Israelis Bomb Beirut, Baalbak Again
Tank Incursion in South
Massive Displacements, Humanitarian Crisis
“Israel’s disproportionate use of force and collective punishment must stop.”
– UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
[Red herring alert:Someone on the Web is questioning this quote or complaining that I didn’t mention that Kofi also condemned Hizbullah. Oh for heaven’s sakes. I used the quote as an epigraph. It is perfectly accurately quoted. If I had been doing a report on Annan, I would have quoted the whole passage. Using one of his phrases for an epigraph is perfectly legitimate. The quote is here.
‘ As The Daily Star went to press [Thursday night], three Israeli bombs fell on the southern suburbs of the capital and additional ordnance hit the northern city of Baalbek, leaving both areas ablaze. No casualty count was available.’
It also reports:
‘ Israel has opened a 60-kilometer front along the southern Lebanese border, from Naqoura to Majidiyeh, a Lebanese security source said on Thursday. “This front is to estimate Hizbullah’s retaliation strength on the ground,” the source said. “The fighting zone is inside Lebanese territory, which the UN itself has marked and which Israel agrees is Lebanese.” Although up to now Israel has only hinted that it might undertake a full-scale invasion of Lebanon, on Thursday its tanks in fact attempted to cross the UN-demarcated Blue Line. According to a Hizbullah statement, Israeli troops met “fierce resistance from Hizbullah fighters as the Israelis crossed into Lebanon.” An Israeli Army spokesperson said his troops were looking for “tunnels and weapons for the second day.” ‘
South Beirut courtesy Daily Star
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. The Daily Star says:
‘ Dozens of buildings were demolished in Haret Hreik and Bir al-Abed in the southern suburbs, where 200,000 people formerly resided. In the midst of the rubble, a few residents dared to come back to their former homes and search for possessions to salvage. ‘
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.
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 . . .” ‘
The Orwellian world into which Olmert and his band of manic bombers have plunged ordinary Lebanese is illustrated by Liz Sly’s report for the Trib:
‘ Thousands of Lebanese were trying to flee the south after Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets warning people to leave, stirring fears that an Israeli ground invasion was imminent. But hundreds of thousands more remain stranded in villages and towns across the south, unable to leave their homes because of the intensity of the sustained Israeli bombing campaign. United Nations and Lebanese officials warned of an impending humanitarian disaster unless food and medical supplies are allowed to reach the stricken area and called on Israel to establish a “humanitarian corridor” to allow aid to get through. ‘
So let’s get this straight. The Israelis warn the small town Shiites of the south to flee their own homes and go hundreds of miles away (and live on what? in what?). But then they intensely bombing them, making it impossible for them to flee. The Lebanese have awoken to find themselves cockroaches.
I repeat, 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.
The economy of downtown Beirut has been murdered by the Israelis.
An acquaintance passed this on;
‘ I’ve just heard from Christine . . . via text messaging . She is in the Bekaa valley in a bomb shelter and Israel is bombing the village where she is at the moment. She says they are bombing the Red Cross, food lorries, fire brigade, hospitals and emergency relief centres . . . She is very concerned about the lack of reporting by the international media about the details of this violence. ‘
As for Israel, Haaretz reports:
‘ There was a significant drop in the number of rockets launched against northern Israel, with an estimated 35-40 rockets hitting empty fields in the Galilee. IDF sources were hard pressed to explain the reason for the drop . . .
The air force carried out more than 150 sorties throughout Lebanon yesterday. Six launchers were destroyed and 16 Hezbollah bases as well as three arms storage facilities were bombed. The air assault destroyed 21 Hezbollah vehicles and included attacks on 100 bridges and roads throughout Lebanon.
In the upcoming days, the IDF plans to expand ground operations in southern Lebanon. Next week, more units will be moved to the North, which will enable broader operations against villages throughout the south. ‘
I don’t think it is nice to carry out massive military “operations” against “villages.” I am sure they meant to say “Hizbullah bases” or “missile emplacements.” Or maybe they really do just mean “villages.”
Professor Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University on the Lebanon crisis.
Here is an individual effort to bring Israeli officials up on charges for war crimes in Lebanon.
More horrible, horrible pictures of the Israeli carnage against Lebanese civilians. I advise you not to click, but if you do, you are on your own.
USG summaries of Iraqi press for July 19:
‘ Al-Adalah publishes on page 2 a 400-word text of a statement by Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim demanding the Iraqi government to cooperate with Arab and Muslim countries to stop the Israeli attacks against Lebanon. . .
Al-Bayyinah carries on page 1 a 250-word report citing Unified Iraqi Coalition member Baha al-A’raji [aide to Muqtada al-Sadr] commenting on the Israeli attacks against Lebanon, and criticizing the Arab League for failing to support the Arab people. . .