The Secretary General once again can't bring himself to use that central fact of international law called "self defense" --when it comes to Israel. He calls it "reprisals". He talks about "endanger[ing] the civilian population". He ignores the Geneva Conventions which do not grant immunity to military targets or terrorists using civilians as human shields. The Convention prohibits the disproportionate use of force, that is, an attack on a military target "which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life" when "excessive." The Convention is clear that the presence of "civilians shall not be used to render . . . areas immune from military operations. . . . in attempts to shield military objectives from attack." None of which is ever applied to Israel by Kofi Annan.