Just before this war began, a leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria remarked publicly that they would seek to develop a rocket capability that would be used from this territory against Israeli cities. I pointed out that this was a significant red line and then proposed that what Alan Dershowitz had proposed once would be a tactic worth pursuing. Namely, he suggested that Israel provide ongoing warnings that if it is attacked, it would move into the area and methodically destroy the village from which the attack came.
It occurs to me that this strategy should be applied with Lebanon. One of the key problems the IDF encountered in this war was the presence of Lebanese civilians in its attacks. They pose an ethical dilemma on the one hand and a tactical, perhaps even strategic fighting dilemma on the other. If you attack, you risk killing innocents which is immoral, but if you don’t attack the enemy tries to kill your civilians which is immoral for them but also doubly immoral for Israel since they could have prevented those deaths by fighting differently.
If the current government of Israel states publicly, in a consistent pattern and ensuring the message arrives in South Lebanon, that it will methodically destroy the villages of S. Lebanon from which attacks emanate or from which Hizbullah members originate, I believe the likelihood of any civilians staying behind will diminish greatly. This would open the door for proper and open fighting between the two armies.
This will also eliminate the moral equation for Israel since they will have provided ample warning of their intentions and the resulting war will be upon the heads of its initiators, Hizbullah, rather than on Israel. The blame of any destruction will also fall on Hizbullah. It has in this war as well, but at an early point, opinion in Lebanon and the world turned against Israel because it did cause severe destruction in some areas. In the scenario where they are warned consistently, it will be very difficult for them to claim they didn’t anticipate the vigorous Israeli response – which is what Hizbullah leaders are saying now.
As a result of this war, many people equivocate that Israel was not careful enough, should have avoided any attacks on civilian targets even if they had a connection to military operations, and foisted unnecessary destruction on Lebanon. If the Israelis proceed with a policy of openly and consistently warning of the consequences of future attacks, objections to its fighting method will decrease. I also believe civilian casualties will decrease considerably because there will be no doubt on anybody’s part as to what is about to happen and most civilians will leave these areas. There would be little dispute as to what is about to happen and why, and this will free Israel’s hands to fight as they need to fight.
I know, I know, it’s not the Middle, but I see few other solutions to the issue of how to fight an enemy that uses civilians as another weapon in its arsenal.