Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies of the Middle East Institute, Columbia University. Interview from PBS:
Some have suggested that Israel’s response to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers is excessive and disproportionate. What’s your reaction?
Israel has hit and closed Beirut airport, depriving the country of its sole air link to the outside world. It has blockaded the coast, and has hit the route to Damascus, effectively cutting off Lebanon from the outside world. It has hit the main electricity facilty at Jiyye, knocking out the fuel tanks, and causing electricity cuts in much of the country. So far about 60 Lebaanese civilians have been killed against three Israeli civilians killed in Hizballah shelling (this is besides Israeli soldiers killed and captured, and Hizbullah militants killed).
This offensive is nothing if not disproportionate, and grossly excessive, not to speak of counter-productive in terms of Israel’s stated aims vis-a-vis releasing its captured soldiers and weakening HIzbullah.
Those of Israel’s attacks directed against the civilian population constitute war crimes (or terrorism if you prefer) as does Hizballah shelling of Israeli civilians (but not the killing or capture of Israeli soldiers or Hizballah fighters).