The photos of Israeli children writing messages on shells destined for Lebanon provoked a flood of condemnation. It is great, however, that at least the children are not yet brainwashed. They know the enemy, and they hate him. They feel no compassion for the Lebanese. And why should they? The Lebanese willingly host Hezbollah and cheer its attacks on Israel.

The Americans, Russians, and British who bombed Germany during World War II made no attempt to distinguish between soldiers and non-combatants, between Nazis and their few opponents. Americans expressed no official regret over the millions they killed in Vietnam, and scores of other nations have been similarly unconcerned with enemy civilian casualties.

Americans cheered the bombing of Tokyo and Dresden, and the Russians felt great about shelling Berlin. It’s nice to see your enemies dead.

The line between soldiers and civilians is entirely artificial and has never never been observed in war. Hezbollah exists only because Lebanese civilians welcome and hide it, provide logistics and moral support, even finance it now since it joined the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah is not a group of bandits that holds the population hostage. The Lebanese freely elected Hezbollah. Israel fights not criminals but a regular, official army sent by a duly elected government. Hezbollah remains a major part of the Lebanese government and parliament after it started the war. Lebanese officials keep good working relations with Hezbollah staff. Hezbollah is not ousted from government, nor are its actions denounced. Israel is fighting the state of Lebanon, not a bunch of insurgents. And so the people of Lebanon, the source of its government’s legitimacy, funds, and military capability, are a proper target for Israeli attacks.

Targeting the home front would be acceptable even if it were entirely vindictive, since vengeance can be just. Recall a 1927 French court decision that acquitted Schlomo Schwartzbard—who killed Petlyura. Targeting the home front, however, is a proper military tactic. It efficiently breaks up support for the enemy army. Such popular support is especially indispensable for a guerilla army like Hezbollah. All armies during all popular wars have targeted the supporting population, generally without restraint. Israel cannot fight a Hezbollah that is indistinguishable from the Lebanese people. Israel should fight the Lebanese spearheaded by Hezbollah.

Learn from your children. Know your enemy.