Israel and Lebanon: On the Brink of War
For almost three weeks now, Israeli Occupying Forces have been pounding the Gaza Strip after one of their own was taken prisoner by Palestinians defending their families and homes. For almost three weeks now, we have not seen any notable action from the Arab and Muslim world other than empty condemnations. At the same time, the US did not hesitate to defend Israel's barbaric actions and categorize them as "self-defense". Three weeks later, members of the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah have responded to cries of Palestinian women by killing eight Israeli soldiers and capturing two others. The result is not surprising: Israel has unleashed its forces of terror on the people of Lebanon as it has been doing to Gaza for weeks.
Israel's presence in Lebanon is well known, as it began with the 1982 invasion in which Israel sought to push back PLO forces that were threatening the northern Israeli border, and ended in 2000 as Israel withdrew its forces after intense resistance from Lebanese fighters, mainly Hezbollah. Since the withdrawal, Israel has continued to occupy a small portion of Lebanese territory referred to as the "Sheba'a Farms" which Hezbollah continuously attempts to reclaim.
In response to the continuing Israeli assault on Gaza which has left dozens of Palestinian men, women and children dead and injured, Hezbollah launched an attack on Israeli occupying forces, killing eight and capturing two others. The fact that a small resistance group was able to threaten one of the most powerful armies in the world is definitely an embarrassment for the latter. With its history of disproportionate firepower, Israel has not hesitated to pound the hell out of southern Lebanon and impose a ground, air, and sea blockade in an effort to isolate the Lebanese people from the outside world.
Some 47 Lebanese civilians--including at least two large families -- have been killed so far in a barrage of airstrikes and artillery, according to Lebanese television stations. News cameras filmed the charred, dismembered remains of one of the youngest victims, identified by a morgue official as a nine-month-old baby from the village of Dweir. (WP)On the blockade:
Early on Thursday morning, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the runways at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, shutting the airport and potentially stranding thousands of visitors at the peak of the tourism season. The Israeli military confirmed the strike, saying that the airport was a target because Hezbollah receives weapons shipments there. Israel also announced that its navy would blockade Lebanon’s ports to cut off such shipments. (NYT)The Bush administration of course reiterated the same line, accusing anyone of challenging Israel's occupation of terrorist activity. However, they stopped short of egging on the Israeli assault in order to save face in front of the rest of the world as they have been staunch supporters of the new "reform government" which is being threatened by this attack.
The United States called the attack a terrorist act, but officials appeared reluctant to see fighting wreck a country that has emerged as one of the success stories of Bush administration policy in the Middle East. At a news conference in Germany Thursday morning, President Bush said Israel has the right to defend itself and declared that Syria "needs to be held to account" for supporting and harboring Hezbollah.This is what the Israeli occupation has accomplished just over the past week in Gaza according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights:
- IOF kill 79 Palestinians, 76 of them in the Gaza Strip.
- 19 children, 2 women, and 3 handicapped are among the dead.
- University lecturer, his wife, and 7 of their children among the dead; a woman and 2 of her children among the dead.
- 266 Palestinians, including 63 children and 14 females, were wounded by the IOF.
- IOF conducted 47 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and reoccupied areas in the Gaza Strip.
- 67 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and a female, were arrested by IOF.
- IOF use Palestinian human shields during operations in the Gaza Strip, and takes over several civilian houses.
- 5 houses transformed by IOF into military sites.
- 6 charitable societies in the West Bank were raided by IOF.
- 250 families totaling nearly 2000 people flee their houses in Rafah and Beit Hanoun. UNRWA provides alternative shelters in its schools.
- IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT; IOF have imposed a tightened siege on the Gaza Strip; dozens of patients are stuck at Rafah International Crossing Point on the Egyptian border; IOF positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested 12 Palestinian civilians; IOF detained the Second Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council as he was attempting to travel through El-Karama Border Crossing with Jordan.
- IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall in the West Bank; IOF started confiscated 45 dunums of agricultural land in southern Hebron.
- In settler-related violence and crimes, a Palestinian house is set on fire in southern Hebron; and a settler road is renovated in the old city of Hebron.
[technorati tags: Israel, IDF, Lebanon, Gaza, Palestine, Hezbollah, Bush]