Thursday, August 03, 2006

Death toll at Qana less that expected

Via Human Rights Watch

A preliminary Human Rights Watch investigation into the July 30 Israeli air strike in Qana found that 28 people are confirmed dead thus far, among them 16 children, Human Rights Watch said today.

"The deaths in Qana were the predictable result of Israel's indiscriminate bombing campaign in Lebanon, said Sarah Leah Whitson," director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. "Only an impartial international investigation can find out what really took place."

The initial estimate of 54 persons killed was based on a register of 63 persons who had sought shelter in the basement of the building that was struck, and rescue teams having located nine survivors. It now appears that at least 22 people escaped the basement, and 28 are confirmed dead, according to records from the Lebanese Red Cross and the government hospital in Tyre.

Thirteen people remain missing, and some Qana residents fear they are buried in the rubble, although recovery efforts have stopped.
You Tube of the day

A tribute to Charles Schulz.

Baleful quote of the day

Via Orcinus

"Connecticut should have its statehood taken away from it. The foolishness of its pampered residents should be demonstrated to others by a government program to bulldoze the entire state, salt the land and construct a windfarm to supply NYC with electricity. And its residents should be relocated to Guantanamo Bay where they can take a number behind the 3 who hung themselves this weekend, since they seem so intent on suicide." - Daniel Kish, a senior adviser to Rep. Pombo, in an email

What grave sin did the people of Connecticut do to deserve such a horrendous fate? An editorial ran in a Connecticut newspaper opposing drilling in Anwr.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Is this wrong?

My affinity for bad music has gotten the best of me again. I must say, I find these strangely addictive. There's something about the cheesy '80s glory of it that won't let me avert my eyes and ears.

And yes, that is a young Stacy Ferguson of Black Eyed Peas fame fronting the group.

Michelle Malkin bears false witness against Human Rights Watch

A regular reader of this blog would be aware that I have some degree of antipathy for Michelle Malkin. This sort of thing is why.

She says Human Rights Watch "predictably" denounced the bombing in Qana. Yeah, imagine that. A group dedicated to human rights denouncing a missile strike that resulted in the death of 56 civilians and at least 19 children. Of course, Michelle doesn't believe that Israel killed the civilians - she believes that Hezbollah killed them. Even so, were sufficient evidence to establish that, Human Rights Watch would surely condemn such an act harshly.

She continues on to say that Hezbollah's missiles are more indiscriminate than Israel's, noting that they load their rockets with ball bearings to maximise the harm to civilians. Then she asks rhetorically, "where is the human rights crowd on that?" Actually, Michelle, the "human rights crowd" is busy denouncing it.

Hezbollah's attacks in Israel on Sunday and Monday were at best indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, at worst the deliberate targeting of civilians. Either way, they were serious violations of international humanitarian law and probable war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today.

In addition, the warheads used suggest a desire to maximize harm to civilians. Some of the rockets launched against Haifa over the past two days contained hundreds of metal ball bearings that are of limited use against military targets but cause great harm to civilians and civilian property. The ball bearings lodge in the body and cause serious harm.

Hezbollah has reportedly fired more than 800 rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon over the past five days, killing 12 civilians and wounding many more. The vast majority of these rockets, as in past conflicts, have been Katyushas, which are small, have a range limited to the border area, and cannot be aimed with precision. Hezbollah has also fired some rockets in the current fighting that have landed up to 40 kilometers inside Israel.
This sort of intellectual dishonesty is despicable, especially so from someone who professes to be a journalist.

Michelle also states that Hezbollah hides among civilians. Michelle was unable to notice that Human Rights Watch also denounced that.

Can Israel attack neighborhoods that house Hezbollah leaders or offices? And what are Hezbollah's obligations regarding the use of civilian areas for military activities?

Where the targeting of a combatant takes place in an urban area, all parties must be aware of their obligations to protect the civilian population, as the bombing of urban areas significantly increases the risks to the civilian population. International humanitarian law obliges all belligerents to avoid harm to civilians or civilian objects.

