Battlepanda: A shocking charge


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A shocking charge

Kofi Annan didn't mince words: “I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN observer post in southern Lebanon." It's a deeply serious accusation, and both John Cole and Michael Stickings have condemned Annan for raising it.

Well, given the details that have emerged, details which Annan must have known at the time, I don't think he went too far at all.
PEACEKEEPERS spent six hours begging Israeli commanders to halt multiple air bombings near a United Nations observation post before a missile killed four unarmed observers there, it emerged last night. [snip]

The bombs were falling on the heads of our guys for six hours,” a Unifil officer told The Times. “We kept telling the Israelis that our men had been lucky so far, but next time there was going to be a tragedy and could they please correct their targeting. We were begging them to stop.” [snip]

“He warned the Israelis that they were shelling in very close proximity to the post, and his warnings were very specific, explicit, detailed and stark,” said Suzanne Coogan, a spokeswoman for Willie O’Dea, the Irish Defence Minister. “Obviously those warnings went unheeded.”

She said that Unifil secured safe passage for two armoured personnel carriers, which arrived at 9.30pm and found the shelter collapsed and severe damage to the rest of the position. Despite the agreement, she said, Israel attacked the carriers.

Dermot Ahern, the Irish Foreign Minister, said that Israeli troops fired on the Egyptian UN soldiers sent to dig out the bodies. “(It) raises questions about whether this was an accident,” he said.

The facts as they are currently known is this: Israel hit a U.N. building they were repeatedly told not to hit. The probability that the Israelis up and down the chain of command are all the blameless victims of fate are vanishingly small -- it's gross negligence at the very least from somebody, somewhere. It's up to Israel to explain how this dire turn of events could have occured beyond "shit happens" and shrugged shoulders. I don't mean condolences and apologies, I mean heads rolling -- who was the liason? Who did he pass (or not pass) the U.N. message on to, and why? When the pilots squeezed the trigger, were they aware of the U.N. building in the vicinity? How high up did the knowledge that U.N. personnels are begging for their lives go?

The presumption of inncence protects the accused in our criminal-justice system. It is not Israel's perogative just because it is a U.S. ally. With the evidence looking this bad, it will have to fact serious questions, and yes, serious accusations. You can't really blame Annan for not keeping schtum until definitive evidence comes out. Sometimes, as with the Belgrade Chinese embassy bombings, the truth takes years to establish, far beyond the point where it could be of relevance in the proceedings.

Remember. Kofi Annan didn't state catagorically that it was a deliberate attack. He said, "apparently", meaning "incredible as it is, this is what the facts seem to show. Please show me that it could be otherwise and I will be much relieved." But the bottom line is, when the bluebonnets turn up dead on their turf, Israel have got to provide a satisfactory explanation. It's not reasonable that they are shielded from unpleasant charges because "not all the facts are known yet."