Lebanon War Grinds on Despite UN Diplomacy
On Sunday morning, “Six civilians were killed when an air-to-ground missile hit a house in the village of Ansar, near the port city of Sidon. The aircraft returned as rescue teams in villages throughout the area tried to sift through rubble searching for more victims.”
Also, on Sunday morning, the The Israeli airforce attacked non-Hizbullah targets such as bridges in the north and a Palestinian camp in the Biqa’.
The United States and France reached agreement at the United Nations on Saturday on the wording of a resolution calling for an end of hostilities in the Israel-Lebanon war. The resolution does not require Israeli forces to depart Lebanese soil, which Hizbullah says is a deal breaker with regard to any ceasefire.
That this language was agreed upon by John Bolton, among the most velociraptor-like warmongers to hold high office in American history, suggests one of two things: Either the Israeli political elite itself has concluded that it has accomplished all it can against Hizbullah, or the Europeans and US Arab allies, including Iraq, have prevailed on Bush to shorten the leash on Olmert. The war will go on for a while, even so, as the Israelis continue their ethnic cleansing of the Lebanese South.
Rosemary Hollis says that Israel underestimated Hizbullah. If so, it helps explain the turn to UN resolutions. If they thought they were really winning, the Israelis would probably have ordered Bolton to go on stonewalling the French.
The Lebanese government expressed serious reservations about the UN draft language. In particular, Beirut wants an explicit statement that Israel must relinquish the occupied Shebaa Farms. A spokesman was careful to say, however, that the government was not rejecting the draft.
Back in the real world, AFP/NaharNet report that on Saturday:
‘In the space of seven hours Saturday, Israel hit Lebanon with around 250 air raids and some 4,000 shells . . .
The single village of Aitaroun near the border endured a barrage of 2,000 rounds.
Israeli artillery was systematically leveling 15 villages within five km of the border after Israeli leaders vowed to create a security zone free of Hizbullah fighters in the area, the police added. ‘
Or maybe of living things.
Israeli commandos made a raid into Tyre early Saturday morning. They claim it was a success. Hizbullah claims to have thwarted it. No way to know who is right. (Arab satellite stations report the story with the Hizbullah slant on the whole.)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Saturday rejected European criticism of Israel’s massive bombing of Lebanon and its killing of hundreds of innocent civilians. He pointed to Kosovo as precedent for what he was doing.
Olmert also said he thought he might just murder Hasan Nasrallah.
Uh, Ehud, you’re supposed to be playing NATO in this interview, remember? Not Milosevic. You’re getting your precedents for murder, mass or otherwise, mixed up.
Besides, the whole analogy is wrong. Milosevic’s forces were ethnically cleansing the Kosovars. NATO was protecting the latter (and the Israeli government of the time supported this effort, given its alliance with Turkey). Who was Hizbullah ethnically cleansing in early July? In fact, it is the Israelis who have behaved in the past two weeks like Milosevic’s Serbian troops, who systematically attempted to displace the Kosovars during the war. And then the NATO estimate is that their campaign killed 5000 Serbian military personnel and at most 1500 civilians. Israel’s war has killed nearly 700 (maybe 900) civilians and many fewer Hizbullah fighters. So, the argument fails on all counts.
For the experience of a village in south Lebanon, see the web site of the village of Rashaya al-Fukhar.
The LA Times says, “Lebanese emergency agencies said 11 Lebanese died and 75 others were injured Saturday, bringing the official confirmed death toll in the country to 686, most of them civilians. Siniora claims the actual figure, because of the large number of people still buried under rubble, is more than 900.”
In the far south landwar front, Hizbullah said Saturday that its guerrillas had ambushed an Israeli contingent at the border village of Aita al-Shaab. Israel admitted that one of its soldiers was killed by mortar fire near that site, according to the LA Times.
Thousands of Israelis protested the war at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Among the Israeli politicians who spoke against it was Shulamit Aloni. I met her in Ann Arbor in the mid-1980s and immediately admired her. Bless her, that she is still at it.
Tens of thousands protested in London, Capetown, Cairo and elsewhere on Saturday. In Egypt, 2000 members of the Muslim Brotherhood denounced the US and Israel and demanded the government let them go join the fight as irregulars.
In Israel, Hizbullah rained rockets down again, and killed 3 persons, all Palestinian-Israelis. Although Hizbullah is said to have fired 3000 rockets at Israel since the war began, very few of them (5 percent?) have hit anything of importance. They have however killed over 30 civilians and wounded dozens more, and damaged some buildings. I think about a third of the civilian casualties have been Arab. Israel’s Palestinians tend to live in the north, in Haifa, Acre and the Galilee, so they are in the line of fire. Some readers question my repeated condemnation of Hizbullah for targeting civilian populations with its rockets. But the condemnation is much merited. What they are doing would be a war crime if they were a government. Since they aren’t even a government, just a party-militia, I think the charge should be even more severe.
The Israeli public is beginning to turn on its political elite for its prosecution of the war and for its inability so far to stop the rockets. The Washington Post reveals that even in territories actually controlled by Israeli troops in Lebanon, the number of rocket launches is still 50% of what it would be were there no Israeli troops there. That admission is quite astonishing. So far the Israeli army can only cut the attacks from 200 to 100, even when it actually occupies the territory from which the attacks are coming! Some 38 percent of Israelis believe “no one” is winning this war. You can say that again.