezbollah without having to do any of the things previous Security Council Resolutions have demanded, it is building up further hatred and pressure that will again spill over.  As a non-signatory to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and a holder of WMD I predict that it will be the first country to use nuclear weapons against a country without them -- no, make that the second country since the USA holds the honour of being first.  No doubt that will also be argued to be proportional "in context".

Rev. John Clifford
Caerphilly, Wales, UK

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