Israelis Kill 8, wound 45 on Sunday
Strike Clinic, Ambulance, Factories, Minibus, Journalist
Hizbullah Rockets Hit Haifa, Kill 2
“Israeli warplanes continued their bombardment of Lebanon on Sunday, killing at least eight and wounding 45, as Hizbullah gave the Lebanese government the green light to negotiate on its behalf for a prisoner swap with Israel . . . “The Lebanese government will lead the exchange through the intermediary of a third party. This has been accepted by Hizbullah,” Speaker Nabih Berri said Sunday. . .
Meanwhile the Israeli offensive continued for the 12th straight day, bringing the overall death toll to at least 380 with over 1,000 wounded, according to Lebanese authorities.”
Jan Egeland, the United Nations undersecretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said Sunday after touring South Beirut that most of the victims of Israel’s attacks on Lebanon have been civilians, and that children are dying.
Israelis fired a missile that killed a Lebanese photographer who worked for The Bell magazine and for Agence France Presse, Layal Najib, 23.
An Israeli air strike killed 3 and wounded 13 when it hit a minibus “carrying 16 people fleeing the village of Tairi as it worked its way through the mountains from the Southern port city of Tyre . . . The Israeli military had told residents of Tairi and 12 other nearby villages Saturday to evacuate by 7 p.m. The villages form a corridor about 6 kilometers wide and 18 kilometers deep, believed to be the “buffer zone” desired by Israel.”
I have noted before that it isn’t very nice to make people leave their homes and then bomb them as they leave.
For more on the gauntlet that Israel is making innocent Lebanese civilians run in the south, see this article.
Lebanese television reported another 4 persons killed by Israeli air strikes in the south. Air raids on towns and villages around Tyre on Sunday left 45 wounded.
The Israelis also bombed south Beirut again. It is a pro-Hizbullah area, but its inhabitants are civilians.
On Sunday, Israel hit the Southern port city of Sidon for the first time, destroying a complex of buildings that contained clinics and service offices and was linked to Hizbullah, wounding four people. More than 5,000 people have sought refuge in the city from other Southern villages.
The Daily Star reports,
Israel also targeted Hizbullah’s power base in the Bekaa Valley, hitting three factories, a house and bridges and roads. The air strikes ignited large fires, killed at least one civilian and wounded two others.
Three rescuers from the Civil Defense personnel of the Islamic Scout Mission, an association affiliated with the Amal Movement, were wounded after Israeli air raids struck their ambulance as it transported wounded civilians to nearby hospitals, according to Hassan Hamdan, the association’s official in the South.”
If the latter report is correct, and if the ambulance was marked as such, this strike was an Israeli war crime. If the Biqa’ factories were not producing war materiel, hitting them was a war crime, too.
Hizbullah confirmed that the Israeli military had occupied the Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ra’s in the south near the Israeli border, but gloated over how difficult the conquest had been:
“The enemy is deceiving its own people and the world by presenting the occupation of Maroun al-Ras as a great military achievement,” a Hizbullah statement said. “An army using its elite forces and tanks backed by its air force that can enter a frontier village only after days of fighting … is a defeated and useless army.”
“Our steadfast fighters have presented through the Maroun al-Ras confrontations and the losses of the enemy – in troops, tanks and helicopters – an example of what the confrontations will be in every town, village and position,” it said.
The Israeli narrative of the battle agrees that too many Israeli soldiers were lost (7) or wounded in the taking of Maroun al-Ra’s, in part because of too much haste and poor tactical decisions (operating in broad daylight, letting individual tanks get isolated). Between 2 and 4 times as many Hizbullah fighers died. JP says the next challenge is to take Bint Jbail, a major Hizbullah stronghold.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Israeli troops found the Hizbullah fighters tenacious, and expect difficult battles ahead as they forge deeper into Lebanon. Joel Greenberg reports,
‘Sitting on the Merkava tank he commands, Assaf, 22, who gave only his first name, said his force had destroyed two abandoned Hezbollah positions across the border and was facing a “serious” adversary, which has used mines and anti-tank rockets to battle the Israeli armor. Dudi Mizrahi, 21, the tank driver, said Hezbollah had been pushed back from the border but was capable of putting up a determined fight. “They’re very small, but very, very stubborn,” he said. “If there is a deeper incursion, there will definitely be resistance. They’re hiding in bunkers, and they come out, fire a Katyusha rocket and go back in. They’re holding up.” ‘
Billmon quotes sources that do not believe the war is going at all well for Israel. Despite bombing Lebanon back to the stone age, they had not stopped the rocket attacks of Hizbullah, and taking a single village was costly for them. Billmon does not mention another element in the losing of the war, which is that aside from the US congress and the usual pundits in the US, most people in the world don’t seem to approve of the Israeli wholesale destruction of a whole country. I don’t think they were counting on those thousands of evacuees getting this kind of television coverage. They are used to controlling communications in Gaza and the West Bank and did not count on how intertwined Lebanon is with the world information system. (Hence their recent attacks on internet servers.)
Greenberg also reports on continued Hizbullah rocket strikes on northern Israel on Sunday:
‘More than 90 rockets were fired at cities and towns across northern Israel on Sunday, killing two people and wounding several others in the port city of Haifa and a neighboring suburb. One of the dead was a motorist, killed in his car by shrapnel; another was a worker in a carpentry shop wrecked by the rocket blast. A couple in another suburb were saved when they took shelter in a bombproof room before a rocket slammed into their home. ‘
Some readers have asked why I characterize Hizbullah’s rocket launches as war crimes. It is because the Geneva Convention requires that in war you have to aim at enemy combatants. You can’t deliberately target civilians, and you can’t endanger civilians unnecessarily. The Hizbullah rockets have poor targeting, and so just firing them endangers civilians. The rockets themselves have apparently killed almost no Israeli troops, and almost all their victims have been innocent civilians, like that poor man who was just driving along in or near Haifa. That is, the Hizbullah rockets have been fired indiscriminately (the only way they can be fired) and mainly hit civilian targets, which a prudent person could foresee. Bingo. War crime.
See the statement of the International Commission of Jurists.
See also The Fourth Geneva Convention:
There is actually an argument to be made that both Hizbullah and Israel have taken the civilian population of their enemy hostage. Since hostage-taking is forbidden, both are war criminals. I heard former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski make a similar argument at a salon dinner in Washington, DC, last week, though the wording above is my own.