July 13, 2006

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.
This is the result of Israeli aggression for only one week in Gaza. In two days, Israel has killed nearly 50 Lebanese civilians, and nobody has defended their right to defend their people. Nothing, no human power in the world, appears to be willing nor able to stop the Israeli sponsored killing machine that plans to destroy everything in its path for the sake of a few occupying and murdering soldiers.

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At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop shooting rockets, stop carbombing, stop bus bombing, stop kidnapping and we'll get along fine.

One wonders if you honestly believe that this is how a 'free' Palestine will operate and whether you honestly believe that terrorism is a perfectly legitimate tool of your foreign policy. Most right thinking people would disagree but I'm afraid that even after half a century you don't get it.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Lillian said...

I just got back from a year of living in East Jerusalem while studying with the Israeli Defense Forces, and although I disagree--vehemently--with your stance on the conflict, your writing is helpful for those looking to understand one of the two sides to this story. I sure as hell hope they try to understand the Israeli side, as well.

Obviously, I'm sitting on the other side of the fence (no political joke intended). But hey, while my opinion is valid, so is yours. Here's hoping that one day we won't want to kill each other for it.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Lillian said...

And p.s.: enjoy your time in Jordan. I went twice while I was in Israel, and loved it. (Granted, I lied through my teeth about the whole Jewish, Israel, etc. motif, but it was great nonetheless.)

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Exiled Yerushalmi said...

You fail to note that the Hamas kidnapping operation came after Israel left the Gaza strip. The soldier was taken from the Israeli side of the border. Can you justify that kind of activity? It seems that it would be quite hard to condemn Israeli retaliation as well as its desire to have its kid returned home.

At 12:38 AM, Blogger Hamzeh N. said...

Yerushalmi, but see that doesn't really make sense. Of course peopel can justify Hamas' capture of Gilad Shalit. He's part of the Israeli occupation army which still occupies the West Bank and emposes illegal sanctions on the Gaza strip. I don't think people are stupid enough to really believe that simply withdrawing Israeli troops to outside Gaza means Gaza is now free; it's not.

And Israeli soldiers have been entering Gaza and kidnapping Palestinians on a daily basis. So the Palestinians in return are perfectly justified just as the Israelies are.

If Israel's extremely inhumane targetting of innocent civilians as a responce to the kidnapping of an occupation army soldier is justified, why weren't the Palestinians' targettings of innocent Israeli civilians as a responce to decades of Israeli occupation, killing and oppression justified as well?

At 8:00 AM, Blogger moi said...

Lillian Thank you for appreciating and respecting the different views on this conflict. I wonder, however, if you took time to look into the Palestinian side while you spent time in Israel. Glad you enjoyed your time in Jordan; I hope I will enjoy some time in Palestine one day.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Exiled Yerushalmi said...

hamzeh i suppose when u say that palestinian terrorist organizations send suicide bombers into israel they are merely targeting israelis who of course do not merit the title of innocent civilian.

secondly the olmert government had plans to withdraw from the rest of the west bank very shortly. of course Hamas has vowed to never accept any form of israeli existence so i guess even withdrawal from the west bank will l not satisfy them.

i still honestly dont see how the palestinian leadership desires anything other than blood and death.

At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oughta level every building that houses Hezbollah cockroaches. If that means 'collateral damage' all the better. Send every last one of them, their wives and children, straight to hell where they gargle boiling sulphur forever.

At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing, no human power in the world, appears to be willing nor able to stop the Israeli sponsored killing machine that plans to destroy everything in its path for the sake of a few occupying and murdering soldiers.

Didn't Israel unilaterally withdraw from Gaza? Didn't they even expel all the Jews from Gush Katif etc.?

A Jew-free Gaza has led to what? Qassam rockets fired at Sderot? check. The kidnapping of a 19 y.o physics student doing his IDF duty? check. The election of Hamas, which had admittedly sponsored suicide bombings? check.

The looting and rioting in Gaza have not been good signs. The unpaid government workers...not good either. The rockets were bad too. but the kidnapping— that was too far.


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