Sunday, July 23, 2006

Israeli War Crimes in Lebanon Continue with US Acquiescence, 7/23/06

Washington Post
, Sunday, July 23, 2006, 10:04 AM:

Israeli warplanes hit a minibus on its way to Tyre, killing three and wounding 13, Lebanese security forces said. It was carrying 16 Lebanese fleeing border village of Tairi. Israel also struck the Lebanese port city of Sidon, destroying a religious complex, AP reported. Four people were reported injured, the wire service said. Sidon has been a point of refuge for many fleeing the violence along the border.

A textile factory in the border town of al-Manara also was bombed by Israel, killing one person and wounding two, Mayor Ali Rahal told the AP.

The wire service and CNN reported that a photographer working for a Lebanese magazine was killed Sunday when an Israeli missile exploded near her taxi in southern Lebanon.

Security officials said Layal Nejib, 23, a photographer for Al-Jarasshe, was the first journalist to die in Israel's offensive, the AP reported. She died after the strike on a road near the border town of Qana, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press, the AP reported. Her driver survived, the officials said.

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Scared to flee ... even more scared to stay
A growing flood of humanity is desperately fleeing the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon

Peter Beaumont | July 23, 2006 The Observer (UK)

A massive refugee flight from southern Lebanon was under way yesterday (July 22) as tens of thousands of mainly Shia civilians took to the roads after almost a fortnight of relentless Israeli attacks. From dawn yesterday, hundreds, then thousands, of cars and rusty trucks choked the narrow mountain roads leading towards Beirut from the bombed and impassable coastal road. Whole extended families were on board. Many had been forced to abandon all they owned. They came in taxis, buses and private cars, trailing improvised white flags from their windows or with bed sheets slung across their roofs - scant protection from the Israeli jets.

The beleaguered country is facing a humanitarian catastrophe on an enormous scale with more than half a million civilians already displaced and hundreds of thousands more under 'orders' from the Israeli military to evacuate a 20-mile deep zone south of the Litani river. Amid warnings from the World Food Program that hundreds of thousands of people are already finding it difficult to find food, mayors in areas away from the heaviest bombardment have told The Observer they are being overwhelmed by refugees flooding from the country's south and Beirut's southern suburbs, and are just days from a humanitarian crisis.

With roads and bridges bombed by the Israelis and large areas of the country under artillery bombardment, aid workers have only been able to contact the most seriously affected areas by phone. They have warned that tens of thousands of elderly, women and children are in danger in the worst-hit areas.

The problems have been exacerbated by the huge reliance of Lebanon on imported food - almost 90 per cent...The UN warned yesterday the situation in Lebanon was 'deteriorating by the hour'. Its humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, is due to arrive in Beirut to assess the crisis on the ground, as Lebanese civilians flee north amid fears of a large-scale Israeli ground invasion.

Egeland said half a million people needed assistance - and the number was likely to grow as Israeli troops continued to expand their military operations inside Lebanon.

There was little comfort for those fleeing through the mountains yesterday. Most cars were packed with families, children on adults' knees, some crushed eight to a vehicle. Others who travelled by taxi northwards reported paying $100 per passenger to escape to Beirut - or $1,000 for a family.

Those forced to leave on the open backs of trucks suffered most, exhausted, sunburnt and dehydrated as they crawled through the traffic jams that had gridlocked the Druze mountain villages.

Refugees described gruelling journeys from the besieged city of Tyre and the towns and villages south of the Litani river, where some 300,000 people were ordered to evacuate by leaflets dropped late last week from Israeli aircraft.

Most had little idea where they were fleeing to, only that they could no longer remain in their homes under Israeli attack. Most said they were heading for Beirut or the Syrian border.

Few wanted to stop and talk, fearful of being exposed on the roads to Israeli bombs. But those who did spoke of towns suffering days of bombing, of deaths and damaged houses and bodies buried in the rubble. They described, too, how only those wealthy enough or with cars could escape areas running rapidly out of fuel and food.

