Times: [T]here is a sense in the world, and you must be aware of it, of lack of “proportionality”. Many people question how after two soldiers kidnapped and eight killed by Hezbollah we are now seeing upwards of 400 dead and rising in Lebanon. How can such an initial incident justify such a huge response from Israel?
Olmert: I think that you are missing a major part. The war started not only by killing eight Israeli soldiers and abducting two but by shooting Katyusha and other rockets on the northern cities of Israel on that same morning. Indiscriminately.
Now we know that for years Hezbollah – assisted by Iran – built an infrastructure of a very significant volume in the south part of Lebanon to be used against Israeli people. The most obvious, simple, way to describe it to the average British person is: can you imagine seven million British citizens sitting for 22 days in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham in Newcastle, in Brighton and in other cities? Twenty two days in shelters because a terrorist organisation was shooting rockets and missiles on their heads? What would have been the British reaction to that? Do you know of a country that would have responded to such a brutal attack on its citizens softer than Israel did? Based on my knowledge of history no country in Europe would have responded in such a restrained manner as Israel did.
I don’t want now to draw comparisons [but] one could ask the question what precisely did the European forces [do] in Kosovo 10 years ago. How many innocent civilians were killed in Kosovo 10 years ago? We can draw on and on these comparisons.
What are we talking about? More than a million Israelis are sitting 22 days in shelters because of the fear of terrorists. In every single case…that we kill an uninvolved civilian in Lebanon, we consider it as a failure for Israel. And you know how many Israelis raise their voices as a result of this? And they don’t have to because we feel that we failed when we killed uninvolved people.
The difference between us and Hezbollah is that when we kill innocent people we consider it a failure, when they kill innocent people they consider it a success.
Tell me, who are they aiming at when they shoot already 2800 rockets on Haifa, Hanariya, Akko, Sefat, Afula and the rest of the places, if not to kill innocent people? So I’m sorry for every individual that was killed that was not involved.
And by the way, how do you really know that 400 innocent civilians were killed? How do you know who is innocent and who is not? Why? This is not an army. They don’t wear uniforms that distinguish them from other civilians. We didn’t attack any of the Christian quarters of Beirut. We didn’t attack any of the Christian residential areas in any part of Lebanon. We attacked only those areas where they had the Katyusha launchers, where they had the missile launchers, where they had the command positions of Hezbollah, where they had the storage houses, the logistic centres and so on and so forth.
So the fact that people were killed there who were not dressed in uniforms doesn’t mean that they were innocent civilians. There were Hezbollah people, they are the terrorists. Did you ever see terrorists dressed with military uniforms like we have in our army? No.
Thanks to reader Michael Yore for bringing this illuminating exchange to our attention.