Self-Refuting Article in

Top of the article: The "hiding among civilians" myth "Israel claims it's justified in bombing civilians because Hezbollah mingles with them. In fact, the militant group doesn't trust its civilians and stays as far away from them as possible."

First two paragraphs of the article: "The bombs came just as night fell, around 7 p.m. The locals knew that the 10-story apartment building had been the office, and possibly the residence, of Sheik Tawouk, the Hezbollah commander for the south, so they had moved their families out at the start of the war. The landlord had refused to rent to Hezbollah when they requested the top floors of the building. No matter, the locals said, the Hezb guys just moved in anyway in the name of the 'resistance.' Everyone knew that the building would be hit eventually. Its location in downtown Tyre, which had yet to be hit by Israeli airstrikes, was not going to protect it forever. And 'everyone' apparently included Sheik Tawouk, because he wasn't anywhere near it when it was finally hit."

Is it just me, or does the first two paragraph of this articles directly contradict its thesis? Thesis: Hezbollah does not hide behind civilians. First paragraphs: A Hezbollah commander and other "Hezb guys" force themselves into the top floors of a ten-story apartment buiding, knowing that its likely to be targeted by Israel.

There is more, albeit somewhat less egregious, evidence, later in the article, that contradicts the thesis: "The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes." If the civilians "left the area" to "Hezbollah fighters," doesn't that mean that "Hezbollah fighters" were in the area mixed with civilians before that?

Still later: "In three trips over the last week to the south, where I came near enough to the fighting to hear Israeli artillery, and not just airstrikes, I saw exactly no fighters. Guys with radios with the look of Hezbollah always found me." Umm, how exactly did they "find" the author if they weren't around to begin with? Maybe they, you know, HIDE (perhaps in plain sight in civilian clothes), until they make sure that the new visitors to town are really journalists, and not an Israeli secret service unit?

And: "A fellow journalist, a Lebanese who has covered them for two decades, knows only one military guy who will admit it, and he never talks or grants interviews. All he will say is, 'I'll be gone for a few months for training. I'll call when I'm back.' Presumably his friends and neighbors may suspect something, but no one says anything." Geez, maybe this is actually evidence that a "Hezbollah fighter" is living amongst the civilian population ("friends and neighbors").

The article makes two salient points: (1) Israel does not distinguish between the "political/humanitarian" wing of the Army of God, and its military wing, in selecting targets; and (2) that Party of God fighters are disciplined and discrete, and blend into the local population.

That's all well and good, and would make an interesting article. But instead, the author, Mitch Prothero, "debunks" the claims that Hezbollah hides among civilians, and instead provides evidence that it's true. Worse yet, Salon's editors play up a sensational angle in the headline ("The 'Hiding Among Civilians' Myth") that is actually contradicted by the text of the article. If I didn't suspect that either sympathy for the Party of God or hostility to Israel blinded the editors to the obvious, I'd be embarassed for them.

UPDATE: The obvious foolishness of this article hasn't stopped various bloggers from linking to it favorably.

UPDATE 2: On a related note, this is a pretty remarkable examination of how photos from Qana that have been sent around the world were staged (hat tip: Instapundit). This doesn't make the tragedy for the individuals involved any less, but it does suggest that photojournalists are tossing anything resembling journalistic ethics away to get a sensationalistic shot, and can reasonably be accused of serving as propaganda shills for the Party of God. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on survivors in Qana. Here's all the Times has to say about whether the Party of God was using human shields in the town:

A grocer, Hassan Faraj, stood outside his shop, near a monument to those killed in the 1996 attack. He said that Hezbollah fighters had not come to Qana, but that residents supported them strongly. There was little evidence of fighters on Sunday, but Hezbollah flags and posters of Shiite leaders trimmed the streets. "They like the resistance here," he said.

Not exactly Woodward and Bernstein. Given that it's extremely pertinent whether Israel was attacking Party of God positions or, as Human Rights Watch (which is almost cartoonishly biased agaisnt Israel, as I noticed even before I read this op-ed) alleges today, was firing indiscriminatey, you would think the Times reporter would dig a bit deeper. At least the Times might mention Israel's claim that 150 missiles were fired at Israel from Qana, and IAF footage that purports to show rockets launched by the Party of God from Qana.