July 25, 2006 - Jan Egeland, United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, certainly cannot be accused of being a friend of Israel. He has criticized Israel in the past and has denounced Israel's actions in Lebanon, saying that civilians are paying a "disproportionate price." But yesterday he shed some light on these civilian casualties.
Egeland accused Hezbollah of "cowardly blending" among civilians, causing a surge in civilian casualties on the Lebanese side. He stated he was appalled that Hezbollah even took pride in these civilian deaths.
In Cyprus, returning from a visit to Lebanon, Egeland said: "Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending...among women and children.... I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."
No wonder this war has been taking so long. If Israel had the same attitude towards civilians as Hezbollah, the war would have ended days ago. Hezbollah has put Israel in an untenable position: either stop trying to protect its citizens from rocket fire, or risk being accused of war crimes.
And that itself is a war crime. As previously noted, the use of civilians as human shields for combatants to hide behind is a violation of international law. But Hezbollah answers to a higher authority: a religion that glorifies death and martyrdom and that exalts hatred to a sacred virtue.
This religious vision gives Hezbollah fighters their zeal and makes them so persistent and formidable. Even a demonic faith can be a powerful motivator. To hope the reach of this global, utopian vision will not extend beyond the borders of Israel is an illusion we cannot afford.
Dan, Uri. "Hezbollah 'Cowards' to Blame for Civilian Slaughter: U.N. Big." New York Post, July 25, 2006.
Frayer, Lauren for Associated Press. "U.N.'s Egeland Denounces Israeli Strikes." ABC News, July 23, 2006.
Peace with Realism