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Israeli war planes are bombing Beirut
Sawsan Kalache & Stefan Christoff writing from Beirut, Lebanon, The Electronic Intifada, 13 July 2006
Syrian Mubashir TV images of the Israeli bombing of Beirut International Airport. Around the Arab world, people were glued to their television sets in horror at Israel's decimation of the civilian infrastructure. (EI)
Israeli war planes are bombing Beirut. Over 50 Lebanese civilians have died since the Israeli military launched a major military offensive against Lebanon on Wednesday, July 12th. Bombs targeted civilian infrastructure throughout the country, including the key highways and bridges across southern Lebanon effectively halting all cross-country transportation.
Israeli has imposed a full out air, sea and land blockade on the entire country, bombing Beirut’s international airport and deploying war ships to patrol Lebanon’s waters. Streets in Lebanon’s capital are vacant, as Lebanese are glued to radios and TV’s while the buzzing of Israeli military planes emanates from the night sky.
Commentators on local TV have been calling the Israeli attacks, "the War of Bridges", as over 10 major transport bridges have been bombed. Entire southern regions of Lebanon have been effectively isolated from the rest of the country, as the Israeli military maintains its attacks on the south.
Explosions hit Beirut's southern suburbs home to the political headquarters of Hezbollah who has successfully captured two Israeli soldiers in a recent military operation, sparking the recent fury of Israeli attacks against Lebanon.
Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah, speaking at a nationally televised press conference yesterday stated that the Israeli prisoners would be released only through an exchange for Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli prisons brokered through indirect negotiations.
12 July 2006 — Even before the Lebanese-based Hezbollah took two Israeli prisoners of war today, I ended my trip to Beirut last week with the feeling that, beneath the beautiful, vibrant country there remained serious political tectonic plates waiting for any excuse to slip. I had conversations and visits over a two week period with Lebanese people of all stripes — from the pro-democracy/anti-Syrian political elite, to Hamas, to the downtrodden Palestinian refugees, to the average Mohammad — and I left with the unmistakable impression that American interests are screwed.
Israel's invasion today into South Lebanon and the ongoing air strikes against Lebanon's infrastructure exceeded my worst predictions. Whether you agree or not, three points below explain the context of what is happening now in Lebanon and why the US-Israeli response is bound to cast America deeper into the Mideast abyss, further undermining the (albeit badly) damaged image of US forces while crippling our efforts to sway the global recruits from the growing appeal of Bin Laden.
First, the Bush Administration does not stand for genuine democracy. For months people in the Arab and Muslim world have watched the US and Israel punish the entire Palestinian population for casting its ballot in the January parliamentary elections in which the Hamas party won a majority of seats. The Bush Administration has overtly promoted a soft coup to bring down the Hamas government via economic strangulation. The Palestinians are badly suffering what the United Nations describes as a "humanitarian crisis" and, rather than blaming Hamas — as Bush's NSC policy brainchildren envisioned — the whole Arab and Muslim world is squarely blaming not only Israel but the United States. Many Lebanese people blame Palestinians for ruining their country, yet are still repulsed by America's treatment of Hamas. They are distancing themselves from Washington politicians who once heralded Lebanon for its democratic advancements following the so-called "Cedar Revolution." Alliance with America is the kiss of death as the Islamists continue to win popularity with the Arab street all over the Middle East.