The defending party in the case of Beirut, Hezbollah must take all necessary precautions to protect civilians against the dangers resulting from armed hostilities, and must never use the presence of civilians to shield themselves from attack. That requires positioning its military assets, troops and commanders as much as possible outside of populated areas. The use of human shields is a war crime.

In calculating the legality of an attack on premises where a Hezbollah combatant is present, Israel must take into account the risk to civilians. It is not relieved from this obligation on the grounds that it considers Hezbollah responsible for having located legitimate military targets within or near populated areas, or that Hezbollah may be using the civilian population as a shield. Even in situations of Hezbollah's illegal location of military targets, or shielding, Israel must refrain from launching any attack that may be expected to cause excessive civilian loss in comparison to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. That is, a violation by Hezbollah in this regard does not justify Israeli forces ignoring the civilian consequences of a planned attack. The intentional launch of an attack in an area without regard to the civilian consequences or in the knowledge that the harm to civilians would be disproportionately high compared to any definite military benefit to be achieved would be a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and a war crime.
So since Michelle despises moral equivalency so much, perhaps she could tell us how many civilian dead resulted from Hezbollah's firing rockets from Qana and then compare that to how many civilian dead resulted from Israel air striking Qana, and then perhaps some details about what Israel expected to accomplish with the attack, how many civilians it anticipated being in the area, etc. and maybe we can see in perspective if this strike met the spirit, if not the letter, of international law.

Since she is apparently too busy to check into such matters, I'll save her some time and provide a link to Alonzo at the Atheist Ethicist, since he's already done the leg work for her.

Or hell, maybe she could listen to Pat Buchanan. He seems to be making a lot of sense.

No sooner had Hezbollah taken the two Israeli soldiers hostage [Blogger's Note - and killed 8 other soldiers] than Israel unleashed an air war -- on Lebanon. The Beirut airport was bombed, its fuel storage tanks set ablaze. The coast was blockaded. Power plants, gas stations, lighthouses, bridges, roads, trucks and buses were all hit with air strikes.

Within 48 hours, it was apparent Israel was exploiting Hezbollah's attack to execute a preconceived military plan to destroy Lebanon -- i.e, the collective punishment of a people and nation for the crimes of a renegade militia they could not control. It was the moral equivalent of a municipal police going berserk, shooting, killing and ravaging an African-American community, because Black Panthers had ambushed and killed cops.

If Israel is not in violation of the principle of proportionality, by which Christians are to judge the conduct of a just war, what can that term mean? There are 600 civilian dead in Lebanon, 19 in Israel, a ratio of 30-1, though Hezbollah is firing unguided rockets, while Israel is using precision-guided munitions.

Thousands of Lebanese civilians are injured. Perhaps 800,000 are homeless.

Yet, whatever one thinks of the morality of what Israel is doing, the stupidity is paralyzing. Instead of maintaining the moral and political high ground it had -- when even Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan were condemning Hezbollah, and privately hoping Israel would inflict a humiliating defeat on Nasrallah -- Israel launched an air war on an innocent people. Now, 87 percent of Lebanese back Hezbollah, and the entire Arab and Islamic world, Shia and Sunni alike, is rallying behind Nasrallah.

Quote of the day

"Let us suppose that the great empire of China, with all is myriads of inhabitants, was suddenly swallowed up by an earthquake, and let us consider how a man of humanity in Europe, who had no sort of connection with that part of the world, would react upon receiving intelligence of this dreadful calamity. He would, I imagine, first of all express very strongly his sorrow for the misfortune of that unhappy people, he would make many melancholoy reflections upon the precariousness of human life, and the vanity of all the labours of man, which could thus be annihilated in a moment. He would, too, perhaps, if he was a man of speculation, enter into many reasonings concerning the effect which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe, and the trade and business of the world in general. And when all this fine philosophy was over, when all these humane sentiments had been once fairly expressed, he would pursue his business or his pleasure, take his repose or his diversion, with the same ease and tranquillity as if no such accident had happened. The most frivolous disaster which could befall himself would occasion a more real disturbance. If he was to lose his little finger tomorrow, he would not sleep to-night; but provided he never saw them, he would snore with the most profound security over the ruin of hundred million of his brethren." - Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, quoted from Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate