Civilian Deaths in Lebanon: Good Story, Lousy Headline

Thursday's front-page story from Sabrina Tavernise, "Civilians Lose As Fighters Slip Into Fog of War - Lebanese Deaths Show Dilemma for Israel," is a belated acknowledgement by the Times that yes, Hezbollah is ensconcedamong the civilian population of Lebanon.

"Civilian deaths illustrate the raw dilemma of modern warfare, in which a conventional army fights an elusive militia that loads its rocket launchers in family gardens, orchards and on village streets. In Lebanon, the result has been desperate efforts to flee and military miscalculations in the fog of war."


"Hezbollah is woven tightly into the lives of much of the Shiite population in southern Lebanon. Aside from its militia, it helps administer hospitals and schools, an important service in Lebanon, where the central government is weak.

In many southern towns, such as Bint Jbail, the scene of much of the fighting in this war, Hezbollah is essentially in control. In the south, Hezbollah uses its standing to wage war on Israel, launching missiles from neighborhoods friendly to it and storing weapons in buildings such as hospitals and mosques."

Good for the Times for finally acknowledging in a front-page story that Hezbollah fighters are mixing with civilians. Yet the headline tries to muck it up with "...slip into fog of war" when "...slip into civilian populace" would have been accurate. "Fog of war" serves as a cue for readers to throw up their hands and say "War is hell" without appreciating the fact that Hezbollah is using loathsome tactics (hiding within their own civilian populations while targeting Israel's) that the other side isn't.