The Acts of the Democracies
The reason given for the attacks is because an Israeli soldier was kidnapped, even though Israel holds over 8,000 Paslestinians in prison (over 700 without charge), including 100 women and 800 teenagers. The soldier was part of a military force that has been besieging Palestinian territory since the election of the Hamas government. Under the Geneva Convention, the soldier has the status of prisoner of war.
Israel arrests Mohammed Barghouthi, the elected Palestinian labour minister. Nasser Shaer, the Palestinian deputy prime minister and education minister, is arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank. Other detainees include cabinet ministers like Finance Minister Omar Abdal Razeq, Social Affairs Minister Fakhri Torokma and Prisoners' Affairs Minister Wasfi Kabha. Ramallah and Jenin. In Jerusalem several lawmakers are arrested. The Mayor of Qalqiliya and his deputy are detained. The detainees include eight members of the elected government and 20 members of parliament.
European ministers at an economic (G8) meeting declare that "The detention of elected members of the Palestinian government and legislature raises particular concerns." Lama Hourani, an NGO worker in Gaza City says: "It makes me so angry that Israel has arrested Hamas politicians. Hamas was the Palestinians' democratic choice, whether people like it or not. Why isn't the world saying anything about this? We are the ones being occupied yet all we hear from the West is that Israel has the right to defend itself."
Israeli tanks and bulldozers move into parts of Gaza. Jets fly low over cities and towns causing sonic booms. In one house, the boom brough down the roof onto a family. Missiles are fired onto the Palestinian city of Khan Younis. The Interior Ministry is attacked by Apache helicopters. Israel blocks supplies of water, fuel and other supplies to Gaza. International agencies can do nothing.
The USA and Europe predictably call for "restraint on both sides". The Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accuses Israel of "waging an open-ended all-out war against the Palestinian people that aims to topple the Palestinian presidency and the Palestinian government".
The USA and UK media report these events from an Israeli point of view failing to mention that collective punishment is a war crime. The main story appeared to be the kidnapped Israeli soldier which was mentioned by every Israeli spokesperson. What was not mentioned was the fact that a few days earlier, Israeli commandos had entered Gaza and kidnapped two Palestinians whom they accused of being "militants". The BBC correspondent in Gaza, Alan Johnstone, referred to the Palestinian kidnap as "a major escalation in cross-border tensions". According to the media watchers, MediaLens: "Johnstone did not explain why the Palestinian attack on an Israeli army post was an escalation, while the Israeli raid into Gaza the previous day was not. Both were similar actions: violations of a neighbour's territory."
22 Palestinians are killed and many injured in Beit Lahiya (northern Gaza) after a night of Israeli air strikes, artillery and tank fire. The dead included a civilian killed by machine-gun fire from an Israeli tank. More Palestinian elected leaders are detained by Israeli police.
In Geneva (Swizerland), the United Nations human rights watchdog passed an emergency resolution criticising Israel's campaign in Gaza as a breach of international law and demanding a halt to military activity. John Dugard, a United Nations special rapporteur on human rights stated that Israel's "military operation violated prohibitions on collective punishment, intimidation, while last week's arrest of officials from the governing Hamas movement appeared to constitute hostage-taking that was prohibited by the Geneva Conventions".
The Council urged "Israel, the occupying power, to immediately release the arrested Palestinian ministers... and all other arrested Palestinian civilians". The UK, France and Germany, who all concern themselves with human rights violations by countries being threatened by the USA, abstained.
Discussing the shelling and overflying jets on Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert tells his cabinet that he wanted "no one to be able to sleep tonight in Gaza".
The collective punishment of 1.4 million Palestinians is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention but this was unmentioned in most Western media reports. The Israeli human rights organization B�Tselem specifically criticises the statement, saying that, "The use of sonic booms flagrantly breaches a number of provisions of international humanitarian law. The most significant provision is the prohibition on collective punishment. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention".
Eight Palestinians are killed by air strikes including an 11 year old boy near Beit Hanun. A missile strikes the Hajaj family home killing three people including a six year old girl.
Kofi Annan, the Secretary of the United Nations calls on Israel to stop attacking Palestinians and to repair the damage it has caused to Gaza's power stations and to allow uninpeded access to the territories for humanitarian aid.
A couple and their seven children die in an Israeli air strike on Gaza bringing the number of Palestinians killed to 60 in two weeks. The family's house was hit by a 250kg (550-pound) bomb dropped by an F-16 jet. These jets are supplied by the USA and contain spare parts provided by the UK.
Two more Israeli soldiers are kidnapped, this time from border with Lebanon. The Israeli response is to bomb the south of the country, killing 35 people in a little over a day. The victims include two whole families - one of 10 people and one of seven - killed in the homes near the town of Nabatiyeh. The airport in Beirut is bombed along with as bridges, roads and a television station (Al-Manar). The country's ports are blockaded.
In late 2001 (after the USA attack on Afghanstan) a retired USA General, Wesley Clark, wrote in his book, Winning Modern Wars, that the USA was planning to attack Lebanon as part of a five year campaign targeting seven countries beginning with Iraq, then going on to Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.
The USA blames Syria and Iran - two countries whose governments are not financed or supported by the USA. France and Russia condemn Israel's "disproportionate use of force", although Russia has used the same tactics in Chechnya. The European Union declares that "the imposition of an air and sea blockade on Lebanon cannot be justified".
The Egyptian Foreign Minister states that "targeting civilians under the pretext of fighting terrorism is unacceptable and unjustified. Israeli practices violate international law. We condemn any military action that targets civilians. We consider it a terrorist act, regardless of who the civilians are or its source".
After an exchange of fire along the border, Israel orders people in Beirut's southern suburbs to evacuate.
