Promise Of Humanitarian Corridors Is Exposed As A Sham
By Robert Fisk
09 August 2006
much for Ehud Olmert's "humanitarian corridors". Two weeks
after the Israeli Prime Minister's comforting assertion - which no one
in Lebanon believed - the Israeli air force has blown up the last bridge
across the Litani river, in effect ending all humanitarian convoys between
Beirut and southern Lebanon. Requests from humanitarian organisations
for clearance from the Israelis are now being refused. Even the Red
Cross admits there is now, in effect, a blockade on a vast area along
the Lebanese border where thousands of civilians are still cowering
in their homes.
David Shearer, the UN's humanitarian
co-ordinator in Lebanon, has pleaded with the Israelis to end their
attacks against the country's infrastructure and end all activities
which threaten the transport of humanitarian aid to the displaced. But
convoys since have been cancelled or forced to make long detours across
the country and along the edge of the Lebanese-Syrian border. Truck
drivers are frightened to risk their lives under Israeli air attack.
I myself was on a Red Cross field trip from Qlaya to Jezzine when, close
to the village of Arab Selim, an Israeli jet dropped a bomb on the road
80 metres in front of us. On the Litani river, north of Tyre, the main
road bridge had been blasted away but the Lebanese army had constructed
a temporary bridge over the water to the west. Now that, too, has been
ripped to pieces by Israeli bombs.
Mr Shearer warned of a "serious
humanitarian crisis" if convoys were not allowed to move south.
A Red Cross spokesman, Richard Huguenin, said his organisation had been
denied permission by the Israelis to move humanitarian aid to the border.
Without guarantees of safe passage, the organisation cannot leave Tyre
for dozens of villages whose inhabitants are trapped. "At night,
we ask for permission and in the morning we get either a red light or
a green light, and for the past 48 hours it has been red," he said.
A Greek ship carrying Red
Cross supplies was supposed to have docked in Tyre on Monday, but was
refused permission to land and diverted to Sidon, north of the Litani.
The French are still bringing boatloads of supplies into Beirut, accompanied
- wisely, it has to be said - by a French warship equipped with anti-aircraft
So are Mr Olmert's non-existent
"humanitarian corridors" to be created by force? Or will they
have to wait until the civilians of southern Lebanon are starving?
© 2006 Independent News
and Media Limited