You have been warned

By Yossi Sarid
Haaretz, Aug 1, 2006

The government didn't mean it and the military didn't mean it and the pilot didn't mean it. "We didn't mean it" is a good argument, certainly, and yet not good enough. That is the last thing we need: to kill 60 civilians, including 30 children, intentionally, with malice and forethought. 

The government warned the residents of southern Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces dropped pamphlets and declared: If you don't run for your lives - you will die. "We warned" and "We warned often" make a good argument, and yet not good enough. 

"We are sorry" is also true and very nice, but it is impossible to be too sorry until all the regret is used up.
When hundreds of thousands of people are warned, and women and children are warned, of the bombs and missiles and shells that are about to land on their heads, one must consider the fact that not all of them will flee. It is not so easy to leave home - and who will save those fleeing from the dangers lying in wait along the road?
It has happened, and recently, that South Lebanon's refugees were attacked and killed on their miserable way north, and in those cases too we really didn't mean it - sorry! - and we expressed regret. 

The contemptible Hassan Nasrallah has also warned us here in northern Israel. He has launched about 2,000 warnings in the form of rockets at our address in the past 20 days, apparently expecting us to be gripped by terror and to get the hint.
Some did not understand, didn't want to or couldn't understand it: the elderly and frail and sick and poor and disabled and children with special needs and their parents couldn't. Nor could the owners of chicken coops or orchards, still desperately hoping to save the remnants of their living. Nor could all sorts of stubborn, infuriatingly obstinate people - those not interested in being refugees in their own land. 

Instead of abandoning home immediately, tens of thousands of civilians stayed at the front, from Haifa to Kiryat Shmona. Will we agree to excuse Nasrallah of his war crimes just because the farmers and the brave did not heed the call of his Katyusha? Are you kidding - excuse him? A war crime is a war crime is a war crime, and there is no crime without criminals. 

That Nasrallah doesn't feel the slightest tremor in his black heart when he essentially invites the IDF to act like him and to kill Lebanese the way he kills Israelis. He is actually interested in killing; he is interested in spilling blood, which greases the wheels of his ambition and those of his masters - preferably the blood of small children. But why are we obligated to be his collaborators? Why do what he wants and play into his hands? 

Yesterday, Nasrallah sent another warning that fell nearby. Our colleague Yuval Azoulay was not just warned, but wounded and rushed to the hospital. I wonder if Haaretz will now evacuate its reporters from the north because that scoundrel insists on it. You there at Haaretz - you have been warned. 

And as I finish writing, another Katyusha falls on Eitan's chicken coop at the edge of town. What is wrong with us? How many warnings must be sent before we get it? We don't get it, so we stay - less for our heroism and more for our simplistic principles that are afraid to unravel.
And if Nasrallah hurts us, our blood will be on his head - even though he warned us. 

Here is Qana and here we will leap out of this war - together with all the warned people, whether residents of shelters in South Lebanon or northern Israel. And we'll cry out from the depths of our hearts: Enough.