Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hiding Among and Targeting Civilians

Israel continues to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah continues to fire rockets (update: almost 1,600) at Israeli civilians, while hiding among civilians in Lebanon.

Law Prof Kenneth Anderson looks at commingling civilian and military objects: "At the beginning of the Iraq war, a group of professors and other law of war experts issued a public letter urging attention to the fact that defenders, as well as attackers, have obligations to protect civilians under the laws of war." Excerpts [emphasis mine]:

[Both attackers and defenders must] take measures to protect civilians and minimize collateral damage during combat operations. These measures include prohibitions against the willful co-location and commingling of military targets among civilians and civilian objects for the purpose of rendering legitimate military objectives “off-limits” to attacking forces for fear of causing collateral damage. They further include prohibitions against the use of human shields or hostages, whether voluntary or involuntary, and whether by attackers or defenders, in order to protect military objectives.

Both attacking and defending military forces have independent ... legal obligations toward civilians ... Their respective obligations merit equal emphasis in media reporting and commentary as well as in monitoring by human rights organizations... Reporting on instances of collateral damage must properly ask not only whether attacking forces took due precautions for the protection of noncombatants but also whether defending forces likewise took due precautions for civilian protection or, instead, whether defending forces explicitly or implicitly relied on the proximity of civilians to shield their forces from attack in violation of the laws of war. In accordance with settled standards of international humanitarian law and the laws of war, obligations of defenders to protect civilians are no less important or less obligatory than those of attackers.

... Generally speaking, the laws of war apply with equal rigor to all parties, and bind equally all military forces, whether large or small, well-equipped or not, advanced or inferior in quality or training.

... Any effort to accept or justify the proposition that the laws of war’s strictures bind some parties more than others, or that non-compliance by some parties is somehow excusable or justifiable, would irredeemably erode the laws of war.

HT: Instapundit

One commenter: "... the difference is that Israel causes civilian casualties when it misses its targets, Hezbollah causes civilian casualties when it hits its targets."

Previously: Geneva Conventions as Tactical Manual

Update 7/29: More evidence that "Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia," from pictures smuggled out of Lebanon. "Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated."

7/30: Putting it another way: "If you hide behind your baby to shoot at my baby, you are responsible for getting children killed. You and you alone."


Comments:

(Please keep in mind that each commenter's opinions are only his/her own.)



I think that when Palestinians are in BIG refugee camps all the way up the Lebanese border, they can't go back home and can't work in Lebanon, brew this for 50 years and large numbers will become Hezbollah. Its obvious no? Hezbollah are the civilians.
 


Cheers, DB! Good to hear from you.

The refugee camps are sad things indeed, particularly with all the money flowing (and that could flow) into the region from the rest of the middle east.
 


Isreal never hides among civilian targets, huh? look closer. Of particular interest is:

"The ICRC has closely monitored the consequences of military operations in Nablus district and was particularly concerned by the operation that took place between 19 and 22 July, during which the headquarters of the Palestine Red Crescent Society were occupied by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). The ICRC called on the IDF to respect the Red Crescent emblem and the medical mission in general. Moreover, on 20 July, it issued a press release calling on the Israeli army to immediately leave the PRCS premises in Nablus."

Emphasis mine.
 


Scott: Sorry about the delay. Been slammed with work.

Your link looks interesting. But it the Israelis don't seem to be hiding as much as flushing out hiders. If Palestinian militants used the Red Crescent to stage attacks, that makes it a combat area by the Geneva conventions (and an abuse of the Red Crescent). But if not, it's wrong for the IDF to occupy it.

I'll see what I can find.
 


Seems the Palestine Red Crescent Society isn't always too careful who it hires. Maybe that's the case here. (I mentioned staging attacks, but providing safe haven counts too.)

Though occupied, it doesn't seem there were casualties. I'm glad for that.
 


"Careful who it hires"? What are you suggesting? The link you have doesn't mention anything about any employee of the PRCS.

I can only logically conclude that you are assuming the PRCS hired someone which placed the bomb in the ambulance. Interesting conclusion you've made there, considering that your own link makes no such inference.
 


