Hypocrisy About Hezbollah

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His book Blood and Religion is published by Pluto Press. Visit his Web site.

AnWar: "(...) First, we cannot easily know what Hezbollah is trying to hit because Israel has located most of its army camps, weapons factories, and military installations near or inside civilian communities. If a Hezbollah rocket slams into an Israeli town with a weapons factory, should we count that as an attack on civilians or on a military site?

The claim being made against Hezbollah in Lebanon – that it is "cowardly blending" with civilians, according to the UN's Jan Egeland – can, in truth, be made far more convincingly of the Israeli army. While there has been little convincing evidence that Hezbollah is firing its rocket from towns and villages in south Lebanon, or that its fighters are hiding there among civilians, it can be known beyond a shadow of a doubt that Israeli army camps and military installations are based in northern Israeli communities.


Because all the evidence suggests that Hezbollah has not been trying to hit the center of Haifa, where it would be certain of inflicting high casualties, whether its rockets were on target or slightly adrift. Instead, as BBC presenters have repeatedly shown us, the overwhelming majority of rockets land either in the mostly-abandoned port area or fall short into the bay – and on the odd occasion travel a little too far, as one did on Sunday landing on an Arab neighborhood near the port and killing two inhabitants. (...)

This, according to Human Rights Watch, still makes Hezbollah's rocket attacks war crimes. That may be true, but it of course also means Israel's missile strikes and bombardment of Lebanon are war crimes on the same or a greater scale. Hezbollah's strikes against civilians may be intentional or they may be the result of inaccurate guidance systems trying to hit military targets. Israel's strikes against civilians are either intentional or the result of accurate guidance systems and very faulty, to the point of reckless, military intelligence.

If Hezbollah's primary goal is to kill as many civilians as possible in Haifa, it seems to be going about it in a very strange manner indeed – unless we are to believe that none of its rockets could be fired the extra 1 km needed to hit central Haifa.(...)

In speeches, its leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly warned Israeli residents of areas like Haifa, Afula, Hadera, and Tel Aviv that Hezbollah will hit these cities with rockets days before it has actually done so. Hezbollah can claim just as fairly that it has given Israelis fair warning of its attacks on civilian communities, and that any who remain have only themselves to blame.

This debate is important because it will determine in the coming months and years who will be blamed by the international community – and future historians – for committing war crimes. Hezbollah deserves as fair a hearing as Israel, though at the moment it most certainly is not getting it.

Like every army in a war, Hezbollah may not be acting in a humane manner. But it is demonstrably acting according to the same standards as the Israeli army"
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