The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution demanding Israel end its military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The USA was the only country to vote against the resolution put forward by Qatar on behalf of Arab nations. The resolution accused Israel of a "disproportionate use of force" that endangered Palestinian civilians, and demanded Israel withdraw its troops from Gaza. Eight of the previous nine vetoes have been used by the USA. Seven of those concerned the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Ten of the 15 Security Council nations voted in favour and four, UK, Denmark, Slovakia and Peru, abstained. In the first three months of 2006 the UK had sold $ 50 million worth of arms to Israel including electronic parts used in the F-16 planes that are attacking civilians.
Journalist Sandy Tolan wrote this about the Israeli actions against the Palestinians:
"Under the pretext of forcing the release of a single soldier 'kidnapped by terrorists' (or, if you prefer, 'captured by the resistance'), Israel has done the following: seized members of a democratically elected government; bombed its interior ministry, the prime minister's offices, and a school; threatened another sovereign state (Syria) with a menacing overflight; dropped leaflets from the air, warning of harm to the civilian population if it does not 'follow all orders of the IDF' (Israel Defense Forces); loosed nocturnal 'sound bombs' under orders from the Israeli prime minister to 'make sure no one sleeps at night in Gaza'; fired missiles into residential areas, killing children; and demolished a power station that was the sole generator of electricity and running water for hundreds of thousands of Gazans.
Besieged Palestinian families, trapped in a locked-up Gaza, are in many cases down to one meal a day, eaten in candlelight. Yet their desperate conditions go largely ignored by a world accustomed to extreme Israeli measures in the name of security: nearly 10,000 Palestinians locked in Israeli jails, many without charge; 4,000 Gaza and West Bank homes demolished since 2000 and hundreds of acres of olive groves plowed under; three times as many civilians killed as in Israel, many due to 'collateral damage' in operations involving the assassination of suspected militants.
Jacques Chirac, the President of France asks: "Israel's military offensive against Lebanon is totally disproportionate. Is destroying Lebanon the ultimate goal? One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, and its communication."
Israel fires rockets along the Lebanon-Syrian border and also hits the centre of Beirut (the port, a grain store, a radar station and a lighthouse) as well as its suburbs. By the fourth day of the attack, over 100 Lebanese had died (including over 20 children), compared to four Israelis killed by rockets fired my militia based in southern Lebanon. Warplanes strike the port city of Tripoli, the coastal city of Batroun, the mainly Christian city of Jounieh and the historical town of Baalbek.
Women and children were among at least 18 killed when their vehicles were struck by missiles on the coastal road to the southern city of Tyre. "Bodies litter the road", an eyewitness said. Local residents told al-Jazeera television that the victims had been hit after being told to leave the village of Marwahin by the Israelis and then refused shelter by the United Nations forces. Many of the victims were burnt to death.
|More dead children.|
A number of bridges (one built by European Union money), petrol stations and key roads are also hit, including the main road linking northern Lebanon to Syria.
On the same day Israeli forces enter northern Gaza in the area of the town of Beit Hanoun. Israeli air strikes hit a house in Gaza City, killing one person and injuring eight, mostly women and children, the youngest an eight month-old baby. Twenty homes are damaged or destroyed. the death toll in Gaza reaches 80 Palestinians.
The Arab League issues a statement that "condemns the Israeli aggression in Lebanon which contradicts all international law and regulations". Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, criticises the Israeli offensive and the lack of reaction from the international community. "Bombs are exploding, innocent people are being killed, infrastructures are being destroyed... The powerful continue to crush the weak, but unfortunately those who hold the power in the world are keeping mum."
A letter is published in the UK newspaper, the Indpependent which brings together a number of issues:
"In 2003, much to the embarassment of the European Union, a poll found that many Europeans consider Israel the biggest threat to Middle East peace. The totally disproportionate response by Israel to the capture of its soldiers shows the truth of that poll. A country which destroys the civil infrastructure of life for more than a million Gazeans while proceeding to attampt to 'bomb back Lebanon by 20 years' shows itself to have all the features of a dangerous, erratic rogue state. Instead of constructing fantasies around an Iranian threat, the international community must face up to the fact that it has an aggressive, nuclear-armed state which is rampaging throughout the region without sanction."
Thousands of protesters in Jakarta (Indonesia) to condemn the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.
Lebanon accuses the USA of blocking a United Nations Security Council statement calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, and said the impotence of the United Nation's most powerful body sent wrong signals to small countries. According to Nouhad Mahmoud, the Lebanese special envoy, "It's unacceptable because people are still under shelling, bombardment and destruction is going on ... and people are dying. It sends very wrong signals not only to the Lebanese people but to all Arab people, to all small nations that we are left to the might of Israel and nobody is doing anything".
Qatar wanted a press statement calling for an immediate ceasefire, restraint in the use of force, and the protection of civilians caught in the conflict. Cesar Mayoral, the United Nations ambassador from Argentina, said the USA objected to any statement and the UK opposed calling for a ceasefire. During the same period, the United Nations did pass a resolution: condemning Iran's nuclear program.
On the 6th day 46 Lebanese are killed bringing the total to over 200. Twenty Israelis are killed in the same period, including 12 soldiers. Ten die in an air attack on their vehicles in the south of the country.
400,000 people are displaced from their homes. Residential areas are targeted as well as ports and the Lebanese army. Nine people including six children are killed in Tyre. In Rmeileh a minibus is hit killing 12 civilians.
Nine bodies are found in rubble in Saida. Two hospitals are bombed in Beirut, a fact not reported in the Western media. Israel rebuffs a United Nations call for an international monitoring force to be deployed in Lebanon.
