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July 28, 2006

Comments

You probably should have included this part:

"At the time, there had been no Hezbollah activity reported in the area," he said. "So it was quite clear they were not going after other targets; that, for whatever reason, our position was being fired upon.

"Whether or not they thought they were going after something else, we don't know. The fact was, we told them where we were. They knew where we were. The position was clearly marked, and they pounded the hell out of us."

And what, Von, is your point? That somehow the UN observers were complicit with the Hezbollah and so they must die?

Israel said they would not target the UN position and then did, killing the observers. What else is there to say? It's not like Israel expected some other set of tactics. They chose this war, this idiocy, and now they and the Lebanese are paying the pricie for their pride and arrogance.

Frankly, we should all be inured to eath and destruction by idiocy, seeing as how we have a steady diet of pride and arrogance for so long now.

Israel gets no pass on evil simply becuase Hezbollah uses proscribed tactics.

Jake

Does not absolve the IDF, given the existing line of communication with UNIFIL and given prior assurances that the UNIFIL post would not be fired upon, of killing the UNIFIL peacekeepers without at the very least requesting their evacuation.

If the artillery shell landed about six feet away without killing them either they were really dug in or it malfunctioned.

I believe it very likely that Hezbollah was operating near the UN post, and doing so on purpose -- although whether or not they were at the exact time of the strike is another question. I suspect the Israelis just bombed the zone on general principles because Hezbollah might still be there.

What is really on display here is the Israeli lack of concern about blowing up the UN outpost. It was not a mistake -- they just did not care enough to avoid it. They treat anywhere in which Hezbollah is operating as a free fire zone, and they have apologists like Dershowitz claiming that anyone in the Israeli self-declared free fire zone (i.e., all of south Lebanon at the moment) is a legitimate target, no matter who they are.

So, von, do you excuse this use of force by Israel? Anything goes in fighting Hezbollah? That seems to be the message of the pro-Israel faction.

It was not a mistake -- they just did not care enough to avoid it.

It's worse than that - armed with foreknowledge, they did not warn the peacekeepers, with whom they were in direct communication, that they were going to shell them and hence should evacuate. That's a war crime. No excuse possible.

In addition, no Muslim in the world is going to give credence to anything McKenzie says. Even as PR the above fails.

I note von Kruedener doesn't explicitly say Hezbollah was operating close to the post. This is simply MacKenzie's interpretation of a specific sentence, which could have many possible meanings.

Undoubtedly, Hezbollah has deliberately set up by UNIFIL and all sorts of civilian sites, but what motive UNIFIL would have in not explicitedly stating this was what happened at El Khiam is something someone will have to explain to me.

Further on this:

Mr. Goksel, who spent 24 years working with UNIFIL, first as a press spokesman and later as a senior adviser and trainer, also dismissed the possibility that it was Lebanon's Hezbollah militia that had placed the UN position in danger by using the area around the Khiyam observation post to fire rockets into Israel.

He said that since UNIFIL's mandate is to immediately report any cross-border military activity, firing from near Khiyam would result in Israel immediately knowing where Hezbollah was firing from.

von Kruedener's wife also seems to dispute Mackenzie's interpretation:

"That wasn't the only day they were firing on that base. My information from (her husband) is weeks upon weeks they've been firing on them.

"In my opinion, those were precision-guided missiles, then that was intentional," she said.

I read Major Hess-von Kruedener's email dispatch several days before his death, and posted about it before it was announced that he was the Canadian presumed killed by the Israeli attack on the Khiyam post of the UNTSO.

To me, the email makes abundantly clear that the UN observers, experienced military officers, knew the difference between shelling and bombing that resulted from tactical necessity, and shelling and bombing that didn't. Which makes the calls to their Israeli liaison throughout the afternoon even stronger evidence that the IDF/IAF attacks were at best brazen recklessness and at worst deliberate. The observers were clearly saying that the firing was too close, and not due to tactical necessity.

The observer post was well-marked, of long standing, and should have had its coordinates off limits to any loitering plane with authorization to take out Hezbollah attackers.

A UN spokesperson said yesterday that there was no Hezbollah firing within three miles of the post. That remains to be determined by an investigation; Khiyam is a center of Hezbollah strength. But I trust the observers' judgment and therefore put a lot of weight on their repeated calls, exactly because of Major H-vK's dispatch.

