Sunday, March 02, 2008

Israel Prepared to Target Civilian Areas

This from Haaretz:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet Monday with legal experts in the military and government to examine whether the Israel Defense Forces can legally target populated areas from which Qassam rockets are being fired at the western Negev.

Barak asked Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann at Sunday to determine the legality of these attacks. The defense minister will discuss the issue Monday with Friedmann, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Military Prosecutor Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit, the Defense Ministry's legal adviser and various elements from within the Foreign Ministry.

During Sunday's cabinet meeting, Vice Premier Haim Ramon asked why the IDF was not directing massive fire at the areas from which Qassams are being launched.

"According to international law, you can do that," he said. "In the Second Lebanon War it was clear that if they shoot from within a village, we can fire on them even if the area is populated."

This comes hot on the heels of the deputy defence minister suggested that continued attacks from Gaza would lead to a "Holocaust". Clearly, Israel intends to step up its attacks on Gaza and consequently there will be a massive rise in civilian casualties. The fact that they are prepared to argue that bombing a civilian area is entirely justified is deeply troubling to say the least. There is no justification for bombing civilian areas, unless one intends on wiping out the civilian population. For the Israeli government, ethnic cleansing appears to be the only viable option. The question is, does the Israeli government really believe that this will calm tensions across the region? Because it most certainly will not. If it is an attempt to provoke Iran and thus bring about the military action that is so dearly desired in Downing Street and the White House, it might well succeed.