Sunk to new lows / Lebanon up in flames

I was up until 6 am, and just as I was heading to bed, I began hearing the sounds of Israeli jets. I waited for the strike, a boom, but heard nothing. So I went to bed, and woke up this morning to the news of strikes on Beirut International Airport, an air and sea blockade of Lebanon, definitely not an act of war against the people of Lebanon, definitely not prohibited by international law. International law? What’s that? Oh yeah, that anti-Semitic piece of document, surely a conspiracy against the State of Israel. Surely. But what are these Conventions? Let’s see, shall we?

An indiscriminate attack affecting the civilian population or civilian objects and resulting in excessive loss of life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. (Protocol I, Art. 85, Sec. 3)

Relief consignments, equipment and personnel must be able to pass rapidly and freely if the assistance is meant for the civilian population of the opposing side. This includes medicines, religious items, food and clothing. (Convention IV, Art. 23; Protocol I, Art. 70, Sec. 2)

Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited. (Protocol I, Art. 54, Sec. 1)

Combatants must distinguish between civilian and military objects and attack only military targets.

Civilians must not be punished for offenses that they personally did not commit. Collective penalties, intimidation and penalties against civilian populations are prohibited. (Convention IV, Art. 33)

Legitimate military targets are those which make an effective contribution to military action and whose destruction, capture or neutralization offers a definite military advantage. (Protocol I, Art. 52. Sec. 2)

If there is any doubt as to whether a place of worship, house, school or other civilian object is used for military purposes, then it will be presumed not to be a legitimate military target. (Protocol I, Art. 52, Sec. 3)
Grave breaches of the Conventions and Protocols are war crimes.

Needless to say, the destruction of the runways is strictly prohibited under these Conventions. Israel has claimed that the reason the airport was targeted was that it was being used to transfer rockets. Transfer of rockets by air? Well, if this isn’t news! Previously Syria was held responsible for ground shipments. Any sane observer would be aware that the Lebanese-Syrian border has not been closed. But that argument is now down the drain. There is, after all, a better one, no? I cannot even begin to express how amazed I am that Israel has sunk to new lows. Its actions in Gaza and now in Lebanon in response to the kidnappings of its soldiers can only be explained as follows: Israel sees a grave danger in the shift of strategy from the targeting of civilians to the targeting of military personnel. The latter would fully legitimize the resistance movements, take away much of the sympathy that Israel enjoyed, and significantly alter the face of Israeli (domestic) politics. How else can one explain the sharp difference in its reaction between the terrorist attacks (against civilians) and the kidnapping of soldiers? The reaction to the second has been hundreds of times more brutal and violent. Why can’t the Israeli public see this? Their government is reacting for the kidnapping of soldiers by bombing cities and leveling entire towns, blockading an entire country, starving an entire people, massacring entire families, murdering babies. Even if their conscience allows for such a thing, why can’t they see the Israeli government’s manipulation of its people – “let our people suffer occasionally, otherwise our actions will be doubted, criticized, rejected”. Lest there be a growth in Israeli sympathy to the plight of the Palestinians, lest the Israelis finally see what their government and army are doing. I cannot believe this. How blind can the Israeli public be? How can they be so angry about something like this, and advocate the bombing of residential neighbourhoods, in response to the killing of soldiers? I repeat what I said last night: If the killing of soldiers warrants such reaction, then what about the families of the 40 civilians deliberately targeted? What about their calls for revenge? Or is it that only Israelis feel the pain and loss?

This new, very ugly, very dirty face of Israel will engulf the region in flames. I have been glued in front of my computer and the TV, watching scenes of raids. I must stop watching. It is quite depressing. Children massacred, entire residential buildings leveled. I captured some shots from TV with my digital camera, a man carrying a dead 10-month-old baby in a blanket, headless bodies, a dead little girl being show to the cameras, Qana all over again. Someone said today that Israel’s objective was to hit HezbAllah, and to hit it hard, but if that is Israel’s objective, then it is doing a poor if not miserable job at it. I have been talking to many people across the political spectrum here in Lebanon, and while they do not support HezbAllah’s initial actions, most who were never outspoken critics of Israel have adopted a language of immense hostility and bitterness. It seems Israel has not learned that collective punishment will never push people away from either Hamas or HezbAllah. If it is any indication, it was collective punishment that gave rise to and increased support for Hamas and HezbAllah to begin with. Are we to assume that Israel is that stupid? What are we supposed to conclude from Israel’s continuation in this path? One thing: that the “peace” it claims to want, it wants only through missilies, the disposession of “the other”, the locking up of hostages (civilians, including children) and POW for 30 years, while demanding an immediate release of Israeli POW. Israel is pushing the entire Middle East (including many who advocate signing a peace treaty with Israel) into the arms of its enemies (though if you come to think of it, it seems Israel views the entire Middle East – including its civilian population – as its enemy). And it is doing so on purpose.

My mother is supposed to be returning to Lebanon next month. I do not expect that things will be any better by then than they are at the moment. Now there is talk of bombing densely-populated suburbs of Beirut, rockets on Haifa, revenge, revenge, revenge. I think this region has gone irreparably crazy. Time to pack our bags and leave. Except that, but oh! There are no runways, and no ships. Ah, too bad, we are stuck here. Well, at least we’ll get to see the fireworks.

