With tensions heating up in the Middle East, and Iran’s proxies and clients already involved in several shooting wars, many reckon it’s a question of when, not if, Hezbollah and Israel fight another war. With that in mind, the Israeli military briefed the The New York Times earlier this week on a series of Hezbollah moves that will put civilians at risk:
Viewed from the air, Muhaybib looks like a typical southern Lebanese village — a cluster of about 90 houses and buildings punctuated by the minaret of a mosque and surrounded by fields.
But when the Israeli military trains its lens on that hilltop Shiite village close to the border, it sees nine arms depots, five rocket-launching sites, four infantry positions, signs of three underground tunnels, three antitank positions and, in the very center of the village, a Hezbollah command post.
[…] Maps and aerial photography provided to The New York Times by Israeli military officials this week illustrate, they say, that Hezbollah has moved most of its military infrastructure into the Shiite villages of southern Lebanon and around their perimeters. Israel says this amounts to using the civilians as a human shield.
When fighting does breaks out and civilian casualties inevitably result because Hezbollah deliberately placed military structures within these villages, it is Hezbollah that should be charged with war crimes. It’s a smart move on Israel’s part to be pointing this out early, though if history is in any guide, it won’t really move the needle in how any future conflict is covered.
And war is indeed likely to come again. Hezbollah is widely acknowledged to be a proxy for Iran; earlier this year an Iranian brigadier general and top Hezbollah leaders were incinerated by an Israeli rocket when they were caught scouting rocket positions near the Golan Heights.
Israel’s enemies have decided that making sure civilians get killed in full view of Western media, rather than fighting to victory, is one of their best strategies—and they may well be right. In making a briefing this detailed, Israel is surely sacrificing intelligence advantages—something other militaries would be loathe to do. One hopes, however, that briefings like this, presented in detail and in the calm light of day, will start to sway the propaganda tide.