The Qana Massacre, Part II
Israeli war planes scored a direct hit on a building in the Shiite village of Qana where destitute farming folk, including old people, women and children, had taken refuge in the basement from Israeli bombing raids. At least 60 are dead, as bodies are pulled from the rubble. 19 children are confirmed dead and another 11 are thought still to be in the basement. The Israelis say they had pamphleted the region demanding that all civilians leave, and high Israeli officials have openly said that anyone who remains is fair game (low civilianity index, and maybe low humanianity index, too). The Israelis don’t say, however, how desperately poor hardscrabble farmers including the aged and infirm and children are supposed to travel to Beirut over the roads and bridges that the Israelis have bombed out, and on what they are supposed to live when they get there.
The Israelis had launched 80 air raids on the village of Qana overnight, with large numbers of buildings flattened, according to CNN.
The Israelis appear to be engaged in a concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Shiite towns and villages of southern Lebanon, and are indiscriminately bombing all buildings in the area south of the Litani River. They have chased hundreds of thousands of residents out, and are destroying the property they left behind in a systematic way, rather as they destroy the houses belonging to the family members related to suicide bombers. In other words, the Israelis are engaged in collective punishment on a vast scale. They maintain that rocket launching sites are embedded in these villages. But since Hizbullah keeps firing large numbers of rockets, it does not actually appear to be the case that the Israelis are hitting the rocket launchers. They are demonstrably hitting civilian houses and apartment buildings in a methodical way. There is no independent evidence that this civilian building in Qana was used for any military purpose. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has called for an international investigation and an immediate ceasefire, and he summarily sent Condi Rice away until she brings such a proposal.
Thousands of Lebanese in Beirut demonstrated in response and invaded the UN HQ in the capital. They also chanted against the United States ambassador in Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, screaming “Feltman out now!”
Feltman seems to be trapped in the US embassy, away from which most embassy employees have already been sent abroad. He expressed his regret to the Lebanese government for not being able to come to Baabda.
The Israelis bombed the Beirut-Damascus highway again on Saturday, adding to the crippling of Lebanon’s infrastructure. Damascus is Beirut’s inland trading partner and Lebanese trying to get out of the country have to go that route.
Mark Perry analyzes the decision-making that led to Qana.
Hamid Mir in Beirut finds that even some Christian nightclub owners are supporting Hizbullah! Opinion polls show Christian support for Hizbullah’s resistance to the Israelis to have risen to over 50 percent in recent days, from the mid-40s.
Question 1: In what way is the Israeli compaign in South Lebanon different from Slobodon Milosevic’s campaign in Bosnia?
Question 2: Since Bush and Rice derailed any move toward a ceasefire of the sort that the entire rest of the world demanded, aren’t they directly implicated in this bloodshed?
AP reports on what the moral response would be of a normal human being in high political office:
‘ French President Jacques Chirac’s office said “France condemns this unjustifiable action, which shows more than ever the need to move toward an immediate cease-fire, without which other such dramas can only be repeated.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah II condemned “the ugly crime perpetrated by Israeli forces in Qana,” calling it “a blatant violation of the law and all international conventions.”‘
Later in the day, Pope Benedict XVI called for an immediate ceasefire.
I repeat, the Pope has called for an immediate ceasefire.
We know what we can expect from W.
Issandr El Amrani links to pictures of the Qana massacre and reminds us of the massacre of ten years ago.
Brent Scowcroft argues for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since the Arab League made such an offer to Israel way back in 2002, I’d say the ball is in Olmert’s court. Good luck.
Between 2000, when the Israelis withdrew unilaterally from their illegal military occupation of Lebanon’s south, through July 12, 2006, six Israeli civilians died in border violence.
Israel’s attack on fuel stations at the Christian port of Jounieh and elsewhere have caused massive oil spills on Lebanese beaches, perhaps the biggest environmental disaster ever in the Mediterranean.