Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Qana: Déjà Vu All Over Again

(Note: this has sparked a heck of a discussion over at Kos. You may want to mosey over there and peruse it.)

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

-- Benjamin Franklin

Israeli shells hit a United Nations UNIFIL compound in the village of Qana, Lebanon killing 230.

Roughly 800 Lebanese civilians had taken refuge in the compound to escape the fighting between the Israeli Defense Force and Hezbollah. 106 of them were killed and roughly the same numbers of them were injured.

Journalist Robert Fisk wrote:
It was a massacre… The Lebanese refugee women and children and men lay in heaps, their hands or arms or legs missing, beheaded or disemboweled. There were well over a hundred of them. A baby lay without a head. The Israeli shells had scythed through them as they lay in the United Nations shelter, believing that they were safe under the world's protection.


In front of a burning building of the UN's Fijian battalion headquarters, a girl held a corpse in her arms, the body of a grey-haired man whose eyes were staring at her, and she rocked the corpse back and forth in her arms, keening and weeping and crying the same words over and over: "My father, my father." A Fijian UN soldier stood amid a sea of bodies and, without saying a word, held aloft the body of a headless child.

Israel's slaughter of civilians in this terrible 10-day offensive…has been so cavalier, so ferocious, that not a Lebanese will forgive this massacre.

Israel immediately expressed regret for the incident, saying that Hezbollah rocket positions were the intended target, not the UN compound. Israel's Prime Minister said, "We did not know that several hundred people were concentrated in that camp. It came to us as a bitter surprise."

The IDF's chief of staff said, "I don't see any mistake in judgment… We fought Hezbollah there [in Qana], and when they fire on us, we will fire at them to defend ourselves… I don't know any other rules of the game, either for the army or for civilians…"

A U.S. State Department spokesman said, "Hezbollah [is] using civilians as cover. That's a despicable thing to do, an evil thing."

Amnesty International later conducted an on-site investigation of the incident and concluded that, "the IDF intentionally attacked the UN compound, although the motives for doing so remain unclear. The IDF have failed to substantiate their claim that the attack was a mistake. Even if they were to do so they would still bear responsibility for killing so many civilians by taking the risk to launch an attack so close to the UN compound."

Human Rights Watch concurred. "The decision of those who planned the attack to choose a mix of high-explosive artillery shells that included deadly anti-personnel shells designed to maximize injuries on the ground — and the sustained firing of such shells, without warning, in close proximity to a large concentration of civilians — violated a key principle of international humanitarian law."

Osama bin Laden, head of al Qaeda, cited the Qana incident as a justification for his policy against the United States.

This should all sound familiar to you, but not because it's something that happened last week. What I've just described happened back in the spring of 1996.

And you should find it incredulous that Olmert, Bush, Cheney, Bolton and the rest of the neocons think the results of a prolonged Israeli assault on Lebanon will turn out any better this time than they did a decade ago.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.


  1. so, what, in your opinion, can one realistically expect to happen in order for this round of atrocities to stop? Is it any wonder that the resistance (aks terrorism) keeps alive and kicking? Holland was engaged in an 80yr war a few centuries ago with Spain, as they were determined to subjugate and convert those protestant heathens back into the catholic fold. We've been occupied and subjugated by Napoleon, the Germans, and, whether we were able to liberate ourselves or with the help of others, resistance was the course of choice and it never let up, not even during 80yrs of warfare. That is why I keep saying, violence won't work, people will keep resisting! Or do you think that that is why they're trying to kill off civilians (GAZA) so that there won't be anyone to resist anymore?

  2. Ingrid,

    That's a little too complicated to answer in a comment. Maybe too complicated to answer in a multi volume book series.

    Maybe a short answer, though, is something you suggest. Everyone has to get sick of wars and reject leaders who lead them into wars.

    But that's a bit oversimplified.

  3. Jeff, that was 'frustration' asking if you will. There is no easy answer as there are so many variables at play, I know that. One of my Israeli blogger friends asked me for advice relating to an initiative he wants to undertake. Part of me said, great, go for it, good luck. Another part of me is weary of any peaceful, even solution based initiative. is precisely what anyone needs to do, especially when feeling compelled to do so. Whether one is religious/spiritual, or has any other type of belief system, ultimately, you take actions for the right reasons that you can live with and which allows you to sleep at night. Every little bit helps.. it has to..