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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NATO destroying thousands of homes. NYT applauds.

You know how when Israel destroys or damages houses in the course of war, it is considered a war crime? And groups like HRW cannot for the life of them find any justification for such behavior?

Apparently, when NATO performs wholesale destruction of civilian houses on a huge scale, it is obviously to save lives.

From the New York Times:
To Save Lives, NATO Is Razing Booby-Trapped Afghan Homes

In the newly won districts around this southern city, American forces are encountering empty homes and farm buildings left so heavily booby-trapped by Taliban insurgents that the Americans have been systematically destroying hundreds of them, according to local Afghan authorities.

The campaign, a major departure from NATO practice in past military operations, is intended to reduce civilian and military casualties by removing the threat of booby traps and denying Taliban insurgents hiding places and fighting positions, American military officials said.

While it has widespread support among Afghan officials and even some residents, and has been accompanied by an equally determined effort to hand out cash compensation to homeowners, other local people have complained that the demolitions have gone far beyond what is necessary.

...In recent weeks, using armored bulldozers, high explosives, missiles and even airstrikes, American troops have taken to destroying hundreds of them, by a conservative estimate, with some estimates running into the thousands.

“We don’t know the accurate number of homes destroyed, but it’s huge,” said Zalmai Ayubi, the spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, Tooryalai Wesa.
The Times goes on to approvingly mention that the military has to create their own roads, often bulldozing houses and farms, to avoid mines.

They even have a picture of soldiers blowing up trees to improve their line of fire.

When Israel does anything remotely like this, on a much smaller scale, the NYT first quotes sympathetic Arabs who have lost their homes, then frightening statistics about the scale of the wanton destruction, and then in paragraph 9 a statement by the IDF that the homes had explosives or were booby trapped. But here, the people who protest their homes being destroyed are the ones who get the Paragraph 9 treatment. Or, in this case, paragraphs 25 and 26, the very last paragraphs of the article:
Abdul Rahim Khan, 50, a tribal elder from Spirwan in Panjwai District, claimed that in many cases the American troops had been destroying empty homes, even when there were not any explosives inside. However, military officers pointed out, searching empty homes was often too dangerous.

“People are not happy with the compensation,” said a tribal elder in Zhare, who said he was afraid to give his name for publication. “Compensation is just kicking dirt in our eyes.”
As Meryl Yourish says, it is Israeli Double Standard Time!

(h/t Zach)