With many Lebanese civilians still hiding in their homes in refugee camps and villages in southern Lebanon, afraid to flee after hearing of convoys of evacuees being hit by Israeli airstrikes, Israeli military officials announced that they are establishing a ‘kill zone’ across many of those villages, in which anything that moves will be killed.
"We have no other option … We will have to build a new security strip, a security strip that will be a cover for our forces until international forces arrive," Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister said on Tuesday.
Peretz said Israel would maintain control of the security zone by firing at anyone who enters it. Israeli government sources estimated a zone 3-4km in width. Western diplomats briefed by Israel said it could be as wide as 5-10km in some places. Israeli officials have previously stated they plan to "push Hezbollah 20 km back from the border".
The Israeli military has a history of ‘killing zones’, particularly in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, where several kilometers full of Palestinian homes were flattened by Israeli forces over the last three years to create a ‘buffer zone’ along the Gaza-Egypt border.
Thirteen-year old Iman al-Hams was one of hundreds of Palestinian victims of the "killing zone" — in June 2004, Iman was shot while cowering behind a stone in Rafah refugee camp. The soldier who shot her had positively identified her as a child before she was shot, and then was shot multiple times to ‘confirm the kill’, according to the Israeli military transcript of the incident. The commander who gave the order to kill said, "anything that moves in this zone, even if it’s a three year old, must be shot", and was later promoted and compensated $15,000 for the incident.
As many as 80,000 residents of southern Lebanon have been unable to evacuate, local sources reported, and many are seeking refuge in local hospitals and even in Palestinian refugee camps, trying to avoid the constant Israeli bombing, particularly now that the Israeli military has promised to kill "anything that moves".
"The most difficult thing to think about is that our children could be killed. So many children have been killed already. But we are too afraid to leave", said a local woman living in Tyre, in southern Lebanon, on Tuesday.
Nearly 400 Lebanese people have been killed by Israeli attacks over the last 14 days, 90% of them civilians, over 130 of them children, according to the Lebanese government. In the same time period, 17 Israeli civilians have been killed by Hezbollah rockets into Israel, three of them children.