Physicians for Human Rights, 3/28/2002: The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and media reported today that the IDF discovered a bomb in an ambulance outside Ramallah and arrested the driver, who was employed by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Carrying a bomb in a medical vehicle represents a grave breach of international humanitarian law and gross misuse of the Red Crescent emblem and the neutral status it bestows.

Each "grave breach" and "gross misuse" does incredible harm to the Palestinian people.

The Israelis don't seem to occupy the Red Crescent HQ on a weekly basis. Why did they this time? Was it in response to a "grave breach" or "gross misuse?"
 


You have yet to support your claim that the PRCS hired someone to place the bomb in the ambulance.

I did find this section in your link interesting, though:

"These basic procedures must include vehicle inspections, clear communication of decisions within the IDF when inspections have resulted in clearance, and an end to IDF attacks on ambulances and medical personnel after clearance has been given."

Physicians for Human Rights clearly acknowledges IDF attacks on ambulances and medical personnel.
 


Scott: You have yet to support your claim that the PRCS hired someone to place the bomb in the ambulance.

My claim isn't (and never was) that the PRCS deliberately hired someone to place the bomb, but that they didn't sufficiently screen out individuals intent on placing bombs. (Look closer. Re-read.)

Scott: Physicians for Human Rights clearly acknowledges IDF attacks on ambulances and medical personnel.

They're implying that IDF attacks aren't from malice, but from a lack of communication (between those inspecting ambulances and others). I'd guess that's true.

Reinforces the fact that "Carrying a bomb in a medical vehicle represents a grave breach of international humanitarian law and gross misuse of the Red Crescent emblem and the neutral status it bestows."

When you don't comment on that statement (as you haven't), does that mean you agree or disagree with it?

You haven't commented on Israelis hiding vs. flushing out hiders, either.
 


Look closer. Re-read, yourself. My initial post simply pointed you to a story where the IDF did, in fact, occupy the PRCS - not merely a "civilian target" - but one, for lack of a better word "blatantly civilian". This was in direct response to what I interpret in your post to be that Isreal is not guilty of some of the same tactics as Palestine. I don't disagree that Palestine is guilty of these tactics. Nor do I, however, believe Isreal to be the country of living Saints that you apparently believe them to be.

Furthermore, my question was what you were implying by the statement "Palestinian Red Crescent Society isn't too careful who it hires". This is a question that, after initially attempting to defend, you had not answered until just now in your most recent comment. I am satisified with your answer. I'm glad you clarified it here as it could easily be mis-interpreted (and was).

So, you assume then, that the driver was, in fact, found guilty. A point that the article never mentions. It states that he was arrested, which makes sense. After all, he was driving the vehicle. It never mentions, however, that he was found guilty. Again, that seems to be a conclusion you're making on your own. I find that interesting.

Do you make the same assumptions of Americans that get arrested? There's this thing here called Due Process. You should look into it.

This is the discussion at hand. Stick to it. Don't change the subject.

Israelis hiding vs. flushing out hiders is your own interpretation of the link I provided and is not substantiated anywhere that I can see. Are you implying that the PRCS was providing safe haven for active Palestinian attackers? A more reasonable and logical assumption would be that the PRCS was providing care for wounded Palestinians. That is, after all, what they're there for.
 


... not merely a "civilian target" - but one, for lack of a better word "blatantly civilian".

Yes, but it loses that status if Palestinian combatants abuse it, as I tried to point out. That's why those abuses are particularly heinous.

This was in direct response to what I interpret in your post to be that Isreal is not guilty of some of the same tactics as Palestine.

"Some" as in one, with no reported casualties, and with Israel possibly having the right to do just what it did (i.e., in response to an abuse of the PRCS by Palestinian combatants). And not "the same tactics as Palestine" as in over 100 homicide bombings, firing rockets into civilian areas, using Palestinians as human shields, etc. It's absurd to paint them with the same brush.

