Paul Greenberg

Even if there were an occasional raid into Israel, and then a pro forma response from across the border, it would end there. It was assumed the Israelis would just go on and take it as they've always taken it. That was the gentleman's agreement, wasn't it? And now this . . . .

Hezbollah has been firing a hundred rockets a day at northern Israel. It embeds its rocket launchers within Lebanon's civilian population, close to schools, mosques, houses, markets and apartment buildings. And terrible things happen. Because, despite the leaflets dropped by Israelis urging people to leave southern Lebanon, many families inevitably chose to stay - or are unable to get out on roads under attack. Destruction rains from the air and it doesn't strike only military targets.

In the latest and worst incident, scores of innocent people, including women and children, perished when Israeli missiles struck an apartment building at Qana in southern Lebanon not far from Tyre - all within Hezbollah's rocket-launching belt. According to the Israeli military, the target was Hezbollah launchers only a couple of hundred meters from the apartment building, and the Israelis had no indication the building was occupied. None of which makes the spilling of innocent blood easier to accept. And now even a theoretical truce in the air war has broken down.

The U.N.'s Security Council, which did nothing to stop Hezbollah's depredations for years, met in emergency session, and eloquent speeches were made about the innocent victims of this latest calamity - as if Hezbollah's presence in Lebanon had nothing to do with it. Particularly impressive was the air of injured innocence and moral outrage assumed by the distinguished delegate from Lebanon. It was the kind of performance the practiced accomplices of terrorism have perfected by now.

One has to wonder: Can it be that Lebanon's leaders thought their policies would cause the deaths only of Israeli innocents?

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.