Abdul Rahman, a teacher from the USA who was on a vacation to Beirut, states: "Everything is being bombed, it's terror. We've literally been terrorised. We have not slept for three days because we were living in terror and never knew when the Israelis would bomb us since they were hitting everything. If they want to hit Hezbollah, let them hit Hezbollah, but not the civilians. But civilians are all that they are hitting."
In Gaza tanks and bulldozers enter the town of Beit Hanun killing several people including a 75 year old woman. The death toll reaches 82 Palestinians (and one Israeli).
Israel continues attacking Gaza killing two people and destroying the Foreign Ministry. Walid al-Umari, a journalist for Al-Jazeera based in Jerusalem is arrested and questioned by police.
The Uinted Nations warns of a humanitarian disaster as Lebanese flee their homes, with air strikes on roads and bridges hampering efforts to help them. By the 7th day over 230 Lebanese have died, compared to 25 Israelis. The Lebanese army was ordered not to respond to the Israeli attacks but 30 Lebanese soldiers died in several strikes. Hizbolla, a Lebanese militia army, fires hundreds of rockets into Israel. The Western media blames Iran and Syria for the deaths caused by these rockets as they were made in these countries (as well as in Russia which is not blamed). The F-16 jets, Apache helicopters and missiles used on Arab civilians in Gaza and Lebanon are made in the USA and contain electrical components from the UK, a fact not mentioned in any Western newscasts.
According to the UK BBC, the Lebannese people feel "great disappointment here that the world's leading industrial nations at the G8 summit failed to call for a ceasefire. Many see it as a capitulation to the agenda of Israel and the United States." The UK and USA begin evacuating their citizens.
Nine civilians, all from one family and including children, are killed and four wounded in an air strike that destroyed a house in the south Lebanese village of Aitarun. Israeli forces attack targets around Zahle, a mainly Christian town in central Lebanon, and attack ambulances on nearby roads. A lorry carrying medical supplies donated by the United Arab Emirates is hit on a main highway killing its driver. 64 bridges have been destroyed.
The UK newspaper, The Independent reporting an Israeli attack that "came first to the little village of Dweir near Nabatiya in southern Lebanon where an Israeli plane dropped a bomb on to 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."
Day 7 and the Lebanese death toll exceeds 300 (to 29 Israelis).
Jonathan Cook, a journalist based in northern Israel writes how the Arabic television coverage shows the material and human devastation in Lebanon in a way that is not covered by the BBC (UK), CNN or Fox (USA). He says that Arabic television channels ".. showed an urban wasteland of rubble and dust in the suburbs of Beirut and Tyre that was shockingly reminiscent of New York in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 attacks. They cut intermittently to local hospitals filled with Lebanese children, their faces a rash of bloody pockmarks from the spray of Israeli shrapnel. More terrible images of children burnt and lying in pools of blood arrrived in my email inbox from Lebanese bloggers."
He continues that "this is not journalism; it�s reporting as a propaganda arm of a foreign power." He does not necessarily blame the reporters but concludes, "These reporters are working in a framework of news priorities laid down by faceless news executives far away from the frontline who understand only too well the institutional pressures on the BBC -- and the institutional biases that are the result. They know that the Israel lobby is too powerful and well resourced to take on without suffering flak; that the charge of anti-semitism might be terminally damaging to the BBC�s reputation; that the BBC is expected broadly to reflect the positions of the British governmment if it wants an easy ride with its regulators; that to remain credible it should not stray too far from the line of its mainly American rivals, who have their own more intense domestic pressures to side with Israel. This distortion of news priorities has real costs that can be measured in lives -- in the days and weeks to come, hundreds, possibly thousands, of lives in both Israel and Lebanon. As long as Israel is portrayed by our major broadcasters as the one under attack, its deaths alone as significant, then the slide to a regional war -- a war of choice being waged by the Israeli government and army -- is likely to become inevitable."
War crimes may have been committed in Lebanon and Gaza according to the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour: "I do believe that on the basis of evidence that is available in the public domain there are very serious concerns that the level of civilian casualties, the indiscriminate shelling of cities and so on, on their face raise sufficient questions that I think one must issue a sobering signal to those who are behind these initiatives to examine very closely their personal exposure."
Israel says that the reason for the attacks on Lebanon is the rockets being fired into Israel by Hezbollah even though these began after the Israeli bombings. Another unreported fact: Israel has refused to submit a map of the 400,000 land mines that it deliberately left in South Lebanon during its occupation. These mines regularly kill Lebanese people, mainly children.
In the USA, Martin Fletcher, Israel correspondent from NBC Television, reveals that the Israeli war plan is not simply a response to current risks or attacks, but it has been five years in the making. It was a plan just looking for a pretext. "I think they will never say that publicly," he added, explaining that this war plan that was not made by this current Israeli government but earlier by the Kadima Party founder, Ariel Sharon and his generals.
Fletcher says the Israeli government calls it a "work plan." He says it is being implemented "step by step." He added, "It will go on until someone steps in and stops them."
After 10 days the death tolls are 330 Lebanese (a third of them children), 100 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.
One observer notes that foreigners were being evacuated from Lebanon but not from Israel which told of how one sided the conflict was. The BBC spend more time on Britons being evacuated than on the war in Lebanon.
One fact observed by journalist, Ramzy Baroud: "Palestinians rockets, as ominous as they may appear on television, are yet to claim one Israeli casualty for over a year, while the Israeli military has killed over 150 Palestinians in the last two months alone."
