A furor is growing over seven Canadians killed in Lebanon by Israeli airstrikes:
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Seven Canadians from the same Montreal family, including four young children, were killed in Lebanon on Sunday when Israeli aircraft bombed a house in the south of the country, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said.
A Canadian foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed the deaths and said three people were hurt. But she said the incident happened when the house in the town of Aitaroun was shelled.
Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said Ottawa was sending ships to help evacuate up to 40,000 Canadians believed to be in Lebanon.
The CBC named the dead as Ali El-Akhras, his wife Amira and their four children aged one, four, six and eight. The seventh family member was Ali’s uncle, also named Ali, who had moved to Montreal from Lebanon 15 years ago.
At Small Dead Animals, I got into a semi-heated discussion with Kate’s staunchly pro-Israeli readership about the relatively muted conservative response to the death of Lebanese civilians. The exchange was relatively civil – not at all like the venom being spewed at the Globe and Mail. Please take a minute to read some of the comments on the G&M discussion board. Israeli expansionism will never gain favour on this blog, and I do believe that using airstrikes on suburban areas is extremely dubious; however some of the accusations being levelled at Israel and PM Stephen Harper are simply unfair. Time to address two of them:
Accusation #1: Stephen Harper supports or is indifferent to the death of Lebanese-Canadians
Some Canadians have implied that Stephen Harper’s statement “I think Israel’s response under the circumstances has been measured.” is an endorsement of civilian attacks. However this story was reported on the 14th, two days before any known Canadian casualties. Posters are attacking Harper as valuing Israeli lives over Canadian lives before he’s had the chance to react … but not before Canada pledged to send boats to help evacuate Canadians remaining in Lebanon. The < 24 hour turnaround represents a faster response to imperiled Canadians than the previous government ever offered. Harper has not made any statement since this story broke so it is premature for commenters like Jim Roth to assume his indifference.
Accusation #2: Israel intentionally targets civilians
Right or wrong, IAF airstrikes were targeting Hezbollah infrastructure rather than civilians. The Jerusalem Post has reported that the only homes directly targeted were those of senior Hezbollah officials. Other civilian deaths have been accidental (eg Israeli gunboats misfiring at relay stations for al-Manar television – a Hizbullah propaganda channel). The IDF often drops leaflets warning citizens to evacuate an area before striking a Hezbollah target, which has keep the number of civilian casualties relatively low. Concerning for the dead Canadians, Israel has formally apologized to Ottawa and is conducting an investigation. A similar investigation is being conducted for the killing of Lebanese soldiers, who are also not official IDF targets. And let’s face it – if Israel intentionally attacked civilians then far more than 140 would be dead by now.
My sincere condolences to the family members of those lost in this unfortunate attack. May the memory of the dead not be clouded by the half-truths of ulterior political motives.