By Dahr Jamail
21 July, 2006
An acquaintance of mine in Lebanon
just sent me this email:
"A friend of mine
just called and told me of a massacre: civilian building destroyed in
Tyre by Israeli aggression. There, Zouhair Edde's mother has been killed.
Rayaan Qudsi has been killed along with her two daughters. This is a
conservative number of martyrs thus far. This building is where refugees
This is but an infinitesimal
example of what is being carried out by the Israeli military apparatus
against the civilian population of Lebanon on an hourly basis.
The official lines of the
US and Israeli governments are that the destruction in Lebanon and Gaza
are due to two Israeli soldiers being taken prisoner. This incredible
display of willful amnesia omits the fact that at least 9,000 Palestinians
are currently being held in Israeli prisons, 1,000 of which have had
no charges brought against them. It also conveniently omits the fact
that over 14,000 Iraqis are languishing in US prisons inside Iraq, most
of whom have been charged with approximately nothing.
While the slaughter of innocents
continues unabated, we must be very clear as to who is responsible for
creating the conditions for it. "Israel has been the largest recipient
of US foreign aid every year since 1976," Frida Berrigan, a senior
research associate at the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy
Institute in New York told Inter Press Service recently.
On top of providing Israel
with billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry, in 2005 alone the
US provided the Israeli government $2.2 billion. This amount is expected
to increase incrementally in the coming years.
Israel has the largest fleet
of F-16 fighter jets in the world, outside of the US. Thanks to the
US, these deadly warplanes are responsible for most of the death and
destruction we've seen thus far in Lebanese cities, suburbs, and ports.
Most of the critical infrastructure
of Lebanon has been reduced to smoldering ruins, as countless Lebanese
are now living by generators and scavenging for food wherever possible.
Bombings have included electrical stations, fuel storage depots, gas
stations, hospitals, ambulance convoys, ports, factories, bridges and
roads. As of this writing, the death toll in Lebanon is now over 350,
all but 14 of which were civilians. There are over 1,000 wounded.
It's called collective punishment.
It is a war crime. It is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions.
An entire country is being
collectively punished while the world sits by and watches.
The US military did it and
continues to do it as you read this in Iraq, and now the Israeli military,
after practicing it for decades in the occupied territories of Palestine,
is carrying out this tactic en masse against the country and people
Let me be clear about which
international laws are being violated by the Israelis.
Article 51 from the 1949
Geneva Conventions states, very clearly, that, "The civilian population
as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of
attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is
to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited."
Al-Jazeera, who has been
doing a remarkable job of covering the catastrophic situation in Lebanon,
had one of their journalists shot in the leg while reporting in Israel.
Jazeera showed the footage-of his colleague in front of the camera jumping
out of the way so as not to be run down by an Israeli military vehicle-then
she raced over with others to assist her shot colleague into an ambulance.
The day before, Jazeera reported on the convoy of ambulances, along
with civilian cars, being bombed by the Israelis.
Israeli warplanes are bombing
ambulances and cars in Beirut.
The Geneva Conventions clearly
specify that, "Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited."
According to Protocol I,
Article 85, Section 3 of the Geneva Conventions, "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."
Hezbollah militants are also
guilty of war crimes by targeting civilians in Israel, where at least
12 have been killed by their indiscriminate rocket attacks into Haifa
and other locations. However, 12 Israeli military personnel have been
killed by Hezbollah attacks. Thus, Hezbollah fighters have been approximately
50% accurate in their attacks against the Israeli military, when in
contrast the Israeli military, according to latest figures, have killed
14 Lebanese soldiers, lending a 4% accuracy rate by comparison. Overall,
for every one Israeli killed, 14 Lebanese die.
This disparity is due to
the fact that people like the prime minister of Israel, George W. Bush
and "Democrats" like Hillary Clinton clearly do not value
the lives of the Lebanese people on par with those of Israelis.
Underscoring this stance
are the recent remarks of the UN "Ambassador" for the US,
John Bolton-who the Jewish lobby group JINSA nominated for the 2006
Nobel Peace Prize.
