Sunday was a day of great triumph for Hezbollah. Its tactics had worked. By launching rockets at Israeli civilians within yards of a building filled with refugees, Hezbollah had induced Israel to make a terrible mistake. Its defensive rocket had missed the Hezbollah launchers and hit the civilian building. That was Hezbollah's plan all along. As Israelis wept in grief over the deaths of the Lebanese children, Hezbollah leaders celebrated its propaganda victory.
Yes, Hezbollah was happy that an Israeli rocket had killed Lebanese children. The children were now in paradise, martyrs to Hezbollah's cause. Israel was being condemned throughout the world for "killing" children--"massacre" was the most common word used in the Arab media. The Israelis apologized, but that was not enough to put out the flames of anger or to quiet the shrill calls for revenge.
Israel produced evidence proving that it was largely Hezbollah's fault. Hezbollah was using Lebanese children as involuntary human shields--surely a war crime. Hezbollah was preventing civilians--who had been repeatedly warned by Israel to leave the battle zone--from moving out of harm's way. Hezbollah sympathizers were shown on TV defiantly tearing up the Israeli leaflets, as if to say "we're staying" Hezbollah had refused to build bomb shelters for ordinary civilians--only for their own leaders. Hezbollah knew (and Israel didn't) that children were in the so-called safe house. That is why it deliberately used the safe house as a shield behind which to five rockets at Israel. Hezbollah used its rocket launchers as "bait" to induce Israel to fire at them in order to increase the chances that Israel's rocket would misfire and hit the "safe house". It was a perfect plan. Leaders of Hezbollah knew it could count on the international community to finish its dirty work by condemning Israel, rather than Hezbollah for the deaths caused deliberately by Hezbollah.
Israel has, of course, rightly apologized for the deaths caused by its rocket. Hezbollah never apologizes for deliberately causing civilian deaths, except when the deaths are of Arab children, as was the case in Nazareth.
When it comes to Israel, a lot of usually smart people stop thinking with their heads, and start thinking with their guts. Most smart people know that when an armed criminal takes a hostage and fires from behind him, it is the criminal, not the policeman, who is guilty of murder, if the policeman, in a reasonable effort to stop the criminal from firing, accidentally kills the innocent hostage. The same should be true during wartime. But you wouldn't know it if you listened only to the singular condemnations of Israel by so many in the international community.
But not all. Just days before this Hezbollah orchestrated tragedy, Jan Egeland, the UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, had essential predicted it. He chided Hezbollah for being "a bunch of cowards hiding behind women and children." He said that he "cannot understand how someone could be proud that there were more women and children hurt than armed militants." And he "call[ed] for the Hezbollah to immediately stop mixing with the civilian population." But Hezbollah did not listen to Egeland. Instead they fired their Katyusha from behind the apartment in Qana knowing that it was filled with civilians.
The President of Lebanon praised Hezbollah. For what? For using its children as shields? When was the last time a leader thanked the criminal for taking a hostage who was then killed in the shootout? The Arab world, the Islamic world and the rest of the Israel-haters have now rallied behind Hezbollah. Hatred of Israel has even managed to heal the millennium long divisions between Shias and Sunnis.
Every day more Arabs and the Muslims kill other Arabs and Muslims in the Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world than the Israelis have killed in three weeks of combat. But the international community--and the Arab world--turns a blind eye. Indeed, in the Sudan, where thousands have died, many Arab governments actually support the Sudanese government and its genocidal policies. Even "peaceful" nations, such as Egypt and Jordan, have killed more Muslim and Arab dissidents, extremists, and terrorists than Israel has--and without much protest.
The real victory for Hezbollah is that it has caused grief and dissent in Israel over the death of the children. This will cause Israel to show more "restraint", as it has already done by declaring a 48 hour cessation of air attacks. This will give the terrorists a freer hand at launching rockets. The end result will be more Israel civilian casualties. The sad truth is that the Israelis care more about the lives of innocent Lebanese children than Hezbollah does. As Golda Meir once said about her Arab enemies: "We can perhaps forgive them for killing our children, but we can never forgive them for making us kill their children." How prescient.