Medieval fresco from Lebanon
I've waited a bit to touch this topic. I find it almost to frustrating and depressing to address. Steve sponsered an interesting conversation about it on his blog, and I would just like to add to the comment I left there, especially centering on the question why I consider the Israeli response disporportionate:
1) The Israeli attacks have killed over 500 people and displaced three-quarters of a million people from their homes. In a population of under four million, this is about one-fifth of the inhabitants of the country. This is catastrophic.
2) Many of the targets seem to be attacked (in the most generous interpretation of what's going on) with anything but surgical precision. In the past few days we have seen the appalling massacre of civilians, many of them children, at Qana, a bombing of a UN Post, and an attack on a Lebanese military jeep by an unmanned drone that killed a soldier and wounded three others. In the latter case, and Israeli Army spokeswoman says they thought a Hezbollah militant was inside the jeep, but that afterwards, an "investigation later revealed that an officer and soldiers from the Lebanese army were hit, and they were not the target of the attack. Therefore the army expresses regret about the event."
In the case of the Qana attack, the Israeli government claimed that it had warned the residents of the village to leave before the attack. Leaving is a difficult proposition for many Lebanese, given the current refugee crisis, the difficulty of traveling for the poor, and the fact that Israel has attacked people trying to leave conflictive areas. It is hard to conclude that Israel makes eny effort whatsoever to spare civilian lives in this military operation.
3) Israel's attacks have not been limited to strikes on Hezbollah, but have included attacks on Lebanese infrastructure. One bombing of a power plant near Beruit has resulted in a catastrophic oil slick. It is very difficult to argue that what we are witnessing is only a military operation against a terrorist organization and not a war against an entire country.
Meanwhile, the government of my own country has fought any attempts to call for a cease-fire and continues to speed up bomb deliveries to Israel. This is not surprising, since the Bush administration's first instict in any conflict seems to be to react militarily. I am afraid, however, that Israel is not helping its own security in the long run. They are only creating an unstable Lebanon where poverty and hopelessness and memories of massacres incubate in slums where the only alternative offered will be that of extremism. The operation may reduce Hezbollah's operational abilities in the short term, but at a great cost.
Like I said, very depressing and frustrating. I lament the deaths of the Israelis who have been struck by Hezbollah's missles just as I lament the death and destruction suffered by the Lebanese. Still, I can imagine nothing coming out of this new war except more brutal suffering for everybody involved.