I don't disagree that Palestine is guilty of these tactics. Nor do I, however, believe Isreal to be the country of living Saints that you apparently believe them to be.

I'm glad to hear you mention Palestine. They deserve a lot more of your scrutiny.

I don't believe Israel is a country of living Saints, but a western-style democracy where, like here, the rule of law applies. Get a large enough group together (e.g., the Israeli army) and you'll have every sort of crime. But it gets investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. Justice isn't served perfectly, but it's a completely different situation than thug-ruled Palestine.

Sorry about the ambiguity of my PRCS statement. I believe (or will give the benefit of the doubt) to the PRCS, that they're honestly trying to pursue their humanitarian mission. A mission seriously hampered by Palestinian terrorists (as I pointed out).

So, you assume then, that the driver was, in fact, found guilty. ... Again, that seems to be a conclusion you're making on your own.

An educated guess. In fact, the "driver confessed that it was not the first time ambulances had been used to ferry explosives." Now I don't have a notarized copy of the court's judgment in my possession, so you could still presume his innocence.

Further, the "bomb, packed in a suicide belt, was hidden under a gurney carrying a Palestinian child." Which ties it back to hiding behind civilians--even children--to murder Israeli civilians. This post's original topic.

And here are more abuses.

(S: "Do you make the same assumptions of Americans that get arrested? There's this thing here called Due Process. You should look into it." I'll take your advice and stick to the discussion at hand.)

Israelis hiding vs. flushing out hiders is your own interpretation of the link I provided and is not substantiated anywhere that I can see.

You said, "Isreal never hides among civilian targets, huh?" You seemed to be suggesting they were. That's what I was going on.

Further, your link never explicitly states that Israel was doing something illegal or outside of their right of self-defense. Should I demand that you "substantiate" that?

Are you implying that the PRCS was providing safe haven for active Palestinian attackers?

More that the PRCS was being abused by thugs--some, perhaps, in their employ.

A more reasonable and logical assumption would be that the PRCS was providing care for wounded Palestinians.

Extrapolating what we know leads to the more reasonable conclusion that Palestinian combatants were likely abusing the PRCS.
 


"Yes, but it loses that status if Palestinian combatants abuse it, as I tried to point out. That's why those abuses are particularly heinous."

Another assumption - your own conclusion, and one that is not referred to in my original link. I agree with your statement here, but it is merely your assumption that this is the case.

""Some" as in one, with no reported casualties, and with Israel possibly having the right to do just what it did (i.e., in response to an abuse of the PRCS by Palestinian combatants). And not "the same tactics as Palestine" as in over 100 homicide bombings, firing rockets into civilian areas, using Palestinians as human shields, etc. It's absurd to paint them with the same brush."

Again, you're assuming the PRCS was occupied by Palestinian combatants. Something the article mentions nothing about. In fact, it was the IDF that was occupying the PRCS. When I said "the same tactics as", what I meant was Israel and Palestine have been at war for years. It's a horrible conflict. I once heard someone say that war is mankind's ultimate failure. I'll go further to say that when two countries wage war, the leaders of those countries also fail their people. Frankly, your zealous love of Israel bothers me. I had a good friend in college who is Palestinian. His family still lives over there. They're good people. The best. Your posts never give any consideration to the innocent Palestinians subjected to Israeli attacks.

"I'm glad to hear you mention Palestine. They deserve a lot more of your scrutiny."

As I just mentioned, through my friend, Nakleh, I know enough to realize that there are evil deeds being perpetrated on both sides of the conflict.

"I don't believe Israel is a country of living Saints, but a western-style democracy where, like here, the rule of law applies. Get a large enough group together (e.g., the Israeli army) and you'll have every sort of crime. But it gets investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. Justice isn't served perfectly, but it's a completely different situation than thug-ruled Palestine."

I'm glad you don't believe Israel to be completely innocent. The tone of your posts lead me to believe otherwise. I agree with your comment about Palestine being ruled by thugs.

"Sorry about the ambiguity of my PRCS statement. I believe (or will give the benefit of the doubt) to the PRCS, that they're honestly trying to pursue their humanitarian mission. A mission seriously hampered by Palestinian terrorists (as I pointed out)."

