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An Israeli newspaper columnist actually asked whether the country should 'flatten' the whole city of Beirut

Posted by Bethan McKernan in news
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A Hezbollah supporters demonstration against the government in Beirut in December 2006 (Picture: Mustafa Khalili/Getty Images)

Haaretz, the oldest newspaper in Israel, is well known for its staunchly left-wing editorial position.

So it was something of a surprise when a column by respected Israeli-American professor Amitai Etzioni, which appeared last night, suggested that Israel should "examine the ethical and logistical consequences" of completely destroying a foreign city in order to stamp out hostile militia group Hezbollah permanently:

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Etzioni wrote about witnessing a run through of how Israel Defence Force (IDF) would plan to find and destroy the estimated thousands of missiles Hezbollah hides in civilian homes around the city, carried out in a model village called Eljakim, created by the IDF in northern Israel.

He realised there are several problems such as snipers, inadequate cover, and the Hezbollah tunnel network, which is practically impossible to clear. It just wouldn't work, the ex-Palmach and IDF member says.

On returning to the US, he asked military contacts "what other options" Israel has.

They suggested Fuel-Air Explosives (FAE), which cause massive explosions and flatten buildings over a large range.

But, umm, what about the people who live there..?

Such weapons obviously would be used only after the population was given a chance to evacuate the area. Still, as we saw in Gaza, there are going to be civilian casualties.

The international community would understand the need for such action, he says, if they were in Israel's position. Etzioni suggests inviting "foreign military experts and public intellectuals, who are not known to be hostile to Israel" to come join in the "war games" at Eljakim.

In this way, one hopes, that there be a greater understanding, if not outright acceptance, of the use of these powerful weapons, given that nothing else will do.

Right then.


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