Friday, August 04, 2006

Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon

The excuse given by Israel for civilian deaths in Lebanon, one oft repeated by apologists here and elsewhere, has been debunked by Human Rights Watch. First, Democracy Now! reporting on the HRW report:
PETER BOUCKAERT [Emergencies Director for Human Rights Watch]: Human Rights Watch has been on the ground in Lebanon, as well as in Israel, investigating the kind of attacks that are taking place on both sides of this border. Our findings have been that Israel is carrying out indiscriminate attacks inside Lebanon and that this is resulting in the deaths of many civilians. We've identified eyewitnesses and survivors to many of these attacks, and we can clearly state that Israel's excuse that Hezbollah is really responsible for the civilian deaths has no foundation in fact, because in many of these sites where civilians are being killed, like the tragic case in Qana just a few days ago, there was no Hezbollah anywhere nearby and no rocket firing taking place when Israel struck civilian homes and civilian cars.


...Israel has had to backtrack significantly on its original statement. Originally Israel said that they had attacked Qana because Hezbollah was there and was firing rockets at the time of the attack. Now, Israeli officials have been forced to admit, under heavy scrutiny, that they had no information about Hezbollah present at the time of the attack or rocket firing and that Qana had simply been put on the target list, because several days before, rockets had been fired from nearby Qana. And that just shows you how indiscriminate many of these attacks are.

Israel is not adhering to the laws of war, because it's failing to distinguish between military objects it's entitled to attack and civilian homes, cars and infrastructure, which it should refrain from attacking. And that's why so many civilians are dying in Lebanon today.


...Obviously, sometimes civilians do get killed in legitimate military attacks. I’ve worked in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, and we documented many abuses there, too, and many cases in which civilians were killed.

But what we see in Lebanon is very different, and also what we see in Israel. Inside Israel Hezbollah is carrying out direct attacks against civilians with the aims to kill civilians. And this is a war crime, because their attacks are against civilians. Inside Lebanon, we find that Israel is not making the most fundamental distinctions of the laws of war, which is that it has to refrain from attacking civilian objects. In plain words, before pulling the trigger, they have to make sure that they're aiming at a military target. And time and time again, we find that civilians are being killed without any military objective in sight.


...Human Rights Watch has no problem denouncing the kind of war crimes and abuses that Hezbollah is committing against Israel. We have said since the beginning that these are war crimes and that Hezbollah should stop these indiscriminate attacks against civilians. But at the same time, it's a very convenient excuse for Israel to say that civilians are being killed because Hezbollah is shielding behind them, and that's simply not the reality on the ground in many of the cases we have documented.

Time and time again, we have documented that civilians have been killed without any Hezbollah being in the neighborhood, without any Hezbollah being inside their homes, and without any Hezbollah weapons being stored, and also that civilians are being hit on the road time and time again, when they're traveling in cars which are clearly marked with white flags. On a daily, basis Israel is hitting ambulances, they're hitting humanitarian convoys, they're hitting UN bases multiple times a day. Sometimes 30 separate attacks on UN observer posts are being documented in a single day.

So, the problem is that Israel simply is not taking the kind of precautions they need to take. Yes, Hezbollah is a difficult enemy to fight. It's a guerrilla enemy. It's not an enemy with tanks and armored cars, which are easy to hit. But Israel has the obligation to take the precautions required under the laws of war. And I’ve been in Iraq and Afghanistan and Kosovo and Chechnya and many other places, and I have seen these distinctions being made by armies. And so, what we are seeing in Lebanon is very different from what we see in these other conflicts.


...My research team in Northern Israel has been able to photograph cluster bombs in the possession of the artillery teams firing into Lebanon. And we have also been able to document their use on the ground inside Lebanon.

Cluster bombs are very dangerous weapons. Basically what happens is that an artillery shell is fired, it opens up over its target and drops these small bomblets over a very wide area, which are supposed to explode on impact. They create a virtual minefield, exploding minefield, when they drop. Now, what we find is that it's an indiscriminate weapon, which is extremely dangerous to use against a civilian-populated area. And we documented in the village of Blida a cluster bomb attack which killed an elderly woman and wounded an entire family of twelve, including seven children. The husband of that family lost both of his legs in the attack.