Again, you're pointing out your assumption. Other than that, I too, believe that the PRCS' mission is being hampered by Palestinian terrorists. I also believe it's sometimes hampered by Isreal.

"An educated guess. In fact, the "driver confessed that it was not the first time ambulances had been used to ferry explosives." Now I don't have a notarized copy of the court's judgment in my possession, so you could still presume his innocence."

Educated guess, my ass. That's your assumption. Look closer at the link you use here. The story says the driver confess that this has been done before. He didn't confess to this crime. Malkin goes on to talk about OTHER instances where this has occurred, true, but this instance does not appear to be similar. So, yes, I will presume his innocence.

"You said, "Isreal never hides among civilian targets, huh?" You seemed to be suggesting they were. That's what I was going on.

Further, your link never explicitly states that Israel was doing something illegal or outside of their right of self-defense. Should I demand that you "substantiate" that?"


Ok, maybe not "hiding" per se. But, as my original link shows, the PRCS clearly felt the IDF presence was unwarrented. They had to issue a full press release requesting them to leave before they did. Simply by being there, they made the PRCS a target by the very same "Palestinian thugs" you refer to earlier. I don't say that they were doing something illegal, you're correct.

What I'm saying is that the PRCS felt that the IDF presence was not in accordance with the Red Crescent emblem and the medical mission in general. And that by occupying the PRCS makes them a target. You felt that if the PRCS was occupied by Palestinian thugs, then that made it a legitimate military targe, right? The reverse is also true.

"Extrapolating what we know leads to the more reasonable conclusion that Palestinian combatants were likely abusing the PRCS."

All you're saying here is that based on historical events, you feel safe in your assumpmtion that Palestinian combatants were hiding out in the PRCS, thereby justifying the occupation of the PRCS by the IDF. Again, your assumption...
 


Another assumption ... merely your assumption ... Again, you're assuming ... you feel safe in your assumpmtion ...

I consider it a better extrapolation than yours. The pattern is compelling. Neither of us has enough to go on, and your assumptions are no more legit.

It's a horrible conflict.

I agree completely.

... I know enough to realize that there are evil deeds being perpetrated on both sides of the conflict.

I agree, though both sides aren't equal.

I once heard someone say that war is mankind's ultimate failure. I'll go further to say that when two countries wage war, the leaders of those countries also fail their people.

Your sweeping statement sounds noble, but fails to distinguish between the attacker and the attacked. That bothers me.

Frankly, your zealous love of Israel bothers me. ... I'm glad you don't believe Israel to be completely innocent. The tone of your posts lead me to believe otherwise. [Hope grouping these doesn't misrepresent your words.]

I'd call it a strong bias toward (or zealous love, if you will, of) Western Civilization. I see Israel as western: certainly not perfect, lots of bad blood in their 60-year conflict, but a nation where the rule of law prevails. I see Palestine very differently. I harp on that and maybe it comes across as you describe.

Israel needs to do what's right and be held to account when they don't. I'm convinced, though, that an objective look would find itself focused on Palestine 99% of the time.

I had a good friend in college who is Palestinian. His family still lives over there. They're good people. The best. Your posts never give any consideration to the innocent Palestinians subjected to Israeli attacks.

My condolences to your friend and his family. It saddens me that after I repeatedly decry the abuses destroying Palestine, I'm still accused of "never giv[ing] any consideration."

Palestine's thugs and terrorists (i.e., their leaders) are by far the biggest problem. Everything they do is designed to get Palestinians killed, or destroy their quality of life. Your neglecting that seems like the biggest disservice to innocent Palestinians. Innocent Palestinians caught in the cross-fire deserve much, much, much better.

The story says the driver confess that this has been done before. He didn't confess to this crime. ... So, yes, I will presume his innocence.

Your defensive contortion is ridiculous. He's innocent, but in a position to know what's been done before? Like his friends were doing it, but he never took part? Not a chance. And if it has been done before, that alone proves that the PRCS was abused. Think about it.

