Israel’s assassination last week of Salah Shehadeh, the Hamas military leader responsible for the wanton murder of scores of Israeli men, women, and childen, has met with almost universal condemnation because of the Palestinian civilians (numbering about 10) who were killed in the attack. The assassination was accomplished by means of a single one-ton bomb launched by the Israeli Air Force. Not even Israelis publicly defend the operation, at least so far as I can find.
The excellent Israeli daily newpaper Haaretz carries a story today giving some details of the area in which the bomb was detonated. The story takes pains to rebut Air Force accounts of the area as one in which civilians lived in shacks; the story quibbles with the characterization of the dwellings as shacks and instead suggests that the proper characterization of them is flats. The story nevertheless makes clear that the bomb was spot-on target; Shehadeh was apparently incincerated by it. Haaretz columnist Ze’ev Schiff also criticizes the operation in the same edition of the paper.
Keep in mind that Shehadeh was the mastermind of several cold-blooded bombings of totally innocent Israeli civilians in the course of the war he and others are waging against Israel. I am mystified by the unananimity of the scorn that Israel’s operation has met with. I would hope that if the United States has the opportunity to conduct a similar operation against Osama bin Laden that it would not be inhibited by his use of civilians as shields, the conscious Palestinian tactic that had kept Shehadeh alive until last week. Former Army officer Ralph Peters is one of the few commentators to have defended the Israeli operation, and he did so eloquently in the pages of the Wall Street Journal this past Thursday. I think Peters has it right.
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