But the problem also with cluster bombs, in addition to them being an indiscriminate weapon, is that many of them fail to explode. As much as 14% of cluster bombs’ bomblets, those small bomblets, fail to explode. And so, they leave behind a legacy of death and destruction and maiming after this conflict is over. And it's not just a theoretical legacy. In Kosovo and Iraq, we found that children pick these things up, because they're curious, and farmers step on them when they're out working their fields.

Israel absolutely should not be using cluster bombs in this conflict. And it's an entirely inappropriate weapon against a guerrilla force, anyway, from a military perspective, because cluster bombs are designed to be used against dense concentrations of military troops. You drop cluster bombs on them to kill them. They are anti-personnel weapons. They should not be used against a widely dispersed enemy like Hezbollah, which isn't concentrated in any place.


...We don't think cluster bombs can be used within laws of war in populated areas. It's simply too dangerous a weapon. It's too indiscriminate a weapon. And all countries should refrain from using cluster bombs in populated areas. And we're talking about our experience in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, where we documented horrendous death tolls and the horrendous injuries, because cluster bombs were used in urban areas, especially by the U.S. and U.K. government in Iraq, where they’ve used them widely in populated areas.


There are many reports of the use of phosphorus, and we know that the Israelis have phosphorus in their military -- along with their artillery team. Now, the issue with phosphorus is different, because there are legitimate uses of phosphorus as a weapon --not as a weapon, as an illumination tool. But the problem occurs when phosphorus is used as an offensive weapon, because it causes horrific burn wounds, which can be very disfiguring to civilians. There have been reports that Israel has fired on vehicles and at homes with phosphorus weapons. We're still investigating those, and we do take them serious, because in Fallujah the U.S. Marines did use phosphorus as an offensive weapon, after first denying they did, and it was a very serious violation of the laws of war.

AMY GOODMAN: Peter Bouckaert, I wanted to ask you about another weapon. There are reports of the U.S. sending Israel bunker buster bombs, GBU-28 guided bomb unit bombs, and that they're depleted uranium. Do you know about this?

PETER BOUCKAERT: Yes. We have seen those reports. And those shipments are already going through to Israel. There's a controversy between the United States and England about the use of English bases to transfer weapons to Israel, without seeking permission from English authorities. And we think it's very disturbing that at this moment the U.S. is still sending weapons to Israel, when there is such widespread evidence of their misuse by the Israeli authorities.

Yes, these are smart munitions. And in the ideal world, it's good to use smart munitions, because you end up hitting the targets you want to hit. But the evidence on the ground clearly establishes that Israel is misusing these weapons, that they’re firing them indiscriminately at civilian targets. So we believe it's important that countries put some limits on the way their weapons are used and stop weapons shipments if weapons are used in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Download the HRW report here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

B'Tselem on Gava casualties בצלם

rom B'Tselem:
In July, the Israeli military killed 163 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 78 of whom (48 percent) were not taking part in the hostilities when they were killed. Thirty-six of the fatalities were minors, and 20 were women. In the West Bank , 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in July. The number of Palestinian fatalities in July was the highest in any month since April 2002.

Of the incidents B'Tselem investigated in Gaza over the past month, the organization has identified four cases in which Israel may have committed grave breaches of the laws of war. A total of 15 Palestinian civilians were killed in these incidents, including 7 minors, the details of which are as follows:

  • Air Force missile hits group of youths, killing six
    On 12 July 2006, a group of youths sought shelter from IDF bombing. Ten of the youths went and hid in a big pit. A missile fired from by an Air Force plane hit the pit, killing six of the youths, five of them minors: Mahmmuad al-'Asar, Ibrahim a-Nabahin and Ibrahim Qatush, age 15, Ahmad Abu hajaj, age 16. Salah Abu Maktomah, age 17 and Hassan 'Abeid, age 18.