On the Stanford radio station this morning, I heard it claimed that through the UN web site one can find reports of commanders complaining that Hezbollah is using them as shields; that the UN does not officially acknowledge this; that there are photographs of (a?) UN base(s?) with the Hezbollah banner flying from the same flagpole as the UN flag.

I suspect that when (well, if) the facts come out, they will show that the UN had unwisely tolerated a Hezbollah presence within a shielding vicinity of their base; that Israel was responding to attacks from that vicinity; that due to a failure in communications or a mistake (culpable or otherwise) in procedure Israel unintentionally destroyed the UN base. Why the UN people didn't flee in the periods between volleys, and why Israel (which has a clear incentive to avoid such a symbolic target) failed to provide them with a break in firing to take safe passage out, is entirely unclear to me. I suspect the main responsibility in this incident is Hezbollah's, though Israel and the UN leadership will come in for some part of the blame.

rf, I agree with so much of what you say. But in the end, the shooter must take responsibility for his actions - ALWAYS. There may be overarching reasons (lesser evils) but you cannot shift responsibility to someone who was not the shooter.

Jake

Jake, I don't think we disagree at all then, unless you're saying there's no responsibility in arranging a situation you know is likely to lead to bad consequences, or watching such a situation arise and not take any action. I can't imagine the UN people at the post did anything wrong, and I suspect some officers in the Israeli chain of command will at the least get cashiered. If the disagreement is about "main" in my comment above, I'll defer to the Geneva convention experts here - I thought that if Israel was pursuing a legitimate military goal then it was Hezbollah's responsibility not to hide among civiilians and in that case civilian casualties went on the latter's ledger.

Rilkefan,

Some links might help clear up your perplexity. Please note that these guys are not required to eject either the IDF or Hezbollah. All they can do is report their presence. The IDF isn’t suggesting that the UN observers were negligent in any respect. The UN says that Hezbollah was in the neighbourhood and close to other UN personnel, but not very close to the base that got hit.

UPI

Jane Lute, U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said in a briefing to the Security Council that the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon contacted the Israeli Defense Forces to protest each of the firings to no avail.
Eight hours after the shelling began, a rescue operation was deployed, during which firing continued despite repeated requests for abatement.

Globe and Mail

Mr. Goksel said that while UNIFIL had good relations with senior Israeli officials, who saw the international force as providing a "free service" by monitoring Hezbollah activities, that respect didn't filter down the ranks. "The young soldiers on the ground don't know the politics, they don't know that their commanders like dealing with us. They just think, 'Who gives a damn? I will not be asked to account for what I did.' "

Mercury

Brig. Gen. Shuki Shahar, the deputy chief of the military's Northern Command, said soldiers in the field had accidentally called in the coordinates of the U.N. base and that the airstrike had been approved up the chain of command.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had suggested Tuesday that the military had targeted the outpost deliberately. Israeli leaders rejected that allegation, but Shahar's initial findings indicate that the military did strike the base deliberately, even if it wasn't an intentional attempt to kill peacekeepers.
Israeli fire has hit U.N. observation posts in southern Lebanon at least 10 times. The day before the fatal attack, Israeli shelling wounded four Ghanaian soldiers with the U.N. force, said Farhan Haq, an Annan representative. Earlier, another U.N. observer was missing and presumed dead after Israeli shells struck an observation post in the village of Hosh.

Guerilla wars are rarely fought with the Geneva conventions in mind. Bush, for example, believes that because the Iraqi insurgency is not bound by the conventions, neither are we - a position with which I strongly disagree - so when fighting insurgencies or militias, I think the state bears a HIGHER burden, not a lesser one, at least of you are truly a modern liberal democracy.

Then there is the legitimate military goal thing. I think that is very much in question, and confusion regarding the answer is exacerbated by the kinds of actions at issue here.

If the only proven method of fighting an insurgency is genocide, and the state in question eschews genocide, I don't think they get a bye for other lesser crimes against the civilians and bystanders.

Jake

Here is a brief guide to the various UN operations on the Lebanese border.

