Posted by: sean | July 24, 2006

A "continuum of civilianality"

Alan Dershiwitz has a disgusting piece in the Los Angeles Times in which he argues that many of the civilians in Lebanon and Palestine are getting what they deserve. He argues for a “continuum of civilianality,” which would make many civilians fair game for Israeli strikes:

The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit. Some — those who cannot leave on their own — should be counted among the innocent victims.

Why would people stay in the areas being bombarded by the Israelis? Many have no place to go; in the south, most of the bridges have been destroyed, trapping many families in their towns; and since Israel has been bombing civilian convoys, many are afraid to leave. And for good reason:

On Sunday [the Shaito family] gave up their stand, and all 18 members crammed into the family’s white Mazda minivan. They planned to head north toward the relative safety of Beirut.

Within minutes they became casualties of Israel’s 12-day-old bombardment of southern Lebanon, which the Israelis say they will continue indefinitely to destroy the military abilities of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group. By the Lebanese official count, Israel’s attacks have killed more than 380 Lebanese.

An Israeli rocket, which Lebanese officials said was likely fired from a helicopter, slammed into the center of the Shaitos’ van as it sped round a bend a few miles west of their village, and the van crashed into a hillside. Three occupants were killed: an uncle, Mohammad; the grandmother, Nazira; and a Syrian man who had guarded their home. The missile also critically wounded Mrs. Shaito and her sister. Eleven others suffered less severe wounds.

“They said leave, and that’s what we did,” said Musbah Shaito, another uncle, as his niece, Heba, 16, cried hysterically behind him for her dead father, whose head was nearly blown off. This reporter watched as paramedics struggled to remove the dead from the van, but soon gave up, as an Israeli drone hovered overhead.

“This is what we got for listening to them,” Mr. Shaito said, speaking of the Israelis.

This is what Mr Dershowitz’s cold calculus means in human terms. That same day, Israel reported that they had hit “approximately 20 vehicles” suspected of “serving the terror organization in the launching of missiles at Israel, and were recognized fleeing from or staying at missile-launching areas.”

Read that again. These vehicles were either fleeing or staying, so they were hit. These civilians were obviously “complicit,” according to Alan Dershiwitz.

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