  • IDF fires two shells at residence and kills four members of the family
    On 21 July 2006, a few members of the Hararah family went onto the roof of their house in the a-Sheja'iyeh neighborhood in Gaza City to watch tanks advancing toward the neighborhood. One of the tanks fired a shell at the house. It hit the staircase and killed Muhammad Hararah,, 45, the brother of the owner of the house. Almost immediately afterwards, another shell was fired at the same spot, killing the mother of the family, Sabah, 45, and two of her sons, Muamen, 16, and 'Amer, 23.

  • Air Force missile hits horse-drawn cart killing a woman and her grandchild
    On 24 July 2006, two youngsters left their family's farm in the Beit Lahiya area after shells had fallen on the farm's land. They went by horse-drawn wagon and on the way picked up two of their family. A missile, fired by an Air Force plane, made a direct hit on the wagon, killing Khairieh al-'Attar, 58 and her grandchild Nadi al-'Attar , 11. Another member of the family, Shadi, 14 was injured. Testimony of Shadi al-'Attar

  • IDF tank shell lands next to housing project, killing three civilians.
    On 24 July 2006, an IDF fired a shell that fell next to the a-Nada Towers , a housing project located in the northern Gaza Strip. The shelling killed three civilians, one of them a minor: Saleh Naser, 14, Sadeq Naser, 33, and S'adi Na'im, 29. Testimony of Muhammad Hararah

The IDF did not issue a statement regarding any of these cases, nor acknowledge that these civilians had been killed. It is unclear why, in these four cases, the Israeli military fired at unarmed civilians and at residential apartments. According to B'Tselem's investigation, there were no armed Palestinians or weapons stored in any of these locations.

Even if the armed forces did not intend to strike civilians, as senior IDF and government officials state repeatedly, B'Tselem's investigations raise a grave concern that these attacks were launched without taking due caution and without verifying that the targets were not civilian structures, as required by the laws of war.

Furthermore, according to the principle of proportionality, it is forbidden to carry out an attack, even against a military object, with the knowledge that it is liable to cause injury to civilians that is excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated from the attack. Thus, even if the killing of the 15 civilians in these four incidents resulted from their proximity to armed Palestinians or to weapons, the magnitude of the "collateral" harm to civilians raises the grave concern that the attacks were disproportionate.

Limited Posts

There will only be a limited number of posts coming from me between now and late on Friday (UK time) I will try to keep the site updated the best that I can but I will be out of town. So I can not make any promises.

Djeb , Steph and Toby may well find a gap in their busy schedules to post and of course all comments will still be moderated in line with our posting policy. If I get a chance to post then I will. Otherwise I will be back late on Friday to resume work as normal.

Please feel free to use this comment thread as an open thread to discuss the latest happenings. But please try to stick with in our posting policy. We can always find time to delete :-)


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

News on a Platter

Propaganda is part of every war, just like bombs and soldiers. Still, it's remarkable how professionally Israel deals with foreign journalists, catering conscientiously to all their needs. Lunch included.


Israel admits : There were no rocket launches from Qana on the day of the strike:

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to establish a state commission of inquiry into the killings at Qana.

As the Israel Air Force continues to investigate the air strike, questions have been raised over military accounts of the incident.

It now appears that the military had no information on rockets launched from the site of the building, or the presence of Hezbollah men at the time. The Israel Defense Forces had said after the deadly air-strike that many rockets had been launched from Qana. However, it changed its version on Monday.

The site was included in an IAF plan to strike at several buildings in proximity to a previous launching site. Similar strikes were carried out in the past. However, there were no rocket launches from Qana on the day of the strike.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Red Cross workers reported on Monday that 28 bodies, 19 of them children, were removed from the rubble.


Open letter to Bush from an Arab girl

President Bush,

It has become extremely difficult to give you the benefit of the doubt on Lebanon, for you have left no doubt in our minds. We are now certain — like many of us have always been — that your foreign policy is completely biased towards Israel, and you have made no effort to hide this fact. Just out of curiosity: are they also drafted in Tel Aviv?