I'm a little ticked at the uninformed commentary by the usual suspects on this one. UNTSO has had UNMOs (UN military observers) on the Israeli borders since 1948, through four hot wars and all kinds of border incidents. It'd have been negligent for them to leave now when the UN desperately needs independent confirmation of what's going on. Whether *UNIFIL* should pull out now is an open question, but even if they had, UNTSO would have undoubtedly stayed on, getting as close to the action as was safe. Their "base" is one bunker, with only the four guys in it, marked with UN flags and logos, and any support from UNIFIL some distance away: it would have been strong enough to resist anything but a direct hit, which unfortunately is what they got. If Hezbollah or the IDF had parked on that particular hill, they had no authority to boot them off, just to smile and wave, then count the tanks, rockets, etc. and provide detailed intelligence to the UN military organization. With UNMOs, near-tragic accidents like this happen all the time... this one was probably just bad luck and/or a Kandahar-bombing style pilot "error." It's dangerous work, and those who take it on know they are assuming a higher measure of risk in doing so.

The other comment worth making re the wisdom of UNIFIL's (not UNTSO's) continued presence is that if they *had* evacuated their fully loaded field hospital and 2,000 soldiers in APCs right now, when the local Lebanese most desperately need them to get to safety, the same usual suspects would be laughing at the UN for cutting and running, no? Even if the mission is lost, it's still a soldier's responsibility to minimize the scope of that defeat, and that seems to be what they're doing, to their eternal credit.


"this one was probably just bad luck"

Sorry, didn't you say in the other thread that people who thought this was unintentional weren't paying attention?

I think a writer who qualifies “bad luck” with “and/or a Kandahar-bombing style pilot ‘error’” probably views the matter very much as I do. The reference is presumably to this incident:

Two U.S. F-16 fighter pilots have been charged with manslaughter and assault in the April "friendly fire" bombing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan that killed four soldiers and injured eight, the Air Force said on Friday.

The highly unusual criminal charges by the Air Force against Illinois Air National Guard pilots Maj. Harry Schmidt and Maj. William Umbach followed a long investigation of the April 18 bombing.

Schmidt, who launched a 500-pound (227 kg) laser-guided bomb on Canadian troops conducting a night live fire exercise near the Kandahar airport, and flight leader Umbach each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter and eight counts of assault.

Schmidt was also charged with failing to exercise appropriate flight discipline and not complying with the military "rules of engagement" in the area. Umbach was also charged with negligently failing to exercise appropriate flight command and control and ensure compliance with the rules of engagement

In what dialect of English, or in what legal system, does an unintentional act result in a manslaughter charge? Mind you, if any Israelis are charged with manslaughter then I suppose I’ll have to revise my present view, which is pretty much in line with that of Mr Goksel.

Here is the full text of the email from Major Hess-von Kruedener, without ellipses or interpretation.

What I don't know about these matters would fill a football stadium, but it does seem to me that this presents a more complete picture (of the situation a week before the fatal bombing), in his own words, than the article cited in the post does.

I'm speaking a dialect of English where "and/or" means "either exclusively or non-exclusively", and where people are careful about not calling things that happen by bad luck "intentional", but as usual YMMV. You seem to have your mind made up already, but I would suggest waiting for further data before reaching conclusions.

If this is true, then things may turn out well:

possible ceasefire with Hezbollah disarming

If it IS true, then from a distance, the sacrifices may have been worth it.

Jake

Thanks for the link, Jake.

That sounds like capitulation to me - a total triumph to Israel if enforced - why would Hezbollah agree to that?

Kevin: it is precisely an unintentional act that leads to a manslaughter charge.

For example:

a. You buy a sniper's gun, lie in wait and assassinate your neighbor. Murder with special circumstances / death penalty.

b. You're in a bar and the guy doesn't like your tone. You agree to take it outside whereupon in the fight you kill him. Standard murder / 25 - to - life.

c. You're driving 70 mph in a school zone when a kid runs in front of the car, is struck and killed. Vehicular Manslaughter / 5 to 15 years.

(The range of sentences is essentially made up.)

You intended to operate your car unsafely given the circumstances. Even though you did not intend to kill the child, you are charged with manslaughter because the natural and predictable consequence of your conduct was the kid's death.

Rilkefan,

You brought the word "intentional" into it. What I wrote was: Anyone who believes the attack on the UN peacekeepers was an honest mistake simply doesn't know the score and probably doesn't want to.

I believe the history of IDF strikes on UN positions supports that view. To be clear, I don't consider a mistake to be honest if the guy who made it wouldn't have done so if there was an Israeli unit at that location. I'm sure the IDF suffers friendly fire incidents now and then, but on a post which was there for decades? With a large blue star of David on a white roof and numerous messages warning of the problem? Let me know if you find a case like that.

