Sunday, August 13, 2006

War in the Middle East

Staff Sgt. Uri Grossman, 20 years old, was killed by an anti-tank missile in Lebanon today. He is the son of David Grossman, a well-known Israeli novelist who is among a number of Israeli writers and other artists and intellectuals calling for an end to the fighting.

According to an Australian paper, The Daily Telegraph, a husband and wife who were arrested in connection with the U.K. terror plot were planning to take their six-month-old infant on one of the planes. They were going to use their baby's bottle to hide a liquid bomb.

I can imagine nothing more revolting than using your own baby in a plot to kill hundreds of others; but I am also frightened and repelled by the way the far right jumps on incidents like this to make sweeping generalizations about entire groups of people based on ethnicity and religion.

Israel and Lebanon are both increasing their attacks so they can get in as much killing as possible before a ceasefire takes effect tomorrow morning. An Hezbollah rocket attack set cars on fire in Haifa. The attack was part of a barrage of 250 rockets that hit several locations in Israel.

Meanwhile, the IDF "launched what appeared to be one of the heaviest bombardments on southern Lebanon in the 33-day-old conflict, and struck targets in Beirut's southern suburbs."

And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Israel's bombardment of Lebanon has given Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, an enormous mandate among the Lebanese people; and it looks like Nasrallah intends to use that capital [emphasis mine]:

Despite the terrible toll in death and destruction in Lebanon, even enemies and critics say the stature of Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has risen dramatically from his guerrillas fighting toe-to-toe with the Israeli army.

Some have even taken to comparing the radical Shiite Muslim cleric to the late Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, who enjoyed wide popularity in the Middle East for standing up to the West and pushing for Arab unity.

"Hassan Nasrallah has won militarily and politically and has become a new leader like Nasser," Lebanese lawmaker Walid Jumblatt, a harsh critic of Hezbollah's alliance with Iran and Syria, said in a television interview.

Hezbollah was already popular among Lebanon's 1.2 million Shiites, mainly from the armed struggle that led Israel to end an 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon but also because of the group's network of social services and charities for the poor.

Now, Israel's ferocious bombing has rallied many more Lebanese around Hezbollah, regardless of politics or religion, said Gen. Antoine Lahd, who led a now defunct militia that helped Israeli troops police the occupation zone before they withdrew six years ago.

Beirut's leading newspaper, An-Nahar, has long been critical of Hezbollah -- especially its harassing rocket attacks on Israel before the war began -- but it urged all Lebanese to stand behind Nasrallah's group to achieve victory against the Jewish state.

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