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other anti-war movemenst criticised the lies of the USA and UK: "The promise by Bush and Blair, in the lead up to the Iraq war, that their wars would bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East and peace to Palestine have yet again been shown to be lies, just as the anti-war movement has consistently said they were."The Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik was completely wrecked. A resident, Ihsan Mroweh, a civil engineer, described his feelings at finding his home destroyed: "I counted the flattened buildings one by one, and the third was mine. It was also reduced to rubble. My wife and I have so many memories in this house. Losing my property is terrible, but what hurts even more is losing all the pictures of my children and their belongings since they were little." As Israeli Brigadier General Halutz put it: "Nowhere is safe [in Lebanon] ... as simple as that."
Rockets fired into Israel hit the mainly Arab town of Nazareth. The BBC inadvertantly reveal the discrimination against the non-Jewish population of Israel: the inhabitants had no bomb shelters. As journalist Jonathan Cook puts it: "The fifth of the Israeli population who are not Jewish but Arab are rarely to be found hiding in public shelters because the authorities neglected to build any in their towns and villages. The Israeli army has sited several important weapons factories and military intelligence posts close to Arab communities in the north, the Israeli government has not offered the Arab residents any protection should there be fall-out -- quite literally in the case of the Katyusha rockets -- as a result. This is another tiny facet of the discrimination endured for decades by the country�s Arab population that so rarely surfaces in media coverage of Israel."
Over 60 elected Palestinian parliamentarians languish in Israeli jails.
On day 11 the USA ships "precision guided bombs" to Israel without debate or fanfare (The New York Times).
The munitions that are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved the previous year that Israel is able to draw on as needed. The arms shipment to Israel was not announced publicly, and the officials who described the government�s decision would discuss it only after being promised anonymity. The USA flight (an Airbus A310) carrying the weapons used an airport in Scotland (UK) while in transit. The UK criticises Israel's tactics (but not the attack itself) but does not call for a cease fire. Israeli officials admitted dropping 23 tons of explosives on Beirut in one night.
People demonstrate against the war in several countries. The USA Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, describes the plight of Lebanon as a part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.
According to political scientist, Gilbert Achcar, the USA's support of Israel is leading to people in the Middle Eastern becoming skeptical of Western promises of democracy: "what we are seeing right now is that the hatred toward not only Israel but the United States, and all the other Western countries backing Israel and allying with the United States, is reaching heights which are far beyond what existed before September 11, 2001."
Israeli forces cross into Lebanon and take the village of Maroun al-Ras. Television and mobile phone transmitters are hit in Beirut. Aljazeera and Al Arabiya television stations are targetted.
In 2000, Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon after an 18 year occupation. They had used a proxy militia (The South Lebanese Army) to control the area. This milita had tortured Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in Khiam Prison. Hezbollah had converted the prison into a museum after Israel's departure. This building is bombed by Israel erasing the evidence.
By day 12 the death toll had reached 372 Lebanese and 34 Israelis. More Israeli bombs fell on the cities of Sidon and Tyre.
Dead bodies litter the streets of Beirut.
The remains of a woman killed in Tyre.
72 coffins of victims in Tyre from one single air raid.
In the first 13 days, Israel attacked key civilian installations, including water and sanitation systems, destroyed Lebanon's largest dairy farm and pharmeceutical plant, shelled United Nations posts sheltering civilians, flattened whole villages, and turned mosques, churches and houses into rubble.
They cut off roads and bridges, blocking urgently needed humanitarian assistance. 365 people were killed, a third of them children. Jan Egeland, the United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator, accuses Israel of violating humanitarian law as he toured the destroyed suburbs of south Beirut: "This is destruction of block after block of mainly residential areas. I would say it seems to be an excessive use of force in an area with so many citizens."
In the village of Srifa, near Tyre, 60 to 80 bodies remain trapped in the rubble of a building, according to the Red Cross.
The USA organisation, Human Rights Watch, reported that it had taken photographs of M483A1 cluster grenades stored by Israeli artillery teams on the border between Israel and Lebanon. These grenades deliver 88 cluster submunitions per shell and have a failure rate of 14 per cent, often leaving behind dangerous unexploded shells. It said it believed the use of cluster grenades in populated areas could violate a ban on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law. A cluster grenade attack a few days earlier had killed one person and wounded at least 12 civilians in the village of Blida. Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, said: "Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians. They should never be used in populated areas."
On the 14th day, 800,000 Lebanese had been displaced. Medicine Sans Frontier, an aid organisation, have not been able to obtain Israel permission to bring aid to south Lebanon.
An Israeli shell destroys a United Nations observation post in Khiam (southern Lebanon) killing four observers. The peacekeepers had contacted Israeli troops ten times before an Israeli "precision" missile was fired from a jet and destroyed the post after six hours of artillery shelling. The United Nations expresses "shock" in a statement watered down by the USA. Phrases criticising Israel or calling for the United Nations to be involved in any enquiry were removed after pressure from the USA.
USA Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice visits the region. The BBC World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, in Jerusalem, stated that it was understood that Condoleezza Rice told Israel that the USA would allow it more time to continue its military operations. Ismail Haniya, the elected Prime Minster of the Palestinians makes a plea to the USA: "All that we ask the American administration is to take a moral stance towards the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian suffering and to bear its responsibility as a superpower in this world."
The USA refuses to talk to him.
In Gaza, Israeli artillery pound the northern town of Beit Lahiya, killing six Palestinians, all civilians. Three of those killed are children. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a four storey building in the Shajaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City. A strike is organised against the visit of Condoleezza Rice: "Rice is responsible for the killing of children in Lebanon and Gaza. She, her administration, and her policies are not welcome here."
Southeast Asian nations call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East and condemn Israel's "excessive" military operations in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.
On 21 July 2006, the USA newspaper, San Francisco Chronicle, publishes a report by Matthew Kalman called Israel Set War Plan More Than a Year Ago. This report describes Israel's intent to carry a three-week bombardment of Lebanon as early as 2000.
