Israeli Air Strikes Kill 15 Civilians:
Hizbullah Fires longer range Missile, Misses
‘ Israel’s powerful war machine pounded Lebanon for the 17th day on Friday as Hizbullah launched new, longer-range wepons on settlements in northern Israel . . . Israeli planes and warships hammered Southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley . . .
‘At least 15 civilians, including a Jordanian, were killed by Israeli raids Friday and several others wounded, including four children, while a church was demolished in Safad al-Battikh . . .
“The Israeli bombing wounded one French journalist in the Southern town of Ainata and another media convoy was bombed on the road leading to the Southern town of Rmeish,” the report added. The French journalist was identified as Paul Quatier from France’s Channel 2. ‘
Lebanese in the south, mainly Shiites are turning to Hizbullah in a big way.
The UN is calling for a three-day aid cease-fire, so that food and other necessities can be delivered to suffering Lebanese civilians. The Israelis at the moment are only authorizing aid convoys on an ad hoc basis, which means they are constantly in danger of being attacked by the Israeli army.
Many Indians are upset about what is being done to Lebanon. I would guess that there are nearly 5 million Shiites in India (they are about 5 percent of the Muslims, who are 11 percent of India’s more than 1 billion persons.
What about the country’s executive? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh articulated the country’s feelings when he addressed parliament on Thursday:
‘ While condemning the Hezbollah abduction of two Israeli soldiers, which triggered the Israeli onslaught, Manmohan Singh took Tel Aviv to task: “The virtual destruction of a country which has been painfully rebuilt after two decades of civil war can hardly be countenanced by any civilized state.” ‘
If the US Congress is going to earmark millions for the Lebanese army, wouldn’t it want to ask the Israelis to stop bombarding it first?
What do the Lebanese think about all this? They have revenge on their minds and most support Hizbullah’s actions, even a majority of the Christians. Christians make up 40 percent of the voting-age population, and hold the presidency and a number of cabinet posts, as well as many positions in the officer corps.
The percentage of Lebanese in a recent poll who think that the US is an honest broker and has a place in Lebanese affairs has fallen from nearly 40 percent last January to 10 percent today. Lebanon was supposed to be the Bush administration’s success story. All has turned to ashes.
As for the Israeli hope of getting the Lebanese to turn on Hizbullah, that doesn’t seem to be working out very well. 87 percent of the Lebanese expressed support for Hizbullah’s retaliatory attacks on northern Israel. 70 percent supported Hizbullah’s capture of Israeli troops to force Israel to release Lebanese prisoners. Support for this move actually rose to a clear majority even among Christians. Only
the Druze among Lebanese ethnic/religious communities mostly disapproved (they are 6 percent of the population). 63 percent expect Hizbullah to be victorious over Israel.
As for suffering in Israel, which is widespread and worrisome: The bad news is that Hizbullah was able to fire a missile a little bit south of Haifa on Friday. The good news is that they don’t appear to have been able actually to hit anything.
There is another dimension, besides the deaths, wounded and psychological trauma, to the damage Hizbullah’s illegal and criminal targetting of civilians is doing, which is the economic.
‘ Haifa port, the Jewish state’s second-largest, is closed. So is the railway line north of the city. . . According to a recent study by the Israeli Association of Manufacturers, just a third of enterprises in Israel’s north are functioning normally. Thirty-five percent have closed completely and another 35 percent are not operating at full capacity. The conflict is costing Haifa 300-500 million shekels ($68-$113 million) per day, the study estimates. ‘
Tourism is dead, and some restaurants have suffered a 90 percent fall-off in business.