Friday, July 21, 2006

Israel's Measured and Restrained War Against Lebanon

Everyone should read Juan Cole's post on the continuing, horrific air war being conducted by Israel against the people of Lebanon. It's a long post, with many links; I am going to do some selective quoting here:

The tenement buildings of poor, Shiite, south Beirut lie in ruins, with hundreds of thousands of the poor made homeless as they fled relentless Israeli bombing of civilian neighborhoods. ...
Hizbullah is the main political party in south Beirut and so of course had political offices there, which the Israelis have bombed. But they did so in complete disregard for civilian life, and what they bombed were not necessarily military targets. There is a difference between the Hizbullah paramilitary of some 5,000 fighters and the political party and its social service institutions-- which include hospitals, clinics and soup kitchens. Or did.

Meanwhile, Shiites of South Lebanon fled Israeli bombing of their villages, coming up north to Beirut, which lacks capacity to deal with these refugees.

The Associated Press reports:

As the death toll rose to 330 in Lebanon, as well as at least 32 Israelis, Lebanese streamed north into the capital and other regions, crowding into schools, relatives' homes or hotels. Taxi drivers in the south were charging up to $400 US a person for rides to Beirut - more than 40 times the usual price. In remote villages of the south, cut off by Isaraeli air strikes, residents made their way out over the mountains by foot. The price of food, medical supplies and gasoline rose by as much as 500 per cent in parts of Lebanon on Thursday as Israel's relentless bombardment destroyed roads, bridges and other supply routes. The World Food Program said estimates of basic food supplies ranged from one to three months. '

Not satisfied to have made 500,000 out of 3.8 million Lebanese homeless already, and to have chased over 100,000 out of their own country to Syria, AP says that on Thursday ' Israel warned hundreds of thousands of people to flee southern Lebanon "immediately . . ." '
...this is nothing less than an ethnic cleansing of the Shiites of southern Lebanon, an assault on an entire civilian population's way of life. Aside from ecology, it is no different from what Saddam Hussein did to the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, and the Israelis are doing it for exactly the same sorts of reasons that Saddam did.

Prof. Cole also links to graphic photographs of the carnage. These images are extremely gory; so be sure you feel strong enough to look at them. For those who do not feel strong enough, I will describe the first few in general terms: The first two show Israeli girls, about 10 to 12 years old, writing messages on missiles destined for Lebanon. The girls are smiling, clearly having fun and enjoying their activity. The next photograph shows a Lebanese child killed by an Israeli airstrike. This description does not begin to convey what you see when you look at the photograph. The photo caption says: "South Lebanon: A Lebanese child receiving the message from the Israeli girls!" What the next two photographs show, I will not describe, except to say they are stomach-turning. The first is headlined, "West Supporting the Israeli Measured Response!" and the second is headlined, simply, "Measured?" A banner headline at the top of the page reads: "From the Lebanese People to the So-Called "Civilized" West: Thank you!"

After reading Cole's post and looking at only the first four or five of the photographs he links to, I find myself nauseated by Gaius's self-righteous, posturing piece responding to the apology offered by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah for an attack on northern Israel that killed two Israeli-Arab boys.

"We consider them martyrs for Palestine and martyrs for the nation." Says the man who caused the deaths of two Iraeli Arab boys aged three and nine years. The same man who unleashed the war in the first place. The same man who orders missile hidden inside civilian homes. The same man who orders the rocket barrages that target civilians. The same man that causes roadblocks to be set up to keep Lebanese civilians in the line of fire.

The man responsible for multiple war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.

I'm sure your empty words delivered from your empty soul are of great comfort to all the people you have caused to die in this war you started, Hassan Nasrallah. All of your apologists in the West cannot change this one fact: You chose to start this war.

Nasrallah's "apology" and his declaration that the two dead boys are "martyrs" for Palestine are just as self-serving, hypocritical, and revolting as Gaius's use of them to act out his supposed horror at the fact that two little boys in Israel "will grow no older" -- while he ignores the more than 300 Lebanese lives abruptly ended, many of them children who also "will grow no older." It's a shame that Gaius and others like him cannot look at photographs of Lebanese children's bodies mutilated beyond recognition by Israeli bombs and acknowledge that this is closer to savagery than to "restraint."

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