[I accidentally posted this elsewhere yesterday. Now it's where it was meant to be]
It has been a hard day in Israel, one of those days where we all unite in mourning. For better or worse, Israelis are good at that.
The swap this morning of five live Lebanese prisoners, one of them a cold blooded murderer, for the dead bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, tells you all sorts of fundamental things about Israel, but I'm not going to repeat what has been said endlessly all day long. If you didn't follow the Israeli media, there are two good summaries in the New York Times, here and here.
In the early afternoon of July 12th 2006, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah knew that all he was holding were two dead bodies. I don't know what international law has to say about such things, nor am I much a fan of international law in any case. I do know that international custom dictates rules of behaviour regarding POWs, and no-where is there even the slightest possibility of justifying Nassrallah's two-year refusal to give any indication about the conditions of his "prisoners". Even when everyone knew the two men were no longer alive, even when the agreement on the exchange had been signed, even then he and his spokesmen still did their utmost to torture the family members with hints that perhaps, just maybe, who knows...
Despicable. As are the celebrations in Lebanon this evening of the return of the hero, Samir Kuntar, whose heroism consisted of murdering a young man in front of his daughter, and then smashing her head on a rock. Worse than despicable, he and everyone who celebrated this "liberation".
But it has occurred to me this afternoon that Nassrallah's actions should have been despicable even by the weird moral standards or lack of them in his own society. As the IDF began pounding the Dahiya, the Hezbollah section of Beirut that evening of July 12th, and it was becoming clear that those crazy Israelis were going to inflict lots of pain, why didn't he call in a representative of some third party - the Turks, say, or the Norwegians - and tell them that since all he had were two dead bodies, the Israelis should call off their fury and their attempts to retrieve the two kidnapped men. He would have saved the lives of lots of Lebanese, including many hundreds of his own loyal men.
As if that was ever a consideration for him.