It is your choice, Mr Bush, to support Israel, just like it is our — the entire Arab and Muslim world’s — choice to support Lebanon. You insist that Israel has the right to defend itself. Defending oneself, I believe, is a universal right, not exclusive to Israel.

"The first Qana massacre did not quench the Israeli thirst for blood," it is said, graphically describing yet another Israeli crime against the innocents of Lebanon. In Qana, 57 armless, defenseless civilians died in an Israeli air strike, 37 of them were children. Maybe these numbers don’t matter to you, Mr Bush; they are mere numbers of the nameless Lebanese dead. But they matter to more than 200 million Arabs in the Middle East.

I quote our late president, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who in 1973 had said, "Arab oil is not dearer than Arab blood." But it seems that Iraqi oil is dearer than American blood. I am somewhat relieved to arrive at this conclusion. At least there’s no racism against a certain group of people. Everybody is a potential sacrifice to secure US interests, even if it means sacrificing a whole nation.

No, Mr Bush, we will not accept, nor will we allow the sacrifice of more Lebanese civilians. A ceasefire should have been enforced two weeks ago. Was there a need for 37 children to die before you decided it was time for a ceasefire? How many more, Mr Bush, should die before you decide to stop sending those bloody weapons to Israel? Perhaps we can afford a sacrifice that will rein in your generosity towards Israel permanently.

We have a dream for a new Middle East. Not the "New Middle East" that you’ve been brainstorming in your Oval Office. It is the new Middle East that Middle Easterners have been dreaming of; a Middle East with no violence, and no US-made weapons to fuel that violence. It is a dream only we, Middle Easterners, are allowed to dream and realise it.

In Arabic we have a saying that goes, "They murder the murdered and walk in his funeral." Allow me to interpret this for you, Mr Bush: Your precision-guided missiles shipment has arrived in Tel Aviv. These missiles will "precisely" fall onto Lebanese villages; kill hundreds; and displace thousands more. (Evidently, we’ve just witnessed the first "precise" target in Qana.)

Yet you have "compassionately" been able to send aid to Beirut, at the same time, with supplies for the thousands of people directly and fatally affected by your vocal, (im)moral and military support for Israel. Please include US flags in your aid shipment to Beirut; they must have burned all the US flags in stock.

Mr Bush, Lebanon can and will be rebuilt, but lost lives cannot be restored. Your credibility and your government’s credibility have long been lost — irretrievably lost like those lost innocent lives. People will not forget this though. They will not turn the other cheek; they will retaliate — just like you had chosen to retaliate after 9/11. Retaliation is a value you have successfully promoted by putting it into practice, always.

I was born too late to see how the British Empire had collapsed, but right on time to see how the American Empire is falling apart. Mr Bush, You will surely be remembered in history for hastening that process.

With no more respect to offer,

Mira Al Hussein


US begins building treaty-breaching germ war defence centre

Construction work has begun near Washington on a vast germ warfare laboratory intended to help protect the US against an attack with biological weapon, but critics say the laboratory's work will violate international law and its extreme secrecy will exacerbate a biological arms race.

The National Biodefence Analysis and Countermeasures Centre (NBACC), due to be completed in 2008, will house heavily guarded and hermetically sealed chambers in which scientists simulate potential terrorist attacks.

To do so, the centre will have to produce and stockpile the world's most lethal bacteria and viruses, which is forbidden by the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Three years before that treaty was agreed, President Richard Nixon halted the production of US biological weapons at Fort Detrick in Maryland. The same military base is the site for the new $128m (£70m), 160,000 sq ft laboratory.

The green light for its construction was given after the September 11 attacks, which coincided with a series of still-unsolved anthrax incidents that killed five people. The department of homeland security, which will run the centre, says its work is necessary to protect the country. "All the programmes we do are defensive in nature," Maureen McCarthy, director of homeland security research and development, told the Washington Post. "Our job is to ensure that the civilian population of the country is protected, and that we know what the threats are."