On day 15, the death toll had reached 422 in Lebanon (375 civilians) while in Israel it was 42 (18 civilians). 121 people had died in Gaza. 600,000 people become refugees in Lebanon.
After two weeks, the Islamic terrorist group, Al-Quaida, make a statement threatening Israel and all countries who support Israel in its attack on Muslims:
"As they attack us everywhere, we will attack them everywhere. As they have joined forces to fight us, our nation will unite to fight them. The shells and rockets which are tearing the bodies of Muslims in Gaza and Lebanon are not purely Israeli. They are produced and financed by all the countries of the Crusader alliance. Therefore, all those who have taken part in the crime must pay the price. We cannot just watch these shells as they pour wrath on our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon and sit back in submission."
According to journalist, Robert Fisk, Israel attacked several ambulances in southern Lebanon, their missiles entering the vehicles in the centre of the large red cross on the roof. Several injured people were killed.
Israel bombs the border crossing between Lebanon and Syria, used by refugees to escape the fighting. Israeli missiles injure two more United Nations observers. The United Nations reports that up to 600 Lebanese people had died by the 18th day, a third of them children. The number of people injured reaches 3220 while nearly 800,000 are displaced. A mother and her five children are killed in Israeli air raids in southern Lebanon. The death toll in Israel reaches 51. In Gaza, 145 Palestinians were dead, and one Israeli soldier.
Eight bodies were found on the roads of southern Lebanon. The eight dead included a couple and their three children found in their car which had been destroyed by an Israeli missile near the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.
30,000 tonnes of oil flooded into the sea affecting 100km of coastline after an earlier air strike on a power plant by Israeli jets. Stavros Dimas, the European Union Environment Commissioner, said: "Wars do cause enormous human suffering as we are witnessing now in Lebanon. But another aspect is also the significant environmental destruction caused by it. [The spill] could affect the livelihood and health of the Lebanese and people in neighbouring countries as well as the status of the marine environment in the region." The type of oil spilled contains benzene which is categorized as a Class 1 carcinogen.
The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora, says that if Israel wants secure borders it must withdraw from the Shebaa Farms area that it has occupied since 1967. This has been a long standing Lebanese grievance unreported in the Western media. According the United Nations the Shebaa Farms are Syrian territory captured by Israeli in the 1967 war. Lebanon also wants maps of land mines planted by Israel in southern Lebanon during its occupation and the freeing of Lebanese detainees held in Israeli prisons.
Between 2001 and 2005, Israel received $ 10,500 million military aid from the USA and $ 6,300 million in arms deliveries. Israel is the largest recipient of USA military assistance. Many of these weapons are being used to attack civilian vehicles containing families fleeing the fighting in Lebanon - often at Israel's command. Bilal Masri, assistant director of the Beirut Government University Hospital, told journalist Dahr Jamail: "The Israelis are using new kinds of bombs, and these bombs can penetrate bomb shelters. They are bombing the refugees in the bomb shelters!" He also reported that the Lebanese Ministry of Interior has confirmed the Israelis have used white phosphorous gas which is an incendary weapon. This is a chemical weapon, much like napalm (used by the USA in Vietnam), that can burn right down to the bone. The USA military also used white phosphorous in Fallujah (Iraq).
Article 35 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions prohibits the use of weapons "of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering." Cluster bombs and white phosphorous fall into this category. Masri also reported that 55% of the casualties in Lebanon are children under 15 years of age.
Dr. Bachir el-Sham, of the Complex Hospital in Sidon estimates that an average of 40 civilians are being killed by Israeli air strikes each day. The figure was calculated by coordinating casualty figures with other hospitals and clinics in the south. This figure is higher than official counts because "so many people are buried in the rubble". Large numbers of civilian apartment buildings were bombed to the ground, many with entire families in them. Ghadeer Shayto, a 15 year old girl injured by an Israeli rocket attack while leaving the village of Kafra said she had seen many dead on her way to Beirut: "On our way out, we passed so many civilian cars which had burnt bodies in them. They were burnt, and left there because nobody could come to take the bodies away." The bus in which she was travelling was displaying white flags when it was hit by a rocket. "My brother and cousin were killed, and the rest of us are wounded."
Israel states that it will not stop its attacks on Lebanon until United Nations resolution 1559 is implemented. This calls for the disarming of the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. Israel has avoided complying with United Nations resolution 242 since 1967. This calls for its withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights. Instead of withdrawing, Israel has continued to occupy or annexe these territories and build illegal settlements (colonies) on them.
In Gaza, the Israeli military takes up a new tactic of telephoning people before dropping bombs on their homes. Omar Al Mamluk, an officer from the Palestinian security forces, became a victim when he picked up his telephone: "Is that Omar Al Mamluk? This is the Israeli army. You have only a few minutes to leave your house." The story continues: "It was Monday night, about 10.30 in the evening. I received a call with the number of the caller hidden. I thought it was a prank by one of my mates. I asked: 'Are you joking?' and got the reply: 'The Israeli army doesn't make jokes.' Then the caller hung up."
Mamluk evacuated his house. "They hit 25 minutes later. I'd expected an Apache (attack helicopter) but not an F-16 fighter jet." All that is left of Mamluk's house in Gaza City is a pile of rubble. 22 people were made homeless by a tactic that would be called ethnic cleansing if it occurred anywhere else.