As for "waiting for further data before reaching conclusions", I'm open to new evidence. Like I said, if anyone is charged with a serious offence I will certainly give the Israelis marks for that.

Francis,

You intended to operate your car unsafely given the circumstances.

That's what I mean by intentional. But as noted above, I didn't introduce the word to the discussion.

Well, everyone in Israel knows that the UN is nothing but an international anti-Semitic conspiracy, so what's the big deal.

Besides, the IDF chief of staff did warn everyone that "nothing is safe", so they have no reason to complain.

"As for "waiting for further data before reaching conclusions", I'm open to new evidence. Like I said, if anyone is charged with a serious offence I will certainly give the Israelis marks for that."

It would be more convincing if you explicitly retracted your "honest mistake" assertion.

Rilkefan,

It would be more convincing if you explicitly retracted your "honest mistake" assertion.

On what grounds? Seriously, I do not believe it was an honest mistake. I do not believe that anybody who has paid attention to the losses suffered by UN personnel in South Lebanon since they first arrived could reasonably conclude that it was an honest mistake. I do not see you advancing any argument, but when I look upthread I see that you were advancing theories about the guys who died which nobody who understood their mission could possibly entertain. (My links were intended to educate you in that regard. Don't mention it. Oh, I see you haven't. Right.)

So what's your point?

"I do not believe it was an honest mistake."

Irrelevant.

The point is you might come to discover new evidence which you find contraverts your view, or you might come to discover you've misweighed the current evidence. I happen to find your argument and evidence lacking, but I haven't said you aren't paying attention or arguing in bad faith. I think you're reaching conclusions based on insufficient data and logic and somewhat rudely attacking those who disagree with you, and I suggest you keep an open mind - that's the point.

FTR, I fully endorse Rilkefan's view. Those who have already judged Israel's intent (either way) provide only a glimpse into their own preconceived notions and prejudices. It is simply too early to tell, and far too early to use the reckless language of Annan -- puportedly, a diplomat. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; very little ordinary evidence has been adduced thus far.

[Brig. Gen. Shuki Shahar] said soldiers in the field had accidentally called in the coordinates of the U.N. base and that the airstrike had been approved up the chain of command.

How could that possibly happen? The post has been there for 25 years. From Maj. H-vK's July 18 email:

The patrol base was initially an observation post and was built in 1972, but was later destroyed in 1976 during the fighting between the PLO and the South Lebanese Army (SLA). In 1978 it was rebuilt again and manned by elements of the Norwegian Battalion serving with UNIFIL. In 1980, Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) assumed responsibility for it.


The Observer Group Lebanon of the UN Truce Supervision Org. deployment is of long standing. Their coordinates have been known to the Israeli military functionally forever, and have not changed.

How could it happen that the IDF/IAF would not check coordinates against a (presumably short list) of do-not-target locations?

If the Israelis have made a decision to treat the whole area ten miles out from the border as a free fire zone, then they have an obligation to say so. They are fundamentally responsible for the observers' deaths and the destruction of the post. They have far more responsibility for this crime than any other party to the conflict (or resident of the zone of conflict).

It's a crime of massive and reckless indifference/negligence. At best.

How could that possibly happen?

During fighting in Afghanistan, a U.S. Special Forces team called in an airstrike on itself. Their FAC confused the grid location of the target with his own grid location and called in the airstrike on his position. Combat is inherently chaotic and confusing. It is quite possible that the fatal airstrike was inadvertent.

In what dialect of English, or in what legal system, does an unintentional act result in a manslaughter charge?

The law uses the terms "reckless indifference" or similar verbage to describe the level of intent for manslaughter. Obviously, firing the weapon was intentional (unless it fired accidently, which would be a defense asuming that appropriate care was exercised to prevent an accidental discharge). Having it kill the wrong person was not intended, but recklessness in firing at someone who turns out to be innocent constitutes the necessary "intention" for manslaughter. There are many other variations on the theme. The point is to parse the word "intentional" -- intention to fire the weapoon, but being reckless in doing so such that the wrong person is hit, versus the specific intent to wrongfully kill someone. Two different levels of intent; one is manslaughter and the other is murder.

There is a lower version of homicide sometimes referred to as negligent homicide, which is proved with a lesser degree of neglect (negligence versus reclessness).

rilkefan: I think you're reaching conclusions based on insufficient data and logic

r, have you read the links Kevin provided? Have you read the full email from Maj. H-v-K?