The biological weapons convention stipulates that the signatories must not "develop, produce, stockpile, or otherwise acquire or retain" biological weapons, and does not distinguish between offensive and defensive intentions.

A presentation given by Lieutenant Colonel George Korch said the NBACC would be used to apply "red team operational scenarios and capabilities" - military jargon for simulating enemy attacks.

Some analysts say the extraordinary secrecy surrounding the project will heighten suspicions of US intentions and accelerate work on similar facilities around the world.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Gaza still under fire

With so much attention on Lebanon, it's easy to forget there are events in other parts of the world: a contested election in Mexico, American violations of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, a proposed law in the U.S. to deny Americans the right to a trial by their peers, or even the right to face their accusers, and... Gaza.

A 12-year-old boy dead on a stretcher. A mother in shock and disbelief after her son was shot dead for standing on their roof. A phone rings and a voice in broken Arabic orders residents to abandon their home on pain of death.


It is a war of containment and control that has turned the besieged Strip into a prison with no way in or out, and no protection from an fearsome battery of drones, precision missiles, tank shells, and artillery rounds.

As of last night, 29 people had been killed in the most concentrated 48 hours of violence since an Israeli soldier was abducted by Palestinian militants just more than a month ago.

The operation is codenamed "Samson's Pillars," a collective punishment of the 1.4 million Gazans, subjecting them to a Lebanese-style offensive that has targeted the civilian infrastructure by destroying water mains, the main power station, and bridges.


In Gaza, Palestinian land has already been bulldozed to form a 300-meter open area along the border with Israel proper. And in both cases, the crisis will doubtless end up being defused by a prisoner exchange. With Lebanon dominating the headlines, Israel has "rearranged the occupation" in Gaza, in the words of the Palestinian academic and MP, Hanan Ashrawi. But unlike the Lebanese, the desperate Gazans have nowhere to flee from their humanitarian crisis.

Before Israeli tanks moved into northern Gaza, yesterday, 12-year-old Anas Zumlut joined the ranks of dead Palestinians, numbering more than 100. His body was wrapped in a funeral shroud, just like those of the two sisters, a three-year-old and an eight-month-old baby, who were killed three days ago in the same area of Jablaya.

In the past three weeks, the foreign ministry and the interior ministry in Gaza city have been smashed, prompting speculation that Israel's offensive is not only aimed at securing the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, or bringing an end to the Qassam rocket attacks that have wounded one person in the past month and jarred the nerves of the residents of the nearest Israeli town of Sderot.

"At first we thought they were bombing the Hamas leaders by targeting Haniyeh and Zahar," a Palestinian official said, referring to the Palestinian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. "But when they targeted the economy ministry we decided they wanted to completely destroy the entire government."

Civilians flee southern Lebanon (video)

Air strikes are continuing in southern Lebanon despite an Israeli pledge to halt bombing in the region for 48 hours. The BBC's Fergal Keane visited the Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil to find out if civilians are able to flee the area.

Full quality BBC video (windows media player required )

Low quality video for 56k readers

How can 'terrorism' be condemned while war crimes go without rebuke?

Washington's partners in this hypocritical war on terror are given free rein to wreak their own brutal, illegal violence

By David Clark

As if we didn't know it already, the conflict in Lebanon shows that truth and war don't mix. All parties to the tragedy of the Middle East resort to disinformation and historical falsification to bolster their case, but rarely has an attempt to rewrite the past occurred so soon after the fact. Israeli ministers and their supporters have justified the bombardment of Lebanon as "a matter of survival". Total war has been declared on Israel, so Israel is entitled to use the methods of total war in self-defence. This would be reasonable if it were true, but it isn't. It's completely false

The conflict was triggered by a Hizbullah operation in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and three killed. Let's be frank, this wasn't exactly the Tet offensive. It certainly didn't justify Israel's ferocious onslaught against the very fabric of Lebanese society. Yes, the rocket attacks on Haifa are an appalling crime, but they followed rather than preceded Israel's decision to escalate the fighting. They cannot provide retrospective justification for Israeli strategy.