On day 19, 54 civilians, at least 34 of them children, are killed while sheltering in the basement of a house in Qana which was crushed after a direct hit. In 1996 an Israeli attack on Qana killed 106 people, mostly women and children. Hundreds of Lebanese protesters stage a violent demonstration, ransacking the United Nations headquarters in Beirut, chanting slogans against the USA and Israel and in support of the Hezbollah militants. Jim Muir, the correspondant for the BBC reported that many of the rescuers, experienced as they were, the emotional impact of finding so many dead children in the ruins was too much. "As I arrived, they were carrying out on a stretcher the limp body of a young boy of about 10. Many other children were pulled out of the rubble lifeless. That's a Red Cross rescue worker sitting here in the sunshine just sobbing - he's so overcome with emotion here."
Bashal al-Assad, the President of Syria, condemned the attacks: "The massacre committed by Israel in Qana this morning shows the barbarity of this aggressive entity. It constitutes state terrorism committed in front of the eyes and ears of the world," King Abdullah of Jordan also condemned the attack and called for an immediate ceasefire: "This criminal aggression is an ugly crime that has been committed by the Israeli forces in the city of Qana that is a gross violation of all international statutes." Hamid Reza Asefi, a foreign ministry spokesman in Iran opined "I think Israeli officials and some American ones should be tried for these sorts of crimes." Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt: "The Arab Republic of Egypt is highly disturbed and condemns the irresponsible Israeli attack on the Lebanese village of Qana, which led to the loss of innocent victims, most of which were women and children."
The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora denounces Israel's "heinous crimes against civilians" and calls for an "immediate, unconditional ceasefire", praising Hezbollah militants who were "sacrificing their lives for Lebanon's independence".
The UK allows six USA planes to use UK airports.
The planes were carrying munitions and guidance systems for Israel. The cargo included 100 GBU 28 "bunker buster" bombs containing depleted uranium warheads. If used these will produce radioactive dust which will endanger the population. These types of weapons are being used in Iraq by the USA. Dr Doug Rokke, former Director of the USA Army's Depleted Uranium Project writes:
"The use of uranium weapons is absolutely unacceptable, and a crime against humanity. Consequently the citizens of the world and all governments must force cessation of uranium weapons use."
On day 22, the death toll stands at 508 Lebanese civilians (45% children), 46 Hizbollah fighters, 26 lebanese soldiers, 36 Israeli soldiers, 19 Israeli civilians. Between 800,000 and 900,000 Lebanese civilians have been displaced, over a third of them children.
In late July Associated Press (AP) reports that Lebanese doctors in Tyre were treating patients who were suffering from burns caused by phosphorous incendiary weapons used by Israel. The AP report indicated that the Geneva Conventions prohibit the use of "white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas." Researchers from Human Rights Watch reports that Israel used cluster munitions in the village of Blida. The munitions are M483A1 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions which are made and supplied to Israel by the USA.
Both Lebanese and Palestinians have received messages from Israel warning them to leave as their homes will be destroyed. In Lebanon, fleeing families are often targetted.
According to the USA newspaper, the New York Times (26 July 2006), Israeli sources have conceded that preparations for this war began in 2000, after Israel's forced withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
It was finalized in 2004 after which Israel's plans were shown to USA officials. "More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to USA and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail."
In a revealing interview on the television station, al Jazeera, (24 July 2006), the Israeli director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies, Efraim Inbar, describes Israeli objectives as designed "to remove the missile threat to Israel, to push Hezbollah out of South Lebanon and to try to damage its military capacity as much as possible."
Inbar also indicated, "I advocate attacking Syria", adding that he was uncertain as to whether the Israeli government shared his views. He then added, "we're more likely to leave the Iranians to the Americans - for now".
His response to the question concerning Israel's conditions for a ceasefire serve to underline Israel's relationship with the USA. "Basically, the minimum conditions are the same as Israel's goals. But the US will decide when enough is enough and Israel will do what is acceptable to them." The UK newspaper, The Guardian confirmed that the USA "had given Israel a green light to continue bombing Lebanon until it believes Hezbullah's infrastructure has been destroyed."
The USA and UK media emphasise that Iran and Syria are supplying Hizbollah with weapons and political support while ignoring the far larger supplies of USA arms to Israel. The F-16 jets that have killed hundreds of Lebaneese children and are used to terrorise the population of Gaza are produced by two USA companies Lockheed Martin Corporation and Boeing Corporation.
28 farm workers are killed by an Israeli air strike in the Bekaa Valley.
Adel Safty, an international law spokesman for the United Nations writes:
"Whoever dares to challenge the imposition of imperial will is labelled terrorist or supporter of terrorism and war against them is rationalised with little or no regard to international law or the United Nations. Needless to say, this privilege of using massive violence pre-emptively is reserved only to the Empire, and its closest allies. Others must be held to the usual standards of accountability within the framework of international law and the United Nations. This double standard and disregard for law and conventions, arrogantly illustrated by the Anglo-American support for the Israeli use of force, encouraged Israel�s blatant disregard for the international community�s condemnations of its bloody conduct of the war."
According to the Israeli newspaper, Jerusalem Post (17 July), Assaf Shariv, media adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israelis have been interviewed by the foreign press four times as much as spokespeople for the Palestinians and Lebanese. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Gideon Meir, added: "We have never had it so good. The hasbara [propaganda] effort is a well-oiled machine."
In August anti-Israel and anti-USA demonstrations occur around the world: India, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Mexico, Jordan, Pakistan, occupied Iraq, Iran (anti UK), Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia (where dissent is nornally banned), Syria, Egypt, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, USA, Canada, Israel (attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's daughter) and the UK.
The media continues to blame Hizbollah's cross border raid for the Israeli bombing even though according to United Nations monitors: "Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored 'blue line' on an almost daily basis. Israeli warplanes routinely violate Lebanese airspace, often intentionally flying low over cities so as to create sonic booms that terrify the population. Overflights by jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles or drones were numerous and particularly intrusive and provocative." The incursions by Israel were sometimes resisted by Hizbollah and continued despite United Nations protests.