Among those who had fled Terdeeba, four miles from Tyre, was Maryam Leban, who, with her parents had taken refuge in a school in the Shouf mountain town of Daraya. 'Everyone is making their own decision on when to leave. Some families are left but not many,' she said. 'We had to get out because they were hitting the whole area. Forty-five houses in the village were damaged. We do not know how many were killed because we could not leave the house.'

Suddenly a white van draped with bed sheets pulled up, just arrived from Terdeeba. As those already in the school hugged the men inside, the eldest - who would not give his name - said: 'It was difficult. Very difficult. There were cars on the road that had run out of gas. But no one could stop to help. People also tried to tell us to turn back. They said it was too dangerous. But we could not stay, so we came. There is almost no one in the village now.'

The majority of refugees encountered by The Observer were escaping from Tyre and its surrounding villages, which have suffered days of Israeli bombardment so heavy that, during a brief lull on Friday, the city was forced to bury more than 80 of its dead in a hastily dug mass grave.

Down from the mountains - on the coastal plain - the cities that border the Mediterranean appeared largely deserted as a vast plume of black smoke billowed from the ruptured fuel tanks of the Jieh power plant, hit by missiles from an Israeli Apache helicopter last week.

The huge movement of civilians will only exacerbate the crisis in Lebanon, which has already seen the flight of most of Beirut's southern suburban population who have suffered days of bombing. Refugees have fled to places such as the Shia village of Keyfoun in the Shouf mountains above Beirut, usually home to a few thousand people. In winter its population is 2,000. In summer, when the wealthy Shia from Beirut come up on holiday to their summer homes, it rises to 5,000.

Last week the number of those living in this mountain village hit 40,000 as refugees arrived. In Keyfoun - as elsewhere across the country - people sleep crowded in school classrooms, in half-built housing blocks, public buildings and in the village's solitary hotel. Mostly, though, they stay in other people's houses - three and even four families to a home.

The refugees in Keyfoun are by and large the lucky ones - at least there is food to be had if you have the money - but it is full to bursting. On a single day 240 new families arrived; the municipality had to refuse refuge to any more. Yet still you see them coming up the twisting roads, cars packed with bedding.

Twenty thousand of those who have come to Keyfoun have come from the area of Bourj al-Barajneh, near Beirut's international airport, target of the first Israeli air raids and now largely deserted. The thin foam mattresses that you see stacked against shop doors sell for $30. Blankets go for the same price, with six or seven being shared among up to 20.

Keyfoun's water, delivered from the Barouk river twice a week into a million-litre tank, lasts barely an hour. Many still have money for food: staples like eggs and rice and sugar are becoming more difficult to find...

Typical of those displaced, Ali Ghassan, 58, a former prisoner of the Israelis, is from Tyre. A truck driver and supporter of Hizbollah, he says he left only because of his young children. ..'I built my house two times because of war. I do not wish to have build it a third time.'

Close to the epicentre of last week's attack - a building looking much as locals claim it was, a half-built mosque - only a handful of families remain. Among them is Hasna Shahabeldeen, 40, who was in her apartment when the bombs fell. While the rest of her family fled, she elected to remain.

'There are only four or five families left near here. People have tried to persuade me to go. But I will stay. If necessary I'll die here,' she said...

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Israeli Soldiers Push Deeper into Lebanon, Seize Village
Los Angeles Times | July 23, 2006

AVIVIM, Israel — As tens of thousands of Lebanese fled the southern tier of their country over bombed-out roads, Israeli warplanes blasted communications towers in central and northern Lebanon and struck for the first time the southern port city of Sidon, where thousands of refugees have sought haven. Reports say the air raid destroyed a Shiite religious complex....Witnesses said a series of large explosions rocked southern Beirut.

...Lebanese by the thousands attempted to flee north over crowded, bombed-splintered roads choked with dust and chaos. Exhausted and angry, families said they did not know where they would go, only that they could no longer remain in villages that had been left in ruins.

"I'm very sad to be leaving my home," said Hassan Shehab, a 45-year-old tailor who was stuck in traffic on a single-lane dirt road leading toward Beirut from the southern seaside city of Tyre. .."Israel wants to kill all of us," he said. "They want this country." By midday Saturday, 14 bomb-battered bodies had been delivered to the Tyre hospital from surrounding villages, and 30,000 evacuees were crammed into basements and schools or ended up on lawns outside a beach resort.