...the PRCS clearly felt the IDF presence was unwarrented...

They "felt" that, but what's the reality? Neither of us have evidence of what went on there (yet), just what the PRCS "felt."

...PRCS felt that the IDF presence was not in accordance with the Red Crescent emblem and the medical mission in general...

In general, it's not. In general, the IDF doesn't do what they did here. So why did they now?

Simply by being there, they made the PRCS a target by the very same "Palestinian thugs" you refer to earlier.

I don't operate under the pretense that those thugs respect anything.

The evidence clearly shows they were already a target in a number of ways, as I've described and you've just acknowledged. If the record showed terrorists genuinely respecting the PRCS instead of abusing it to murder Israelis, I think Israel would honor that. Or at least their critics would have some ground to stand on.
 


"I consider it a better extrapolation than yours. The pattern is compelling. Neither of us has enough to go on, and your assumptions are no more legit."

I don't believe I'm making nearly as many assumptions as you, but that's your opinion. Fine. I'm tired of arguing about it. This is clearly going nowhere.

"Your sweeping statement sounds noble, but fails to distinguish between the attacker and the attacked. That bothers me."

Tough. When God said "love thy neighbor", I think he probably meant don't kill them.

"My condolences to your friend and his family. It saddens me that after I repeatedly decry the abuses destroying Palestine, I'm still accused of "never giv[ing] any consideration.""

Huh. So this is decrying the abuses of destroying Palestine? If that's your intent, you're delivery sucks.

"Palestine's thugs and terrorists (i.e., their leaders) are by far the biggest problem. Everything they do is designed to get Palestinians killed, or destroy their quality of life. Your neglecting that seems like the biggest disservice to innocent Palestinians. Innocent Palestinians caught in the cross-fire deserve much, much, much better."

You know, you do that a lot - make assumptions based on things people aren't saying. That's a really annoying habit. Furthermore, my lack of debate on the subject of the wrongs done to innocent Palestinians by their own leaders isn't the subject at hand. Quit changing the subject and please, please, please don't assume that if I'm not commenting on something, you know what my thoughts are on the topic. Your assumptions are usually wrong. Besides, I don't usually have problems speaking my mind, do I?

"Your defensive contortion is ridiculous. He's innocent, but in a position to know what's been done before? Like his friends were doing it, but he never took part? Not a chance. And if it has been done before, that alone proves that the PRCS was abused. Think about it."

My defensive contortion? You know what's been done before, don't you? Are you guilty?

Isn't it possible that someone else placed the bomb there and he's just a good person working for the PRCS by volunteering to drive the ambulance?

"
They "felt" that, but what's the reality? Neither of us have evidence of what went on there (yet), just what the PRCS "felt.""


I'm inclined to support the PRCS view of the issue. Maybe you're not. Fine. Another point I'm tired of arguing over.

"I don't operate under the pretense that those thugs respect anything."

Fine. What they respect, however, doesn't enter into it. If it's wrong for Palestinian attackers to occupy the PRCS, then it's equally wrong for the IDF to do so. Just because your view of the Palestinian attackers is such, doesn't sanction the IDF. Or, if the Palestinians have no respect for the PRCS, then it's OK for the IDF to equally have no respect for the PRCS. Is that it?

"The evidence clearly shows they were already a target in a number of ways, as I've described and you've just acknowledged. If the record showed terrorists genuinely respecting the PRCS instead of abusing it to murder Israelis, I think Israel would honor that. Or at least their critics would have some ground to stand on."

All you've shown is a history of Palestinian terrorists abusing the PRCS - hardly "evidence" in terms of this instance. I've also shown an incident where the IDF has also abused the PRCS. Are the Palestinians atrocities equal to this action of the IDF? Absolutely not. However, the IDF is not as innocuous as you believe them to be. Are we agreed on this at least?
 


When God said "love thy neighbor", I think he probably meant don't kill them.

