Hit & Run

Hezbollah: Hiding Among Civilians?

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Salon has an interesting long piece by Mitch Prothero (you'll have to sit through an ad to see the whole thing) attempting to debunk the notion that Hezbollah's military troops are "hiding among civilians." While it will not be completely convincing to those not inclined to be convinced (or those who see no important distinction between "civilian" Hezbollah and "military" Hezbollah), here are some interesting excerpts:

My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters--as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers--avoid civilians….
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Although Israel targets apartments and offices because they are considered "Hezbollah" installations, the group has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. This is not for humanitarian reasons -- they did, after all, take over an apartment building against the protests of the landlord, knowing full well it would be bombed -- but for military ones.

"You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon," a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. "They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They're completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians -- no discipline and too much showing off."
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Hezbollah's political members say they have little or no access to the workings of the fighters. This seems to be largely true: While they obviously hear and know more than the outside world, the firewall is strong.

Israel, however, has chosen to treat the political members of Hezbollah as if they were fighters. And by targeting the civilian wing of the group, which supplies much of the humanitarian aid and social protection for the poorest people in the south, they are targeting civilians.

UPDATE: David Bernstein over at Volokh Conspiracy discusses how the Salon article, while trying to argue that Hezbollah does not have a policy of hiding among civilians, undercuts itself by reporting some specific examples of them doing exactly that.