Have you come up with any links to support your "heard on the radio there's something on the web" about Hezbollah flags and UN flags flying together? I have insufficient data to believe that, and much data to make me think such a thing is would never happen.

Take in the information you have been offered. Provide more yourself. And ask yourself if you haven't come into the discussion with a rather strong desire to believe someone other than the Israeli military responsible.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; very little ordinary evidence has been adduced thus far.

You should update your post to reflect this, then. As it stands now, it appears you endorse the idea Hezbollah did have a position very close to the UN station.

During fighting in Afghanistan, a U.S. Special Forces team called in an airstrike on itself. Their FAC confused the grid location of the target with his own grid location and called in the airstrike on his position.

So did the airstrike happen? Didn't any screen show the calling-in coordinates and the target coordinates together, causing someone along the way to say, "Uh, guys...."?

What is a FAC, Andrew?

FAC: Forward Air Control

The airstrike did happen, and I believe a few operators were killed and others wounded, although I do not have a cite handy. There is no screen that shows both the target coordinates and the location of the caller. When you call for an air strike, you provide the coordinates of the target you want to hit and a description of the target. The plane does the rest.

A FAC is a Forward Air Controller, a guy with the proper equipment to communicate with the aircraft directly. The FAC is responsible for coordinating all air support.

Von, I don't see what is at all 'extraordinary' about Annan's 'claims.' The UN post was deliberately -- even if mistakenly -- targeted. It's not a stray or defective bomb that was intended and progammed to hit some other target. It was aimed at the target that it hit. Let's look at the other statements you quote:

(a) The target was well marked;

(b) The UN staff was in touch with Israeli officials; and

(c) Olmert gave personal assurances that UN facilities would not be targeted.

It's not apparent to me that these are even contested.

All that's in issue is whether the Israeli armed forces meant to hit a UN facility -- and arguments to the effect that hitting this UN facility was justified (and that's surely the purpose for which you quote the e-mail) don't make one lean against thinking maybe they did mean to hit it.

I don't know the answer, of course, and don't expect ever to know.

There is no screen that shows both the target coordinates and the location of the caller.

That sounds to me like a handy feature to have, both for preventing incidents like the one you mention (which would be quite rare) and for accountability later.

I also thought these planes were pretty fancy, computerized deals. It's not possible to enter a series of coordinates that would render some strikes off-limits (or require highter-ups to approve and override)?

In the Afghanistan case, how many layers of decision /chain of command between the Special Forces and the FAC?

Gen. Shakar's reference to 'passed up the chain of command' makes me wonder how many opportunities existed to check or realize that the called-for coordinates were off-limits.

you provide the coordinates of the target you want to hit and a description of the target. The plane does the rest.

It would seem useful to any investigation to have the Israeli FAC's description of the target.

For what it's worth: for the reasons CharleyCarp mentions, and others, I think it had to be either deliberate or a horrible screwup involving coordinates (in which case I think it would be wrong to say that the UN post was intentionally hit. Those coordinates were targeted, but the crucial question would be: were they targeted because they were the coordinates of the UN post, or by mistake?)

For Andrew's reasons, I am holding back on saying it was deliberate.

But whereas when I first heard the news reports I thought that Kofi Annan had been uncharacteristically irresponsible* in claiming that it seemed to be deliberate, when I understood that the shelling had been going on all day, and that the UN had been on the phone all day telling them the coordinates, I understood why he said it.

* (Note to people who don't like Kofi Annan: whatever his besetting sins might be, wild and undiplomatic remarks surely are not at the top of the list.)

That sounds to me like a handy feature to have, both for preventing incidents like the one you mention (which would be quite rare) and for accountability later.

Yes it would. It would also cost beaucoup dollars, and while the defense budget is very large it's not infinite by any stretch. There are many things that would be useful to have, but there's only so many things we can afford. Budgeting is about choices, and while the system you describe would be handy, the fact is we've been calling for air support for ~60 years now without it, so there probably wasn't much call to come up with a new way.

A commenter at Kevin Drum's who evinced some military knowledge made much of how hard to impossible it would be for the Israeli liaison who took the UN observer groups' calls to reaching the unit doing the firing.

The fact that the liaison promised repeatedly to see the firing stopped makes me doubt this as an explanation; why promise something you cannot deliver? If the liaison had made an honest effort, and there were difficulties, shouldn't s/he have brought them up in Call #6 or #7?

