Robert Rosenberg’s July 31 “Today” column (entitled, “Green Light to Yellow”) recalls that Qana (or Kana) is the same village where 120 Lebanese were killed by Israeli artillery ten years ago – an incident which forced then Prime Minister Peres to end his “Grapes of Wrath” campaign against Hezbollah and prompted Israeli Arabs to boycott the polls in large numbers, probably leading to the election of Benjamin Netanyahu:
There was something familiar in the Israeli rhetoric yesterday and this morning in the press…. it was the same ‘we’re sorry but not apologizing’ that was heard after an explosion on a Gaza beach that had been targeted by Israeli warplanes killed seven members of a Gazan family, earlier this summer.
Israel’s basic argument when charged with causing civilian deaths in its combat against guerrilla and terrorist groups, is that when Israeli fire harms civilians, it is by accident, or because the terrorists hide behind the civilians, while the terrorists deliberately target Israeli civilians.
The IDF had plenty of footage yesterday showing Katyusha-launcher mounted pickup trucks in Qana firing rockets into Israel and then being driven into residential areas, hiding inside garages. According to Peretz, whenever possible, Israeli intelligence calls the civilian residents of such buildings, to warn the non-combatants to get out of the building, ‘two hours in advance.’
Indeed, south Lebanon villages and towns were covered with leaflets over the last two weeks, warning people to get out of the area. But Israel had bombed roads leading in and out of south Lebanon, trying to prevent Hezbollah from smuggling the kidnapped soldiers out of south Lebanon.
And just as tens of thousands of people in northern Israel are unable to get out of the area that is being targeted by Hezbollah rockets because they cannot afford to go anywhere else, there might be tens of thousands of south Lebanese trapped in the area….
Defeating a guerrilla group requires a political adroitness that neither Israel nor the Americans have successfully demonstrated in the last few years. For example, Israel could easily have cornered Syria, Lebanon and Hizbollah by simply announcing its plan to withdraw from the Shaba Farms area, captured from Syria in the 1967 war, but laid claim to by Hezbollah – and lately Lebanon – as Lebanese.
True, the area has some strategic importance but of no less strategic importance is neutralizing Hezbollah’s claims to Shaba, or at the very least pitting Hezbollah against Syria by forcing Syria to accept responsibility for Shaba.