Friday, July 28, 2006

Massacre in Lebanon

Courtesy of brownfemipower: women of color blog

Why is the “war on terror” killing children?
by Robert Fisk

IT will be called the massacre of Marwaheen. All the
civilians killed by the Israelis had first been
ordered to abandon their homes in the border village
by loudspeaker; and leave they did, 20 of them in a
convoy of civilian cars.

That’s when the Israeli jets arrived to bomb them,
killing 20 Lebanese, at least nine of them children.
The local fire brigade could not put out the fires as
they all burned alive in the inferno. Another
“terrorist” target had been eliminated.

Later, the Israelis produced more “terrorist” targets
— petrol stations in the Bekaa Valley all the way up
to the frontier city of Hermel in northern Lebanon and
another series of bridges on one of the few escape
routes to Damascus, this time between Chtaura and the
border village of Masnaa. On day two, Israeli jets
came first to the little village of Dweir near
Nabatiya in southern Lebanon, where an Israeli plane
dropped a bomb on the home of a Shia Muslim cleric. He
was killed. So was his wife. So were eight of his
children. One was decapitated. All they could find of
a baby was its head and torso which a young villager
brandished in fury in front of the cameras. Then the
planes visited another home in Dweir and disposed of a
family of seven.

Lebanon, as usual, was paying the price for the
Hizbollah-Israeli conflict — as Hizbollah no doubt
calculated they would when they crossed the Israeli
frontier on Wednesday and captured two Israeli
soldiers close to Marwaheen.

But who is really winning the war? Not Lebanon, you
may say, with its more than 130 civilian dead and its
infrastructure steadily destroyed in hundreds of
Israeli air raids. But is Israel winning? Last week’s
missile attack on an Israeli warship off the coast of
Lebanon suggests otherwise. Four Israeli sailors were
killed, two of them hurled into the sea when a
tele-guided Iranian-made missile smashed into their
Hetz-class gunboat just off Beirut at dusk. Those
Lebanese who had endured the fire of Israeli gunboats
on the coastal highway over many years were elated.
They may not have liked Hizbollah - but they hated the

Only now, however, is a truer picture emerging of the
battle for southern Lebanon and it is a fascinating,
frightening tale. The original border crossing, the
capture of the two soldiers and the killing of three
others was planned, according to Hassan Nasrallah, the
Hizbollah leader who escaped assassination by the
Israelis last week, more than five months ago. And the
missile attack on the Israeli gunboat was not the
last-minute inspiration of a Hizbollah member who just
happened to see the warship.

It now appears clear that the Hizbollah leadership —
Nasrallah used to be the organisation’s military
commander in southern Lebanon — thought carefully
through the effects of their border crossing, relying
on the cruelty of Israel’s response to quell any
criticism of their action within Lebanon. They were
right in their planning. The Israeli retaliation was
even crueller than some Hizbollah leaders imagined,
and the Lebanese quickly silenced all criticism of the
guerrilla movement.

Hizbollah had presumed the Israelis would cross into
Lebanon after the capture of the two soldiers and they
blew up the first Israeli Merkava tank when it was
only 35 feet inside the country. All four Israeli
crewmen were killed and the Israeli army moved no
further forward. The long-range Iranian-made missiles
which later exploded on Haifa had been preceded only a
few weeks ago by a pilotless Hizbollah drone aircraft
which surveyed northern Israel and then returned to
land in eastern Lebanon after taking photographs
during its flight. These pictures not only suggested a
flight path for Hizbollah’s rockets to Haifa; they
also identified Israel’s top-secret military air
traffic control centre in Miron.

The next attack — concealed by Israel’s censors — was
directed at this facility. Codenamed “Apollo”, Israeli
military scientists work deep inside mountain caves
and bunkers at Miron, guarded by watchtowers,
guard-dogs and barbed wire, watching all air traffic
moving in and out of Beirut, Damascus, Amman and other
Arab cities. The mountain is surmounted by clusters of
antennae which Hizbollah quickly identified as a
military tracking centre.

Before they fired rockets at Haifa, they therefore
sent a cluster of missiles towards Miron. The caves
are untouchable but the targeting of such a secret
location by Hizbollah deeply shocked Israel’s military
planners. The “centre of world terror” — or whatever
they imagine Lebanon to be — could not only breach
their frontier and capture their soldiers but attack
the nerve-centre of the Israeli northern military

Then came the Haifa missiles and the attack on the
gunboat. It is now clear that this successful military
operation - so contemptuous of their enemy were the
Israelis that although their warship was equipped with
cannon and a Vulcan machine gun, they didn’t even
provide the vessel with an anti-missile capability —
was also planned months ago. Once the Hetz-class boats
appeared, Hizbollah positioned a missile crew on the
coast of west Beirut not far from Jnah, a crew trained
over many weeks for just such an attack. It took less
than 30 seconds for the Iranian-made missile to leave
Beirut and hit the vessel square amidships, setting it
on fire and killing the sailors.

Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizballah leader, told the
Israelis that “if you do not want to play by rules, we
can do the same.” It was a grim little threat that was
obviously meant to counter Ehud Olmert’s equally grim
little threat that there would be “far-reaching
consequences” for the missile attack on Haifa.

— By arrangement with The Independent

Anger in the Arab World

Rashid I. Khalidi in the nation

In what passes for analysis of the war involving Israel, Lebanon and Palestine in US and Israeli government circles, in the well-oiled PR machine that shills for them, and in much of the US media, we are told about a struggle against terrorism by a state under siege. The basic argument is that Israel is "responding to terrorist violence," and that the only real question is, How soon will Israeli force, backed by American determination, prevail? But this scenario has little to do with reality in the Middle East.

There will be no "destruction" of Hezbollah, and no "uprooting" of its infrastructure or that of Hamas, whatever the results of Israel's siege of Gaza and its merciless attacks against Lebanon. The rhetoric about "terrorism" has mesmerized those who parrot it, blinding them to the fact that Hezbollah and Hamas are deeply rooted popular movements that have developed as a response to occupation--of the West Bank and Gaza for nearly forty years, and of southern Lebanon from 1978 to 2000. Whatever one might say about the two movements' callousness in targeting civilians (a subject on which Israel's defenders are hardly in a position to preach), both have won impressive victories in elections and have provided social services and protection to their people.

The Lebanese government will not do Israel's bidding in south Lebanon. The deep divisions in Lebanon over Hezbollah's military presence before Israel's blitz began are rapidly disappearing. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri, Saad Hariri (son of assassinated Prime Minister Rafik Hariri), Gen. Michel Aoun, President Émile Lahoud and other major leaders of the country of all sects and all political persuasions and Lebanese public opinion have been horrified at Israel's ravaging of their country's infrastructure and its defenseless civilian population, yet again. Few indeed will be the Lebanese voices to support the Israeli-US position as this savaging of Lebanon goes on--and just because it is largely absent from US television does not mean that it is invisible to the rest of the world. (read more)