Sunday, October 29, 2006

Matt 24 Watch, 5: One reason why Civilians died in Lebanon

Following up on the "unbalanced and misleading world news" front, here is a telling explanation on one reason why many civilians died in S Lebanon during the recent conflict [HT: LGF].

Key excerpt:

. . . in the early 1980s, Syria, which then controlled Lebanon, reluctantly allowed a group of 500 Iranian Revolutionary Guards into the Lebanese city of Baalbek, providing the seed from which Hezbollah sprang forth . . . this terrorist organization began currying favor with the local population, providing many social services. Thus, when the popular Hezbollah secretly embarked upon activities with a more sinister purpose . . . the local population blindly accepted this activity without knowledge of what it involved.

The activity upon which Hezbollah had embarked was conversion of private homes into mini-military sites from where it could easily target Israel's civilian population . . . . Hezbollah construction teams had gone out and modified numerous Lebanese homes. Sometimes with, but most the time without, the homeowner's permission, workers began adding on a large, single-function room. These rooms were unique for, when completed, they lacked an essential element of all rooms -- a door. Each room was sealed shut -- but only, and immediately, after an object [which was literally kept under wraps] was placed inside . . . . When war erupted in southern Lebanon, designated leaders of Hezbollah combat teams received envelopes, each containing an address of one of the modified homes. The team quickly deployed to its assigned location, immediately breaking through an exterior wall of the sealed room. Each envelope contained aiming and firing instructions for the object prepositioned inside the room before it was sealed -- a surface-to-surface missile atop a launcher. After removing part of the room's roof to allow for unobstructed flight and on command, the team was to fire the missile, raining death and destruction down upon Israel's civilian population.

There was one major flaw in Hezbollah's home-conversion-to-missile-launch-site plan: Their construction activities had not gone unnoticed by Israeli intelligence . . . . [which identified] ahead of time the threat posed by Hezbollah's tactical use of private homes for military purposes -- a threat Israeli air power was then able to effectively negate. Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman alluded two days into the conflict to these illegal Hezbollah tactics, a reference apparently lost on the media that failed to investigate further.

Hezbollah had designed a tactical plan calculated to maximize civilian casualties on both sides of battlefield -- by design on the Israeli side in targeting its major population centers and by consequence on the Lebanese side as Israel responded. While this tactic was, from the Israeli perspective, checkmated by virtue of good intelligence, from the Lebanese perspective, many civilians at these launch sites were forced to pay the ultimate price. Sadly, from Hezbollah's perspective, these civilian casualties were but dispensable pawns in its chess match with Israel.
Notice not only the cynical exploitation of civilian trust by Hezbollah, but also that the Israeli UN Ambassador informed the world about what was going on right from the start of the fighting, but was ignored.

BTW, the article misses out the material point that it is credibly reported that Hezbollah, even before the kidnappings of soldiers in the North -- itself an internationally recognised causus belli, had already begun launching missiles into Northern Israel. As even so humble a source as Wikipedia reports:
The conflict began when Hezbollah fired Katyusha rockets and mortars at Israeli military positions and border villages to divert attention from another Hezbollah unit that crossed the border and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers (Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev) and killed three. Israel attempted to rescue the abducted soldiers although five more were killed by Hezbollah during the rescue mission. [Cf Haaretz report which gives details, and notes that that "[a]s soon as this barrage began, the Galilee Division conducted a routine check to ensure that all army outposts and vehicles were still in contact with headquarters, and quickly discovered that contact had been lost with the two jeeps patrolling near Zarit." This is how the raid and kidnaping were discovered. Contrast this Washington Post report, which tellingly omits reference to the initiation of rocketing and targetting of civilians by Hezbollah.]
What does the above and linked tell us about the attitudes and intent of the news and views presenters in the major media? Have you seen or heard this side of the story in the international or regional news reports usually seen by most people in the Caribbean? Why, in your opinion, is that so?

How, then should we view their presentations on other sensitive and controversial issues?

I see that the posting problems yesterday at Blogger led to multiple copies, even though my edit feature now says they do not exist. Do, pardon the problem. Also, I realised that there is a dearth of background to understand the wider situation with Israel: for instance, I have long used the question of telling the significance of the year 1919 and the names Chaim Weizmann and Feisal Hussein as a test to see if one knows enough to think and comment with accurate and balanced insight. [If you do not know the significance of these names and that date, you objectively do not know enough to comment fairly and in an informed way. A similar question is why is there an Arab state called Jordan.] So, for a brief balancing overview of the history of modern Israel go here. This short myth-correcting book [PDF format] will also be helpful.

UPDATE: Seems that the edit and repost above fixed the multiple copies problem!

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