Lebanese and U.N. officials warned of a humanitarian crisis, estimating that at least 700,000 people have been displaced, 360 Lebanese civilians killed and more than 1,000 wounded since Israel launched its attacks a week and a half ago.

The ground fighting has centered on the ridge where Maroun el Ras sits, and where Israeli forces encountered stiff resistance....On Saturday, columns of five or six Israeli tanks and bulldozers could be seen advancing up the stony slope to Maroun el Ras....

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The Savage Heartlessness of Condi Rice

by Stan Moore | July 22 2006
http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/33007

"The status quo is not acceptable to Condi Rice, because Condi thinks like Israel's government – if one Israeli suffers, then one thousand Arabs must suffer ten times as much."

Condi Rice does not want a cease-fire in Lebanon. That would bring us back to the status quo, which is totally unacceptable. Rather, Condi Rice wants the destruction of Lebanon and its infrastructure and the killing of hundreds of innocent lives -- that seems better to Condi Rice than the status quo of infrequent missile attacks on Israel by Hezbollah.

Condi Rice seems to have failed completely to learn from recent history. She says that the status quo of Hezbollah attacking Israel with missiles at times and places of Hezbollah's choosing are unacceptable and thus a cease-fire is also unacceptable.
Did Condi notice that even with the Israelis pummeling Lebanon's innocent civilians and infrastructure into the dust, that Hezbollah continues to launch missiles at Israel at times and places of Hezbollah's choosing?

Did Condi Rice happen to notice that 150,000 or so of America's potent military forces and air bases, drone airplanes and tens of thousands of armed Iraqi soldiers have failed to prevent insurgent attacks within Iraq at times and places of the insurgents' choosing?

Does Condi Rice think there is a military solution to these problems?

Or is Condi Rice just a heartless foe of Arabs and Muslims, happy to see the suffering of tens and hundreds of thousands of displaced Arabs as a form of revenge against the Arab peoples in retaliation for the "terrorism" of a relative few?
If Condi Rice had had a slave forefather who stole the master's horse, would she think it appropriate that the entire slave community be beaten?

The status quo is not acceptable to Condi Rice, because Condi thinks like Israel's government – if one Israeli suffers, then one thousand Arabs must suffer ten times as much.

Thus, Condi will not feel good about a cease-fire in Lebanon while the punishment continues to be meted out for those unfortunate enough to be breathing and speaking Arabic. It really does not matter to Condi and Israel's Ehud Olmert whether breathing Lebanese or Palestinian Arabs are guilty of crimes against citizens of Arab. Breathing Arabs are to be collectively punished for the sins of their kin, no matter how personally uninvolved they may happen to be in fact.

This savage heartlessness of Condi Rice does not escape the notice of Arabs everywhere, as well as people of conscience around the world. Condi is trying to make the status quo worse, not better, and it makes one wonder why anyone would call her a "diplomat". Hate-monger is a more appropriate term for this heartless female.

(Editor's note: What is said here of "Condi" may also be said of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the vast majority of the US Congress and most of the American media: repulsive racist hatred for Arabs and Muslims is at the core of their indifference to, or even cheering on Israeli war crimes in Lebanon. These Americans are the same people who have made a compulsory religion out of commemorating the suffering of Judaic civilians during WWII, but are oblivious to Arab suffering happening right now, which they actually exacerbate that suffering with military armament, taxpayer funds as well as moral support to the Israelis waging war against Lebanese civilians. Clearly the slogan of "Holocaust" propaganda, "Never Again," does not apply to the Israeli mass murder of Arabs).

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'Children suffering the most'
News24.com | July 21, 2006

The UN children's agency Unicef said a third of people killed and an estimated half of those displaced in Lebanon had been children.

Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs (Ocha) said: "The exact situation and needs of about 500,000 people displaced or otherwise affected by the conflict was difficult to assess because humanitarian agencies were finding it difficult to move around the country."

