Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Av 5766 - July 26, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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UN Official: Hizbullah are "Cowards" who Hide Behind Civilians

by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

The Two Sides Face Off

Jan Egeland, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, accused Hizbullah of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel. In contrast to the modern and widely accepted rules of war that mandate a clear separation between those who are fighting and those who are not, so that each side can target only the combatants, Hizbullah has built most of its facilities in and around places where civilian non- combatants live, thus ensuring that legitimate Israeli military activity targeted at fighters will also cause harm and suffering to civilians.

According to the modern rules of warfare, military personnel must wear clearly and easily identifiable uniforms, and military facilities must also be separate from civilians.

According to Ha'aretz, Egeland spoke with reporters in Cyprus after a visit to Lebanon on his mission to coordinate an international aid effort. On Sunday he toured the rubble of Beirut's southern suburbs, a once-teeming Shiite district where Hizbullah had its military headquarters and was thus a legitimate target of Israeli military activity.

During that visit he condemned the killing and wounding of civilians by both sides, and called Israel's offensive "disproportionate" and "a violation of international humanitarian law."

On Monday, in Cyprus, he also had strong words for Hizbullah. "Consistently, from the Hizbullah heartland, my message was that Hizbullah must stop this cowardly blending . . . among women and children," he said. "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men.

"We need a cessation of hostilities because this is a war where civilians are paying the price," said Egeland, before flying to Israel. Later at Ben-Gurion airport, Egeland said he will visit Nahariya, hit hard by Hizbullah rockets.

Although Egeland's description of Hizbullah's methods of operations — which is verified by all other reports from the areas — implies that Hizbullah is guilty of war crimes, Egeland did not explicitly draw that consequence.

At least 600,000 Lebanese have fled their homes, according to the World Health Organization. One estimate by Lebanon's finance minister putting the number at 750,000, nearly 20 percent of the population.

Israel's death toll is at least 40, with 17 people killed by Hizbullah rockets and 23 soldiers killed in the fighting, authorities said. Many thousands have also been displaced by Hizbullah attacks on peaceful residential areas with no military value.

Hizbullah is thus doubly guilty: it targets civilian noncombatants including Israel Arabs, and it endangers its own civilian noncombatants by deliberately locating its bases and fighters among them.

Hamas in the Gaza Strip uses the same anti-civilian approach.

The actions and polices of the Hamas leaders are directed towards gaining political and public relations advantages. The suffering of their own civilians is of lesser concern to them, at best.

After its unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif, Israel was prepared to spend over $100 million improving the passages into and out of Gaza to make life better and easier for the Palestinian residents since all their trade goes through Israel. However militant terrorists constantly attacked the passages, forcing Israel to keep them closed. The fruits and vegetables grown in the hothouses the Israeli settlers left behind ended up rotting.

Israel tried to bypass the security problems of some of the crossings by offering to open other crossings at Kerem Shalom and Sufa.

However on July 12, the United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory reported that the offer had been rejected by the PA. The PA has consistently refused to allow its citizens to use the Kerem Shalom crossing, even when they were suffering because the Rafah crossing was closed.

Three weeks ago some 5,000 Gazans returning from Egypt were stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, which was closed due to the fighting that followed the abduction of IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit. Eight died waiting to get in.

Israel agreed at an early stage to allow all 5,000 to enter Gaza, without even an Israeli security check, via the Kerem Shalom Israel-Egypt-Gaza terminal. Again Hamas authorities in Gaza refused. No reason was given but the only apparent reason is political.

All the international donors to the Palestinians have been looking for a way to send money directly to the people who need it, bypassing the openly terrorist Hamas officials. The European Union began a such fund for Palestinian humanitarian aid that is channeled directly to the needy. Israel agreed to this program for alleviating Palestinian suffering.

But in early July PA Health Minister Basim Naeem asked Palestinian hospital directors not to cooperate and to refuse to accept cash allowances paid directly to government doctors and nurses.


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