Sunday, July 30, 2006

Does Hezbollah TARGET Non-Combatants, or Not?

Does Hezbollah TARGET Non-Combatants, or Not?
by John Spritzler

In my previous posts I discuss why I do not support violence targeted against non-combatants. But does Hezbollah target non-combatants? Some people argue that in fact Hezbollah does NOT target non-combatants, that its rockets falling on Israel are targeted only at legitimate military targets, and that when non-combatants die from these rockets it is only as a collateral consequence and not at all the intended objective of the rockets being fired. To the extent that this claim is true, then I do not criticize Hezbollah for firing such rockets.

I would like to know, however, if this claim is indeed true. I have tried to find out by looking for an English-language official web site of Hezbollah. I haven't found it. The closest I have found is this one, which does not address the question (and does not seem to have been updated very recently.)

Does anybody have solid information on this question? If so, I would like to hear from you.

Any organization fighting on the working class side of the class war would have, as one of its highest priorities, communicating to the world that its violence was directed only at anti-working class combatants and military targets like weapons factories. And by the same token, the anti-working class forces would have as one of its highest priorities making sure that its enemy did not succeed in communicating this message to the world. So the fact that we do not read or hear in our mass media about Hezbollah's only targeting combatants and military targets does not, by itself, prove that Hezbollah is not trying to communicate that message. Hezbollah may or may not. I, and literally billions of other people, would like to know what their official position is on this question. If anybody can provide the answer, please do.

If it is indeed the case that Hezbollah only targets combatants and military targets, and that civilian deaths from their actions are collateral, and not at all the intended, effects, then I will do everything I can to spread this word and thereby build more support for Hezbollah and hasten the abolition of the apartheid Israeli regime. This would be the opposite of what some people are currently doing, which is "defending" Hezbollah by apologizing for its (supposed) targeting of non-combatants, thereby helping Israel to isolate its enemies from public support by portraying them as people who just hate Jews.

Please help spread the word about what Hezbollah's true intentions are, with respect to non-combatants, in its current use of rockets aimed at targets inside Israel. To start with, this means confirming what Hezbollah actually officially says about this question. Secondly, it means judging from Hezbollah's actual practice whether it conforms to their stated official views. (Israel, for example, claims that it does not target non-combatants and that when they die from Israeli actions it is only a collateral effect, but we know this is disingenuous. Also, let us not forget, Israeli violence against combatants is just as unjust as its violence against non-combatants, because its purpose is to enforce unjust ethnic cleansing and apartheid.)

Apparently Israeli law prohibits people in Israel from discussing the location of military targets. Still, if anybody can provide clear evidence as to whether or not Hezbollah's rockets seem to be aimed exclusively at military targets or not, please let us know. If they are so aimed, we should help spread that word. If not, we should know that too.


At 6:22 AM, July 31, 2006, Blogger John Spritzler said...

received from one reader:

Dear John,
The deeds are more important than declarations. After 11 days of war (The Guardian, 22 July 2006):
a.. Lebanese casualties were reported as 66 military, 345 civilians, with +1000 wounded
b.. Israeli casualties were 15 military, 19 civilians, with +300 wounded
Thus we see that for Hizballah, civilians' death is collateral while for Israel, they are the target. In my view, it is sufficient to judge.

At 6:53 AM, July 31, 2006, Blogger John Spritzler said...

Another reader replied by email (see below), comparing the very different magnitude of Hezbollah versus Israeli killing of non-combatants, noting that the Allies in WWII heavily targeted German civilians, and disagreeing that my question (does Hezbollah deliberately target non-combatants?) ought to be asked. I still think, however, that the question should be asked, and answered as best we can. --John

In a message dated 31/07/06 08:03:22 GMT Daylight Time, writes:
This is not the question that ought to be asked. The allies during WWII, including the US and Britain, also heavily targeted German civilians.

The real question that should be asked is "who is the criminal in this war?" Who is the aggressor? who is using excessive and vastly disproportonate force against civilians, in response to a minor provocation, if indeed we can call the capture of two Israeli occupation soldiers "a provocation."

Indeed, if Israel has the right to destroy Lebanon and massacre civilians because Hizbullah abducted and killed a few Israeli soldiers, then Nazi Germany had the right to destroy Ghetto Warsaw and annhilate tens of thousands of Jews and others because some Jews also killed German soldiers and raped German women while others collaborated with the Allies against Germany.

You see, you are ignoring the matter of "excessiveness and disproportionateness" in this war. If I throw a stone at you, you don't have the right to destroy my home, kill my family and bomb my entire community and town.

That is called a war crime, a crime against humanity, irrespective of the original pretext.

And, as far as I know, 90% of Israeli casualties in this war are soldiers, while 95% of Lebanese casualties are innocent civilians.

In short, Israel ought to be treated as a Nazi state and her army as a Jewish Gestapo and a Jewish wehrmacht.

In the final analysis, when Jews think, behave and act like Nazis, they become Nazis.

And, yes, Israel represents the Nazis of our time.


At 1:20 PM, July 31, 2006, Blogger dav said...

From a letter to Juan Cole:

The ratio of civilians to military people killed by Hizbullah compared to Israel makes your statement remarkable - to put it mildly.. You say Hizbullah is "clearly deliberately targetting civilians" but in Israel's case that is not yet proven?

Jonathan Cook has noted "Hizbullah�s rockets have been targeted overwhelming at strategic locations: the northern economic hub of Haifa, its satellite towns and the array of military sites across the Galilee.

and also that "....It is obvious to everyone in Nazareth, for example, that the rockets landing close by, and once on, the city over the past week are searching out, and some have fallen extremely close to, the weapons factory sited near us.

Hizbullah seems to have as little concern for the collateral damage of civilian deaths as Israel -- each wants the balance of terror in its favour -- but it is nonsense to suggest that Hizbullah�s goals are any more ignoble than Israel�s."

At 8:39 PM, July 31, 2006, Blogger John Spritzler said...


I never said that it was not yet proven that Israel targets civilians. Of course it does so. The reason it does so, by the way, is because it is an anti-working class government trying to foment a war along religious lines to make its own Jewish population easier to control (and of course the U.S. ruling class likes the fact that this also deflects popular Arab anger away from Arab upper class regimes.)

In my earlier post I did assume that Hezbollah leaders were targeting Israeli civilians (in part because Hamas endorses violence targeted against non-combatants.) Now, I do not claim to know the answer, which is why I wrote this post, to try to find out what is the truth.

The importance of the question about whether or not Hezbollah targets non-combatants has nothing to do with judging "which side is worse" or "which side people should support." I support the people and rank and file soldiers who are fighting the IDF regardless of whether their Hezbollah leaders are helping or hurting that effort by targeting non-combatants. The question is important for a very different reason, to understand what the political goals of the Hezbollah leaders are, and whether those goals are helping or hurting the fight to abolish apartheid Israel.

You write, "Hizbullah seems to have as little concern for the collateral damage of civilian deaths as Israel -- each wants the balance of terror in its favour..." I don't know if your statement is true or false. But if it is true, then it would suggest that the Hezbollah leadership either wants to foment a war along religious, not class, lines, or that they have no particular objection to such a war. This would be a terrible indictment of the Hezbollah leaders. A pro-working class organization would try its utmost to avoid killing non-combatants, and would do everything possible to let the world know of that fact, in order to rally support from working class people around the world--people who in the great majority strongly oppose unnecessary killing of non-combatants and consider it morally wrong.

If, in fact, your statement is not true, then it is important to let the people of the world know it is not true so there will be as much support for Hezbollah in its fight against apartheid Israel as possible.


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