[The reason this article remains extremely significant is that Schiff is the leading military correspondent in Israel. The startling fact that Israel allows family visits to Hamas members who have been convicted of murder, despite the fact that Hamas does not allow the RED CROSS to visit Gilad Shalit speaks for itself. The fact that civilian structures which served the Hizbullah remain in tact speaks for itself. Formal queries in writing to representatives of the government of Israel would be in order – dsb]
One of the aims of the Lebanon war, as initially laid down by the the General Staff’s Operations Directorate, was “pressuring Hezbollah into releasing the captives.” Some Israel Defense Forces raids during the war were aimed at furthering this goal, but without success. Since the cease-fire went into effect, Israel has avoided exerting any pressure, even when the army has recommended doing so.
This was also the case following the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit and the killing of two of his comrades during a Palestinian raid into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Following the abduction, the IDF embarked on a military operation in Gaza. One method employed to pressure the Palestinians was stopping family visits to Hamas prisoners held in Israeli jails. The families complained to the Red Cross, which complained to Israel, but its representatives also met with Hamas leaders, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar in Gaza and Khaled Meshal in Damascus.
The three refused to allow the Red Cross to meet with Shalit. They also refused to allow him to send a letter to his family in Israel. Nonetheless, and contrary to the recommendation of the IDF chief of staff, the ban on family visits to Hamas prisoners was lifted. Israel responded to humanitarian concerns, but the other side refuses to do the same.
Hezbollah has been even more aggressive about not allowing any contact with the two IDF soldiers that it abducted inside Israel on July 12. Every request by the Red Cross to the group has been turned down, despite the fact that UN Resolution 1701 calls for the soldiers’ unconditional release. Israel had the option of delaying the return of refugees to villages in southern Lebanon, which is where Hezbollah established its military positions. Such a delay could have pressured Hezbollah’s leadership to agree to the basic request of a Red Cross meeting with the two prisoners.
But Israel avoided taking such a step.
A recommendation that the IDF, before withdrawing, raze all structures that housed Hezbollah military positions in southern Lebanon was also rejected.
This was the IDF’s policy in the Golan following the Six Day War and in the town of Quneitra after the Yom Kippur War. Legal experts say that destroying homes after the fighting has stopped can constitute a war crime.