Although supplies were stockpiled to be sent to Lebanon, moving them was delayed because roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed by Israeli air raids and shelling in the southern part of the country, said officials. Supplies enough to care for 4 000 "Even when trucks and ambulances could, they risked being hit."

"Overcrowding in school shelters and lack of access to safe water poses a threat of acute respiratory infections, waterborne diseases and the spread of contagious diseases such as measles," said Unicef. Unicef's Wivina Belmonte said Lebanese children were bearing the brunt of the hostilities. "They make up one third of the fatalities so far," said Belmonte. "Of the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, our estimates are that half of those are children."

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Our city is being torn...

July 23, 2006 | The Observer (UK)

Dr Mohamed Bashir, general manager of Hizbollah's al-Rassoul hospital, leant back in his chair. 'We have 160 beds and all are full - with our usual patients. Since this war started, we have not received one person from Haret Hreik.' Haret Hreik, Hizbollah's headquarters in the southern suburbs of Beirut, lies in ruins. Once home to tens of thousands, the neighbourhood is now a pancake of destruction. It bears silent witness to the futility of Israel's first 10 days of war in Beirut. For Haret Hreik was meant to be the tomb of Hizbollah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

There is no evidence that a single person died at the height of Israel's onslaught against Haret Hreik, a five-hour bombardment that provoked a counter-attack on Israel's third-largest city, Haifa, driving its inhabitants into shelters for the first time since the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948. It is a measure of the poverty of Israel's intelligence that those who ordered the air force into action on 16 July appear not to have known that Haret Hreik had been evacuated days before.

The multi-million-dollar mistake was repeated three days later, when 23 tons of bombs were dropped on a mosque under construction in a poor quarter of Bourj al-Barajneh, another predominantly Shia neighbourhood. Israel claimed the mosque had multiple basements. It had only one - a storage area for Korans and prayer rugs, judging by the debris there. Much of Bourj had been evacuated before the bombing. No one died.

...In its next attack, the Israelis flattened a multi-storey apartment building in another part of Bourj. Again, no one died. Hizbollah had recommended that the area be evacuated days earlier. In Ashrafieh, in Christian east Beirut, Israeli planes attacked a piece of drilling equipment. Some thought that they mistook it for a launch ramp; others that they were sending a message to the Christian community: 'Stay away from Hizbollah.' Anger soon gave way to a sort of bitter amusement.

'They are so stupid, the Israelis,' said architect Simone Kosremelli, whose mother lives near by. 'Imagine that they thought there was a missile ramp in the heart of Ashrafieh. But if they are going to hit every machine in Beirut, we are in trouble.’

... It is not just the agony of south Lebanon, and the garbage that is piling up. It is not the lack of fresh milk since the IDF (Israeli air force) bombed milk factories and the quadrupling, in many areas, of fruit and vegetable prices since the IDF smashed the roads between Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and south Lebanon.

...For the moment, there is a new sense of Lebanese-ness as Israel strikes Muslim and Christian, soldier and militiaman, woman and child. 'I am really proud of this country,' said Ihab Ghandour, a Beirut businessman spending $6,000 a day on a relief operation staffed by dozens of young people of all religions and political persuasions, and who has transformed a network cafe into a media monitoring centre from where volunteers are bombarding the world's press with criticism. The idea grew from a television broadcast that reported '170 dead on both sides' at a time when Israel's dead were in single figures. 'That's revolting,' Ghandour said. 'The next day, I gathered people around.'

As a 13-year-old, Jawad Saad helped deliver relief supplies during a previous Israeli offensive - 'Grapes of Wrath' in south Lebanon in 1996. Ten years later, he is assessing need in the public spaces and buildings where more than half a million southerners are squatting, tending their patches with the same care with which they tended their homes until last week. 'I am not Hizbollah, but I am with Hizbollah because Hizbollah is against Israel and Israel is my enemy,' he said.

In a school-turned-reception-centre at the southern approach of Beirut, Ali Hassan, a Hizbollah official, lit a candle and apologised for the lack of electricity. 'We are not worried by candles. If Israel wants to defeat Hizbollah, it must erase the whole of Lebanon'...

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