Global Protests at Indiscriminate Israeli Bombings of Lebanon
The Associated Press puts the Israeli offensive against Lebanon on Friday succinctly:
' Israel again bombarded Lebanon's airport and main roads in the most intensive offensive against the country in 24 years. For the first time, it struck the crowded Shiite neighborhood of south Beirut around Hezbollah's headquarters, toppling overpasses and sheering facades off apartment buildings. Concrete from balconies smashed into parked cars, and car alarms set off by the blasts blared for hours. The toll in three days of clashes rose to 73 killed in Lebanon and at least 12 Israelis, as international alarm grew over the fighting, and oil prices rose to above $78 a barrel. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency session on the violence, and Lebanon accused Israel of launching "a widespread barbaric aggression." In addition to the fighting in Lebanon, Israel pressed ahead with its Gaza Strip offensive against Hamas, striking the Palestinian economy ministry offices early today.
Israel bombed the HQ of Hizbullah leader Shaikh Hasan Nasrullah, probably hoping to kill him, but he survived and launched more retaliatory strikes on Israeli targets. More Katyusha rockets rained down on northern Israel, forcing many residents to flee. And Hizbullah used a drone to attack an Israeli warship, setting it aflame and forcing it to return to port. Four sailors are missing.
The Israeli attacks may well inflict long-term damage on the limping Lebanese economy.
Israeli spokesmen are saying that they want to finish off Hizbullah. But you can't finish off a mass movement among 1.35 million people. Besides, there wouldn't be any Hizbullah if Israel had not invaded Lebanon in 1982 and occupied the south for 18 years. Israel's grabby occupation radicalized and helped mobilize the Lebanese Shiites. They aren't going to become less radical and less mobilized as a result of the current hamfisted Israeli assault.
On Friday, thousands of protesters rallied in Cairo, Amman, Gaza City, and Baghdad, as well as throughout Turkey, to protest massive Israeli attacks on Gaza and Lebanon. There was also a demonstration in Dearborn, Michigan. There are 25,000 Americans in Lebanon, now in severe danger from Israeli bombings. Most of the demonstrations in the Middle East not only condemned Israel but also the United States.
Americans have to understand that when Israel goes wild and bombs a civilian airport and civilian neighborhoods in Beirut, a lot of the world's Catholics (Lebanon is partially a Catholic country) and its 1.4 billion Muslims blame the United States for it. Israel is given billions every year by the United States, including sophisticated weaponry that is now being trained on the slums of south Beirut. It should also be remembered that Bin Laden said, at least, that he started thinking about hitting New York when he saw that 1982 Israeli destruction of the skyscrapers or "towers" of Lebanon. How many future Bin Ladens are watching with horror and rage and feelings of revenge as Israel drops bombs on civilian tenement buildings? When will this blow back on Americans? (I mean blow back in other ways than an already painful further spike in petroleum prices).
The Vatican called Israel's assault on Lebanon an "attack on a sovereign and free nation."
Reuters reports on the reaction of French President Jacques Chirac:
'He said Israel's offensive in Lebanon following the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of eight more by Hizbollah guerrillas was "completely disproportionate". "One can ask oneself whether there isn't a sort of desire to destroy Lebanon," he said. But he also condemned Hizbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, which abducted a third Israeli soldier, as "totally irresponsible" for the attacks which provoked Israel's response. '
Italian Premier Romano Prodi said,
"We deplore this escalation and the serious damage to Lebanon's infrastructure and the civilian victims that these raids have caused."
The USG Open Source Center translates from Text of report by Spanish national RNE Radio 1 on 14 July in Spain this statement by the Spanish prime minister:
(Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero) "In my view, Israel is mistaken. Defence is one thing, it is legitimate, and another is launching a counter-offensive of general attack in Lebanon, in Gaza, which will surely bring nothing but a stepping up of the violence."
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre 'government condemned both the militant group Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers on Wednesday and the Israeli reaction to it.' He added "We also condemn the Israeli attacks against Lebanon, including the bombing of the airport in Beirut and the naval blockade of Lebanese waters," Støre said. "This is completely unacceptable, and amounts to a dangerous escalation of the situation."
For a view from the ground of the situation by refugee workers, see this link.
And see Dennis Perrin.