July 26, 2002



I would have written something about how all this "Hamas is using Palestinians as human shields" crap is complete nonsense, but Steven Chapman pretty much has it covered.

No, wait a minute. Let's put it this way. As Chapman says, Hamas are guerrillas fighting a war. Like every urban guerilla movement in history, they move among the people and with the people. All the evidence is that at least a dozen of the fatalities in the recent Israeli attack did not know who their neighbour was, or the danger they were in. If their deaths are justified by the fact guerrillas are among them, then by extension there's hardly a civilian death in the history of war that isn't justified. What is the difference between destroying a city block in Gaza in order to save it, and the levelling of Hue, except in scale? Or, Guernica? Or, speaking of art, the Massacres at Chios? Or, talking about the original guerrillas now, Goya's Third of May ? Our society as a whole is only worth saving to the degree to which we are able to rise above these kinds of precivilized brutalities. Levelling a city block to ensure one man blows up real good was something the Assyrians would have done. To say that Hamas would have done it too does not excuse anything... they abandoned their claims to humanity long ago.

Put it another way. Hamas says all civilians in Israel are legitimate military targets because the country has universal military service for its citizens, male and female. Once Israel decides that ALL Palestinians are, as Ralph Peters put it today, "legitimate military targets" so long as any hostilities continue, how then to distinguish the two positions?

The Israelis could have used a 500-lb bomb instead of a 2000-lb bomb. They could have used a Hellfire missile, with impunity. Either would still have certainly killed Shehadeh, the target. Either would certainly have led to fewer collateral casualties. But no, they used the most powerful conventional weapon in their arsenal on this man. Why?

Posted by BruceR at 02:07 PM