What about allowing them to be killed? The Polish citizen in 1939 sees his German Nazi neighbors sweeping through his neighborhood, shooting, hanging, rounding up his next-door neighbors for the gas chambers. Does he love his German neighbor by allowing it, or love his next-door neighbor by resisting it? Does he flip a coin? Or is doing nothing always the right thing to do? The crux of that argument, which you're avoiding.

So this is decrying the abuses of destroying Palestine?

That's exactly what it is. If that stopped, Palestinian civilian deaths would drop sharply (maybe to zero). It beats silence, and at least agitates your pathological avoidance/denial thing. Groups like Amnesty think calling attention to abuses is doing something.

If that's your intent, you're delivery sucks.

Perhaps so. I gotta work with what I have. Show me a better way.

You know, you do that a lot - make assumptions based on things people aren't saying. That's a really annoying habit.

But the avoidance/denial thing is the very core of your pathology. That's what I'm after--getting you (and everyone) to look closer, and not look away.

How do I know what you're thinking, what's important, etc., if you don't say?

And while we're on the topic, what you do say matters, too. How does this PRCS incident (though possibly wrong but with no apparent casualties) rank relative to mass murder, attempted mass murder, etc? It's been an interesting exercise in many respects, but is it worth the attention we've given it?

Furthermore, my lack of debate on the subject of the wrongs done to innocent Palestinians by their own leaders isn't the subject at hand.

This post's title: "Hiding Among and Targeting Civilians." I'd say it's relevant, though it deserves its own post. (As this discussion probably did--my fault for not starting a separate post.)

You know what's been done before, don't you? Are you guilty?

Confessing in the context of a criminal investigation would involve pertinent information not already in the public domain. Reciting from the public record wouldn't be considered confessing. My reading it from the public record, after the fact, has no bearing. You're way off the deep end here.

Isn't it possible that someone else placed the bomb there and he's just a good person working for the PRCS by volunteering to drive the ambulance?

Possible, but so incredibly unlikely given what we know, and still shows the PRCS abused. It's also possible that little green men from outerspace did it (and equally likely).

If it's wrong for Palestinian attackers to occupy the PRCS, then it's equally wrong for the IDF to do so. ... I've also shown an incident where the IDF has also abused the PRCS.

Only if they didn't have just cause.

All you've shown is a history of Palestinian terrorists abusing the PRCS - hardly "evidence" in terms of this instance.

With nothing else to go on, Ockham's razor applies. A pattern of abuse suggests abuse in this case. The specifics, though, would help a lot.

However, the IDF is not as innocuous as you believe them to be. Are we agreed on this at least?

The potential for abuse exists, and I'm convinced their soldiers have perpetrated crimes. Still, that they investigate and prosecute their own still puts them in a completely different category.

Another PRCS data point: a number of other organizations do relief work in Palestine. Only the PRCS was occupied. (Am I right?) Why?

I'm amazed at the strength and tenacity of your avoidance/denial reflex. This sheds new light on what I thought were your reading comprehension skills. (That last part's a compliment, by the way.) I'll still tell you to re-read when I think you need to, but for different reasons. Interestingly, the reflex vanishes when the IDF comes up. So it's not completely unconscious.
 


"Confessing in the context of a criminal investigation would involve pertinent information not already in the public domain. Reciting from the public record wouldn't be considered confessing. My reading it from the public record, after the fact, has no bearing. You're way off the deep end here."

You would be correct IF he was confessing in the context of a criminial investigation. That's not the case, and you've failed to look closer.

"
I'm amazed at the strength and tenacity of your avoidance/denial reflex. This sheds new light on what I thought were your reading comprehension skills. (That last part's a compliment, by the way.)"


Funny. I don't take it as such. This conversation is over. You're a lost cause. Goodbye.
 


You would be correct IF he was confessing in the context of a criminial investigation. That's not the case, and you've failed to look closer.

Huh?

You're a lost cause. Goodbye.

And I was patting myself on the back for my patience. Oh well.

Thanks for your time.
 


P.S.: On the topic of ranking wrongs done, a red-cross worker was, in fact, murdered recently.
 

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