Bolton told reporters that
there was no moral equivalence between Lebanese civilian casualties
generated by Israeli air raids and Israelis killed by "malicious
terrorist acts," as if there is a difference in these two "terrorist
"I think it would be
a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct
result of malicious terrorist acts," he said.
Recently at the northern
border of Lebanon and Syria, a 25 year-old American social studies teacher
who was staying with his family in downtown Beirut before fleeing for
the border, told me, "Everything is being bombed. It's a terror!
We've literally been terrorized!"
The teacher, Abdul Rahman,
added, "We have not slept for three days because we were living
in terror and never new when the Israelis would bomb us since they were
hitting everything. If they want to hit Hezbollah, let them hit Hezbollah,
but not the civilians-but civilians are all that they are hitting!"
Article 48 from the 1949
Geneva Conventions states that the "basic rule" of the Geneva
Conventions is to protect the civilian population:
"In order to ensure
respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects,
the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the
civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and
military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only
against military objectives."
Bolton also said, in defense
of the Israeli military, "It's simply not the same thing to say
that it's the same act to deliberately target innocent civilians, to
desire their deaths, to fire rockets and use explosive devices or kidnapping
versus the sad and highly unfortunate consequences of self-defense."
Cannot the same be said of
Bolton went on to show his
true colors-that the lives of westerners are of value, whereas the lives
of the Lebanese are not. He was asked to comment on the deaths of eight
Canadian citizens as the result of an Israeli air strike. "…it
is a matter of great concern to us ...that these [emphasis mine] civilian
deaths are occurring. It's a tragedy."
The Canadians had three of
their Lebanese relatives die as well, but Bolton wasn't speaking about
Let me clear about this-Bolton
is a war criminal. Cheney/Bush, with their shameless aiding and abetting
of the Israeli military and Prime Minister Olmerts' policy in Gaza and
Lebanon, are war criminals and should be treated as such. Several other
past US presidents, including Bill Clinton and his golfing buddy Bush
Senior, are war criminals for this same aiding and abetting.
Others who aid and abet and
cheerlead, like the corporate media in the US, are Hillary Clinton,
Joe Lieberman, Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, to name but a select
The slaughter continues day
and night. Today, in one air strike alone, Israeli warplanes killed
13 civilians, all from two families in southern Lebanon. Nine of the
dead were children.
It's going to continue for
at probably "a few weeks," according to Israels' deputy army
chief, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky. "We need more time to complete
our very clear goals. When we fight terror it is a war that needs to
be very accurate, very schematic and it takes time," he said hypocritically
in his radio address, before adding that a ground invasion of Lebanon
was not being ruled out.
On Tuesday, Israeli air raids
struck the Christian coastal town of Byblos north of Beirut and the
eastern city of Baalbek.
At the northern border I
also interviewed a man named Abud Aziz, a 31 year-old Lebanese pastry
chef from Beirut who carried his suitcase under a sweltering sun as
he crossed the border into Syria for refuge. Having just fled Beirut,
Aziz told me, "Lebanon is in a terrible state. I left everything
but some cash and the clothes on my back. I ran for my life because
of the hellish bombing!"
Aziz said there was no water
or electricity since yesterday, anyone who could was leaving Beirut
for the borders or mountains, and the bombing from Israeli war planes
was rampant. "Yesterday I saw two hospitals bombed with my own
eyes," he told me, "Nobody who remains in Beirut can be safe.
A 25 year-old construction
worker named Hamed also told me he witnessed war planes bomb a hospital
in Beirut. "I left just hours ago, and I saw them bomb a hospital
yesterday. They are bombing everything-houses, casinos, fuel stations
and so many bridges."
In 1946, in Nuremberg, an
American Judge wrote: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore,
is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international
crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within
itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
And this is exactly what
Israel is doing in Lebanon. And this war of aggression which "contains
within itself the accumulated evil of the whole" is being aided
and abetted by the leaders of the US government and all those who support