It is clear to any objective observer that Hezbollah is using Lebanese civilians as human shields. It builds its headquarters in densely populated areas, embeds its fighters in towns and villages, and deliberately places missiles in private homes, even constructing additions to existing structures specifically to house missile launchers. The reason terrorist groups such as Hezbollah use human shields is elementary. They try to exploit the respect for innocent human life that is the hallmark of any civilized society to place that society in a no-win situation. If it fails to respond to terror attacks, it endangers its own citizens. If it responds, it runs the risk of killing innocents, earning world opprobrium and inviting diplomatic pressure to stand down.
Terrorists are fanatics, but they are not idiots. If the terrorist tactic of using human shields helps them achieve their goals, they will utilize it. If it undermines their goals, they will abandon it. If we want to live in a world where civilians are never used as human shields, then we must create a world in which employing such measures results in the unequivocal condemnation of terrorists and in forceful action against them by the civilized world.
If the world were now blaming Hezbollah, Syria and Iran for the innocent Lebanese killed, hurt or displaced in this conflict, then it would be sending a powerful message to every terrorist group on the planet: We will not tolerate the use of human shields. Period.
Instead, those who condemn Israel have sent precisely the opposite message. They have told every terrorist group around the world the use of human shields will pay huge dividends, thereby providing them with a powerful weapon that endangers innocents everywhere.
07 August 2006
Combatants Fighting Non-combatants