Saturday, July 22, 2006

Killer Facts - who is targeting civilians? 

It is amazing to see how fast a conventional wisdom can develop around events and just how wrong that conventional wisdom can be. The Israel-Lebanon conflict is a perfect example.

The conventional wisdom which is now repeated over and over is that Hezbollah started rocketing Israel and that Israel then responded with attacks of its own. Further, it is asserted, Hezbollah is attacking civilians whereas Israel is careful to attack only military targets. A look at the facts shows both of those assertions are wrong.

First, how did this all begin? Lets have our memories refreshed by todays New York Times:

The face-off began when Hezbollah militants crossed into Israel, capturing two soldiers in an operation where eight others died. Israel responded with air bombardments, leading Hezbollah to unleash rockets, some possibly made or supplied by Iran or Syria, into northern Israel.

So the initial attack by Hezbollah was on a military target not civilians to which Israel responded with a generalized bombing campaign. The Israeli bombing brought the Hezbollah rockets, not the other way around. And it is not even an undisputed fact which side of the border the Israeli soldiers were on when they were attacked - and of course that makes quite a difference.

Next, we get to key point number two - who is attacking military targets and who is attacking civilians. From the same New York Times article we get the following facts. To date 34 Israelis have been killed, 19 soldiers and 15 civilians. So 55% of Israeli casualties have been military. Next it stated that 350 people have been killed in Lebanon of which Israel claims 100 have been Hezbollah fighters. That means over 71% of Lebanese casualties are civilians.

That makes things pretty clear. Israel, with all its sophisticated laser and satellite guided weapons is overwhelmingly killing civilians whereas Hezbollah, with much less sophisticated weaponry is mainly killing Israeli soldiers.

So looking at the facts two points are pretty clear - Israel, not Hezbollah, started the attacks on civilians, and Israel, not Hezbollah, is primarily targeting civilians.


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