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Resist at your peril
Humanitarian groups the world over are decrying Israel's punitive strikes on the hapless civilian population of Lebanon rather more firmly than governments, writes Gamal Nkrumah
Unexpected Israeli pounding jolted Lebanon out of a relatively quiet July, prompting international reactions. Western governments, and in particular the United States, were on the whole supportive of the Israeli aggression. The Europeans, with the possible exception of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were less assertively pro-Israeli. Many European leaders expressed grave reservations about the bombardment of civilian targets.
"The European Union is greatly concerned about the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Lebanon in response to attacks by Hizbullah on Israel," according to a statement issued by Finland, which happens to be holding the EU's rotating presidency. "The presidency deplores the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The imposition of an air and sea blockade on Lebanon cannot be justified... actions, which are contrary to international humanitarian law, can only aggravate the vicious circle of violence and retribution, and cannot serve anyone's legitimate security interests."
For one particularly influential player in Lebanese politics, France, Lebanon's former colonial master, officially reserved strong criticism for Israel's retaliatory measures. Reactions from Asian, African and South American countries were even more openly sympathetic to the Lebanese cause, while international relief agencies and human rights organisations spoke with a unanimous voice -- strongly condemning the Israeli battering of civilian targets in Lebanon. Indeed the Herculean efforts required to salvage the humanitarian situation in Lebanon have, not surprisingly, become the focus of United Nations affiliated organisations and human rights groups as well as humanitarian relief organisations worldwide.