Is it likely that there are records/transcripts of those calls?

I have no way of knowing how easy or difficult it would be for the Israeli liaison to reach the actual firing unit, so I can't provide any assessment of that argument.

Which is true of all of this. We can't know if this was an intentional strike on the UN post, an accidental strike on the UN post, or an attempt to hit Hezbollah that also (or instead) hit the UN post. I will neither defend nor attack Israel on this matter because I don't know what happened to a degree sufficient for me to form an informed opinion.

I will neither defend nor attack Israel on this matter because I don't know what happened to a degree sufficient for me to form an informed opinion.

Pffft. And you call yourself a blogger?

Their FAC confused the grid location of the target with his own grid location and called in the airstrike on his position.

The story I heard on this was that the GPS being used by the FAC had its batteries replaced, which caused it to reset the target location to its current location, and the FAC did not realize this in ordering the airstrike on his own position.

I will neither defend nor attack Israel on this matter because I don't know what happened to a degree sufficient for me to form an informed opinion.

And you never will since the Israelis control the information, and I have no faith that they will be forthcoming if the details are embarrassing. The Israelis have no track record of honesty in such matters. Remember the USS Liberty.

dmbeaster: The story I heard on this was that the GPS being used by the FAC had its batteries replaced, which caused it to reset the target location to its current location, and the FAC did not realize this in ordering the airstrike on his own position.

I heard the same story: it came up in a technical discussion on a list I was on. (We were discussing examples of how bad design decisions are made: there ought to have been some mechanism - a warning light would have done - which signalled when the target coordinates were the unit's own position.)

The other reason I remember the incident is because 3 US soldiers were killed, the first American casualties in Afghanistan, and 8 Afghan soldiers. In all the accounts of the incident I read in the American press at the time, no reference whatsoever was made to the 8 Afghan casualties - there was nothing to indicate in the accounts that 11 men had died, not 3.

Rilkefan is doing what Rilkefan does, in my experience: making stuff up that makes it possible for him to believe what he wants to believe, and then arguing that because it's "conceivable" it happened the way he wants to believe it did, we can't argue that it didn't, even though the evidence is stuff he made up himself.

Which is to say: the Israeli airstrike on a UN post that had been there for 25 years was obviously a war crime - only someone determined to exempt Israel on any excuse would argue that it wasn't. It's an utterly different situation from a moving group of mixed Northern Alliance/US soldiers who didn't know themselves exactly where they were, and who were effectively killed by bad design in their own equipment.

Ah, yes, and this is quite typical:

- Israel and the US should be given every possible and impossible benefit of the doubt, every obvious lie they circulate assumed true until proven otherwise (and then it'll be an "old story"), their intentions honorable by default.

- when it comes to the official enemies of the people (of whom Mr. Annan is one these days), every accusation by rumor, innuendo and plain bullshit should be immediately accepted as fact. They are by default corrupt, evil, lying bastards.

It's a convenient model.

The UN post has been there, known to all parties, clearly recognizable, for 25 years.

The UN observers in the post have called the IDF *8* times, and were promissed that the shooting would stop *8* times.

After that the UN contacted Olmert, who promissed that the shooting would stop.

Von,

Be assured that I do indeed have certain prejudices and preconceived notions. Smoking causes cancer, drinking and driving leads to accidents, young men are more likely to engage in violent crime than women or older men. These are what we call empirical regularities.

As for judging “Israel’s intent”, I haven’t the foggiest idea what you mean by that expression. Perhaps you think I had visions of the President signing a secret death warrant for the UN observers at the request of the Prime Minister. If so, no, I’m really very certain that didn’t happen. Nor was this an expression of some General Will of the Israeli people. But it wasn’t an honest mistake.

Of course that is not to say that in this case any particular individual is guilty of murder or manslaughter. In the event that anyone is charged, I will be (a) very surprised and (b) quite adamant that the trial should be fair. But I don’t need to wait for that to say that the IDF, as an institution, has form; and it has acted true to form.

For those who insist that it is too soon to say whether this was an honest mistake, I have a question. In 1996, during the “Grapes of Wrath” operation the IDF shelled a UN compound in Lebanon, killing a number of people. If this is news to you, don’t bother answering my question. If you recall the incident, my question is this: was it an accident, a mistake, a crime, or is it too soon to say?

Okay, I’ll take that as a Yes.

The IDF blames the maps for the Khiam killings.

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