More updates to come, stay tuned. Hopefully the internet wouldn’t go down (it seems to be having serious issues today, I wonder what it is). Land lines in many areas are already dead. I am not on dial-up, but who knows what can happen in this country any time. I can hear children laughing outside, playing. That is what they are supposed to be doing. Not lying dead under the rubble of buildings. Or in bomb shelters, waiting anxiously. The two do not compare of course, but I always try to see both sides of the conflict. I wish more people did that. I wish more people realized that children on the other side of the border did not have to suffer so that their children would not sit in bomb shelters. There are voices from different corners, I am not going to mention religion, race, ethnicity (conscience has got nothing to do with it), human voices, humane voices, but I wonder, is that enough?

Update: Line-ups for fuel can already be seen in many areas, in addition to shortage of vegetables. A real crisis is on the horizon. Mini-Gaza.

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13 responses to “Sunk to new lows / Lebanon up in flames

  1. Thanks for dropping by earlier; I’ve included your post in what’s turning into a running (or rolling, as militarists would say) bloggers’ perspective from the ground in lebanon. If you’re in Rabieh, I guess you’re safe. (First girl I ever fell head over heels for when I was in 5e at Champville years ago lived in Rabieh).

  2. Yup, I am in Rabieh indeed. Well, half the time in Beirut. But even here people have gone crazy. They are stocking up on food, candles, gas, like there’s no tomorrow. The highway I travel on is the north-south highway, which would cut me off from Beirut and much of the services if it is targeted near the suburbs. Water distributors are refusing to distribute water!!

  3. I personally think that both sides are trying each other. Both sides are using their heads and thinking ahead. We see that Israel did not hit major infrastructures of Lebanon until now (specially the electricity). It seems that Israel is a bit careful of Siniora’s government. There is strategic planning and attack from Hizbullah and Israel. Hizbullah is hitting hard and accurately. Israel too is choosing its target areas.
    Perhaps we are not aware of it, and we are the last to know, but both groups are using their military heads and not reactions. Hizbullah seems to be very ready, and it is obvious that it has prepared itself in advance, and knows where this is leading us to.
    Moreover, I also think that Israel is choosing its targets and not hitting the major infrastructures, so that it can create internal conflicts among the Lebanese. The major area threatened until now are places where Shi’ites are majority (Southern Da7iye of Beirut, and the South). This point is vital to consider.

  4. Major infrastructure as in? The country has been dissected into cantons, there are no vegetables here in Beirut because entire areas have been cut off from one another. If there is any major infrastructure it’s bridges and highways, and these have been targeted. Also targeted was Lebanon’s link to the outside world, the airport. This is not over yet, so let’s not be premature in our judgement. The Israelis might still hit (and I think they will) the Zouk power station. Israel’s actions are not well-planned, and its calculations are way off. Just like its actions in Gaza actually UNITED Fatah and Hamas, its actions in Lebanon will only UNITE the otherwise in-fighting factions, or, at least neutralize the other factions as HezbAllah will come to the forefront and play the major role.

  5. This is the first internal view of the Lebanese reaction to the Israel attacks. It’s absolutely insane for civilians to suffer for the acts of politicians, I think war between states should be between presidents themselves, in a boxing ring, because it seems they just talk out of nowhere and take stupid decisions that affect those not involved. The Zionist regime is really pissing me off with their actions under the supervision of “the big brother”. I pray this comes to an end though, without anymore casualties.

  6. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. It is my sincerest hope that cooler minds can prevail to end this conflict soon. I found your blog while looking for information on the situation in your country. Do you know what the communication situation is there? Obviously, you still must have power/telephones if you are able to post this blog. We have a good friend who left the US for Beirut on Sunday, but have had no communication with him since, and his family is unable to get through. We assume he is still in the country, hopefully safe. I am just seeing a report on CNN that some areas of Beirut are being bombed. Keep safe all of you. I will continue to check back here periodically.

  7. From Australia
    Im Lebanese and the recent attacks on Lebanon are worrying me greatly. I was happy when they withdrew in 2000, but now this is a serious blow to Lebanons future. I was hoping I could come back for a couple of months at the end of this year – if the situation doesnt improve, I think that may not be possible. Stay safe and best of luck. Keep the people together, keep the country strong, dont let Israel achieve its goal of creating internal conflict.

  8. Tell the world Anarchistian.

  9. Pingback: tygerland.net » Acts of war: Israeli style

  10. Joellyn, do you know where exactly in Beirut he/she is??

    Land lines here are still intact, though in some areas they may be cut off. Most areas do not have power most of the day as the Jiyyeh power plant was struck. So we’re being given 2-3 hours of electricity at a time.

  11. Anarchistian,
    I appreciate your concern. No one knows exactly, except that he had planned to move around between relatives in the city. No one has heard anything from him as of last night, but we’re hoping he contacted the Embassy. He has plenty of family there to assist him. I just read that US citizens trying to leave the country through Syria were not being given visas, so I guess that’s not an option. Also, Israeli bombs are being targeted at Syrian border crossings now. I think the plan is to try to evacuate Americans through Cyprus. All of you who must remain there, I pray you will stay safe. I don’t know what the answer is to ending this, but my sincerest hope is that a solution to this conflict will come quickly. I agree with you Anarchistian that the longer it continues the harder it will be to end it.

  12. Pingback: Border Crossing Stats » Sunk to new lows / Lebanon up in flames Blogging the Middle East

  13. Big help, big help. And suparletive news of course.

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