The Palestinian cabinet (which is short of cash after having its funds cut by Israel, the USA and Europe) makes a donation to Lebanese refugees.
Israeli forces detain Aziz Dweik, the Speaker of the Palestinian parliament, at his home in the West Bank. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya condemns the action: "We urge all Arab and international parliamentarians to condemn and denounce this crime and to secure the release of Aziz Dweik and all jailed ministers and lawmakers." Israel detained eight members of the democratically elected government and 30 members of parliament. Palestinians have called the detentions an act of war.
In a 24 hour period, Israeli attacks against villages in southern and eastern Lebanon kill 60 people. The village of Haret Hreik, the region of Baalbek and suburbs of Beirut continue to be pounded. Seven members of one family are killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in the village of Ghazzaniyeh. 14 civilians die when an Israeli bombardment struck buildings in Ghaziyeh.
After four weeks more than 1,000 Lebanese - mostly civilians - have died; 99 Israelis were killed including 63 soldiers. 6,900 Lebanese homes have been destroyed by early August compared to 300 in Israel.
Israel justifies its attacks on civilians by blaming Hizbollah saying it uses civilians as cover. According to the USA organisation, Human Rights Watch: "The Israeli government claims that it targets only Hezbollah, and that fighters from the group are using civilians as human shields, thereby placing them at risk. Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack. Hezbollah occasionally did store weapons in or near civilian homes and fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers, which are serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. However, those cases do not justify the IDF's extensive use of indiscriminate force which has cost so many civilian lives. In none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in this report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack."
The United Nations draft a resolution that calls on Hizbollah to disarm while Israel can continue "operations" in Lebanon. The resolution is designed by Israel, the USA (which arms Israel) and France (the former coloniser of Lebanon which has allies among the Christian population). Even though Israel has violated the Lebanese border more often than Hizbollah, a buffer force is to be placed totally on Lebanese territory. All of Israel's requirements but none of Lebanons's are included. The idea is to impose conditions that Lebanon cannot accept and then blame it for the continuing conflict. Israel�s ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, informed the BBC that if Hizbullah fired at Tel Aviv this would be tantamount to an "act of war" that could only have been ordered by Iran. By this statement Israel may be joining the USA in preparing the ground for an attack on Iran. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, told the Hebrew language newspapers in Israel: �Our enemy is not Hezbollah, but Iran, which employs Hezbollah as its agent.�
According to journalist, Jonathan Cook: "Those real causes of hostilities will be ignored as more, mostly Lebanese, civilians die, and Israel and the US expand the theatre of war. Instead we will hear much of the rockets that are still landing in northern Israel and how they have been supplied by Iran. The fact that Hizbullah attacks followed rather precipitated Israel�s massive bombardment of Lebanon will be forgotten. Rockets fired by Hizbullah to stop Israeli aggression against Lebanon will be retold as an Iranian-inspired war to destroy the Jewish state. The nuclear-armed Goliath of Israel will, once again, be transformed into a plucky little David. Or at least such is the Israeli and US scenario.
Israel warns Lebanon that anything moving in the south of the country would be destroyed. This declaration of a "free fire zone" is illegal under international law and was been made by several Israeli officials. Relief agenies are refused permission by Israel to provide aid.
In the Beirut suburb of Chyah, Israeli missiles hit an apartment block killing 15 people. 26 people are killed in an Israeli air strike on the village of Qaa. Israel refuses permission to an aid boat coming into the port of Tyre.
Israel closes the border between Gaza and Egypt (even though Israel has officially withdrawn from Gaza). Helicopters fire missiles into Gaza City killing several people including a 3 year old girl. Missiles were fired into a house killing two people.
According to the news agency Reuters, Israel attacked a Palestinian refugee camp, Ain el Hilwe, in south Lebanon killed at least one person. Another Palestinian refugee camp, al-Hilwah at Sidon, is also attacked.
The Gaza offensive kills over 172 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians. According to the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, at least 6 of those killed were executed extra-judicially.
Israeli forces wound nearly 800 Palestinian civilians (many seriously), including 218 children and 24 women in just over one month. Israel fires hundreds of artillery shells and many dozens of air-to-surface missiles into Gaza every day, mainly against civilian targets that are usually just ordinary buildings. Israel continues to conduct mock air raids, its aircraft (US made and supplied advanced F-16 fighter jets) routinely breaking the sound barrier (often late at night) at low altitudes deliberately inflicting loud sonic booms against the inhabitants. A seige has been in place since the previous election - this has caused a humnitarian crisis. Israel has also destroyed the main pipe providing water for the Nusairat and al-Boreij refugee camps. This conflict and its effects on Palestinians is under-reported as the West's media concentrate on Lebanon.
Israel continues to build its illegal wall and has expropriated Palestinian land in al-Sawhra as-Gharbiya village, east of Jerusalem, to complete a section in that area.
Israel asks the USA government to speed delivery of short-range anti-personnel rockets armed with cluster munitions, which it could use to strike targets in Lebanon. During the first month, Israel launched 8,000 raids on Lebanon, and dropped over 100,000 bombs and missiles.
Israeli attacks kill more than 26 people in Lebanon, including 7 killed when a drone (unpiloted plane) fires rockets at a convoy of hundreds of cars fleeing the south. The unmanned Israeli aircraft fired on a convoy of more than 500 vehicles fleeing the war near the town of Chtaura in the Bekka Valley of Lebanon. One of the dead was Mikhael Jbayleh, a Red Cross worker who went to help people injured in the initial strikes. Several medical personnel are killed as their ambulances are attacked by Israel, often with missiles passing through the centre of the red cross painted on their vehicles' roof. Attacks on medical services violate of the Geneva Conventions.
