The American General George Patton once famously observed that you don’t win wars by dying for your country; you win them by making the other poor bastard die for his.
But now Hezbollah has turned that pearl of military wisdom on its head. These jihadists are trying to defeat Israel, not by killing Jews, but by deliberately engineering a large-scale slaughter of the Lebanese populace.
Welcome to fourth generation warfare.
During the current conflict in Lebanon, Hezbollah has elevated civilian skirt-hiding to a Machiavellian art form. After Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon in the year 2000, the jihadists amassed an arsenal of 13,000 rockets in mosques, hospitals and homes throughout that region. And since hostilities commenced on 12 July, their favourite launching sites for attacks against Israel have been crowded villages and UN posts.
But don’t take my word for it. The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council website features aerial reconnaissance footage showing a multiple rocket launcher being hidden in a crowded Lebanese residential neighbourhood. Check it out yourself.
Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah does not hesitate to place non-combatants in harm’s way because he knows that innocent Lebanese deaths equal good publicity. Hezbollah’s holy warriors are ready and willing to engineer the slaughter of their own kith and kin for the sake of jihad against Israel.
On 30 July, Berlin’s Der Tagesspiel newspaper published the following letter-to-the-editor by Dr. Mounir Herzallah, a Shi’a Muslim Lebanese expat living in Germany:
I lived until 2002 in a small southern village near Mardshajun that is inhabited by a majority of Shi’as like me. After Israel left Lebanon, it did not take long for Hezbollah to have the say in our town and all other towns. Received as successful resistance fighters, they appeared armed to the teeth and dug rocket depots in bunkers in our town as well. The social work of the [Hezbollah] Party of God consisted in building a school and a residence over these bunkers! A local sheik explained to me laughing that the Jews would lose in any event because the rockets would either be fired at them or if they attacked the rocket depots, they would be condemned by world opinion on account of the dead civilians. These people do not care about the Lebanese population they use them as shields, and, once dead, as propaganda. As long as they continue existing there, there will be no tranquility and peace.
Indeed, this cynical Hezbollah practice has become so brazen that it attracted criticism from a most unlikely source. The United Nations is not an institution noted for its pro-Israel sympathies, but its humanitarian chief Jan Egeland spoke out against what he saw during a recent visit to Beirut. My message is clear, declared Egeland: ‘Hezbollah stop this cowardly blending in among women and children!’
And retired Canadian Major General Lewis MacKenzie accused Hezbollah of using United Nations peacekeepers as cover in southern Lebanon. In a radio interview, MacKenzie related the contents of an email message received from a Canadian officer who was killed in that tragic night-time Israeli airstrike on a UN position: ‘what he was telling us was that Hezbollah fighters were all over his position and the IDF were targeting them.’
Yet there is method to the jihadists’ madness. Nineteenthth century Prussian military theorist Karl von Clausewitz wrote that war is merely an extension of politics, but by other means. And Sheik Nasrallah understands that in 21st century armed conflict the camera is a more powerful weapon than the cannon.
Recognising that he cannot defeat Israel militarily, Nasrallah is trying to humble the Jewish State politically through the immolation of the Lebanese people. Hezbollah is attempting to out-Clausewitz the Clausewitzians through a display of cynicism that would make the most hardened military officer blanch.
Of course, the laws of war forbid combatants from using civilians to shield gun positions or arms depots. Article 28 of the 4th Geneva Convention declares: ‘The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.’ But only the terminally naÃ¯ve could believe that the people who invented suicide bombing would care what international law has to say.
The current conflict began with a cross-border incursion into Israeli territory that was a blatant act of war by any reasonable definition. And despite the best efforts of the Israeli army to respond solely against military targets, many non-combatants have died.
The latest battlefield tragedy exemplifies the moral and operational dilemma facing Israel’s military. The village of Qana where some 40 civilians died in an Israeli airstrike was the source of over 150 rockets fired into the Israeli district of Galilee over the past three weeks.
Israeli Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz said that his forces did not know non-combatants were present at the targeted building in Qana. But given that the area around the stricken building was used by Hezbollah for military purposes, then the jihadists are morally and legally responsible for those deaths.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz wrote that those who shelter behind civilians in wartime are no better than criminals who take hostages during a bank heist. If police inadvertently kill hostages during a rescue operation, those bank robbers are culpable for murder, not the cops.
Israel is doing nothing more than Australia would do in similar circumstances. If Hezbollah cared at all about the wellbeing of the Lebanese people, then the jihadists would not have precipitated this unnecessary war. If Sheik Nasrallah had the best interests of Qana’s residents at heart, then he wouldn’t deliberately place women and children at risk by firing rockets from school courtyards.
These terrible, innocent deaths must not deflect our attention from the fundamental facts of this conflict. The fighting was triggered by jihadists who are sworn to the cause of Israel’s annihilation. And while the butchers’ bill is being paid in southern Lebanon and the Galilee, the strings are being pulled by the puppeteer mullahs in Teheran.
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