On day 33, 8 apartment blocks are destroyed by Israeli bombing in west Beirut.
After 34 days a cease fire is agreed.
Lebanese returning to their homes are killed by unexploded cluster bombs. In Ansar one person was killed and 6 were wounded. In Nabatiyeh 6 people were wounded including a rescue worker. Mine removal experts from the United Nations identify thirty places where cluster bombs were used. Two children are killed in Naqoura. Over 200 cluster bombs were found in the town of Tibnin close to the hospital. The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) (from the UK) say that Israel used more cluster bombs in southern Lebanese villages than were used in the USA-led invasion of Iraq. Most were dropped in the final days of the conflict. According to Sean Sutton of MAG: "We have visited about 30 or 40 villages in the Nabatieh region, and I would say that about 50 per cent of them have been carpeted by cluster bombs, often with one lying every few metres. We have found them on peoples' doorsteps, in school playgrounds, and even in the front room of an old lady's house." He added that both USA-made cluster bombs and Israeli-manufactured copies had been found.
|Israeli civilians killed||43|
|Israeli soldiers killed||116|
|Lebanese civilians killed||1,109|
|Lebanese soldiers (not in combat with Israel) killed||28|
|Lebanese resistance fighters killed||55|
|Damage in Israel||300 buildings (including factories)|
|Damage in Lebanon||6,900 houses / apartments|
900 commercial buildings
29 ports, sewage plants, electrical plants
23 fuel stations
oil slick in sea
|Israeli air strikes||7,000|
Israeli forces seize Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser al-Shaer in a raid on his house in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Israel violates the cease fire by attacking the village of Bodai in the Bekka Valley in central Lebanon. Commandos were dropped by helicopter and there was a gun fight for two hours. The UK BBC reports this as "Lebanon accuses Israel of violating the cease fire".
The human rights organisation, Amnesty Interantional, accuses Israel of committing war crimes by deliberately targetting civilians and their infrastructure.
Israel continues operations inside Gaza, killing three people and firing on cameramen. The death toll reaches 202 Palestinians over a two month period, including 44 children. Abd al-Aziz Dweik, the democratically elected speaker of the Palestinian parliament is led into an Israeli court in shackles and charged with being a member of an illegal organisation (i.e one that opposes Israel's occupation). His response was "It is a political trial, and I don't recognise it. I am an elected official."
Hizbollah is consistantly described in the Western media as a terrorist organisation. According to journalist, Dahr Jamail, "they're only referred to as a terrorist organization by the US, Israel, and the UK. Whereas in all of the Middle East, including in Lebanon, a country where they have their base, they are seen as a legitimate political party, a grassroots organization that employs over a quarter of a million people fully engaged in infrastructure projects like hospitals, schools and social welfare programs. We have over 1,300 Lebanese killed by the Israeli war of aggression, over 90% of those civilians. And then we look at the other side where roughly 150 Israelis died over 50% of those were soldiers. So just looking at that statistic alone, whose is the terrorist organization, or more specifically who is the terrorist state? And now, throughout the Middle East, Israel is being seen as the terrorist state rather than Hizbollah being in any way as a terrorist organization. And now, even in Lebanon, Hizbollah is being seen as the rightful defenders of Lebanon against Israeli aggression."
In the USA, Javed Iqbal runs HDTV Corporation, a complany providing satellite television channels. In late August he was arrested because one of the stations provided by his company was al-Manar (run by Hizbollah). It seems that the USA does not want its citizens to have access to the same information that the rest of the world has.
According to the United Nations, 12 Lebanese (including 2 children) are killed by Israeli cluster bombs in a three week period - 28 people are injured during the same post-invasion period. Over 100,000 cluster bombs were found in 359 locations in southern Lebabnon. Tekimiti Gilbert, operations chief of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Lebanon reports:
"It's a huge problem. There are obvious dangers with children, people, cars. People are tripping over these things. These cluster bombs were dropped in the middle of villages". Using cluster bombs in civilian areas is a violation of international law. 90% were dropped in the final 72 hours of the conflict.
Israel continues the sea and air blockade of Lebanon even after the cease fire.
In Gaza, a Reuters car is attacked by an Israeli air strike injuring two journalists, Fadel Shana and Sabbah Hmaida, and two bystanders. According to Associated Press, the white vehicle was emblazoned with the Reuters logo and had "TV" and "Press" written on it in English, Arabic and Hebrew. Another air strike in Jabalya killed nine people. A 16 year old boy was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Nablus. Israeli bulldozers demolished a four storey building that was home to 100 people and the residents were forced out by soldiers.
Israel arrests (or kidnaps) another member of the Palestinian parliament, Mahmoud Mesleh bringing the number of government hostages it holds to 64 Hamas officials, including eight ministers and 29 MPs. Four more people are killed by an Israeli missile strike. During the two month siege and attacks on Palestinian territory, very little has been reported in the Western media. Over a month after the end of the conflict Israel releases 21 of the prisoners.
The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, publishes a story from the head of a unit of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in Lebanon that confirms the use of cluster and phosphorus bombs - both illegal against civilians: "What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs."
The report continues: "Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets. In addition, soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorous shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law. According to their claims, the vast majority of said explosive ordinance was fired in the final 10 days of the war."
The report concludes: "It has come to light that IDF soldiers fired phosphorous rounds in order to cause fires in Lebanon. An artillery commander has admitted to seeing trucks loaded with phosphorous rounds on their way to artillery crews in the north of Israel. A direct hit from a phosphorous shell typically causes severe burns and a slow, painful death."
In the first month after the cease fire, 83 Lebanese die from cluster bombs. The majority of the bombs were manufactured in the USA by a company called Lanson Industries.