The crisis has also been accompanied by the selective and often inappropriate use of the term "terrorism". Following the Israeli government, George Bush and Tony Blair were at it again on Friday, blaming "terrorists" for sparking the conflict. The purpose behind this is obvious enough. In the context of America's war on terror, anyone claiming to be engaged in the fight against this most contested of notions gets carte blanche to do as they please. But the result has been to politicise the term in ways that render it effectively useless as a category of moral judgment or policy analysis.

It is certainly true that Hizbullah has been linked to a string of classic terrorist attacks going back more than 20 years, including suicide bombings against civilian targets, hostage-taking and the hijacking of a TWA flight. A particularly vile example was the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were murdered. Hizbullah strongly denies involvement, but the truth is probably murkier than either side pretends. Responsibility for these attacks has often been attributed to Hizbullah's External Security Organisation (ESO), a unit believed to be under the operational control of Iranian intelligence rather than the Hizbullah's Lebanese leadership. Britain is one country that draws this distinction, proscribing ESO, but not Hizbullah itself, under the Terrorism Act.

Interestingly, some of the earliest suicide bombings commonly attributed to Hizbullah, such as the 1983 attacks on the US embassy and marine barracks in Beirut, were believed by American intelligence sources at the time to have been orchestrated by the Iraqi Dawa party. Hizbullah barely existed in 1983 and Dawa cadres are said to have been instrumental in setting it up at Tehran's behest. Dawa's current leadership includes none other than the new Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, feted last week in London and Washington as the great hope for the future of the Middle East. As the old saying goes, today's terrorist is tomorrow's statesman - at least when it suits us.

None of this should be read as exonerating Hizbullah of the charge that it uses terrorist tactics. Irrespective of anything else, the use of Katyusha rockets against Israeli population centres is clearly intended to inflict terror and suffering on civilians. It deserves a response. But the allegations of terrorism levelled at Hizbullah (as well as Hamas and other groups) by America and Israel go well beyond the targeting of non-combatants. The US state department's annual reports on terrorism also list operations carried out against the Israeli Defence Force as examples of terrorism. The US government justifies this conclusion by way of a logical contortion that defines Israeli troops as "non-combatants", despite the fact that Israel continues to occupy territory in Lebanon and Palestine with military force. The intention is not just to stamp out terrorism as commonly understood, but also to stigmatise perfectly legitimate acts of resistance.

Terrorism has always been extraordinarily difficult to define, but the American approach lacks any pretence at objectivity, thus making the term utterly meaningless. Used in this way, terrorism becomes simply "political violence of which we disapprove". The answer, of course, must not be to abandon any attempt to distinguish between right and wrong in the use of force. There need to be standards if we are to prevent the free-for-all of violence without limit. But these standards must be disinterested, legitimate and robust. As it happens, most of what we need is adequately provided for in international humanitarian law. Numerous treaties and judgments from the Geneva conventions onwards set out quite detailed rules governing the use of force, including the principles of proportionality and civilian immunity.

Under international law, there can be no doubt that many of the actions carried out by Hizbullah and Hamas constitute war crimes that must be punished. The reason it has been disregarded for the purposes of fighting terrorism is that, rather inconveniently for the governments concerned, it applies to states as well as non-state groups. Accepting it would leave them open to unwanted scrutiny and possibly even prosecution for war crimes of their own. In the case of the Israeli government, it isn't hard to see why. Israeli doctrine eschews the principle of proportionality in favour of massive retaliation, as has been amply demonstrated in Lebanon and Gaza.

Despite Israel's protestations that it is doing everything it can to avoid civilian casualties, it is clear that its military strategy is aimed at maximising the suffering of the Lebanese people as a whole. This was declared quite openly on day one of the campaign, when Israel's chief of staff, General Dan Halutz, promised to "turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years", and confirmed again yesterday with the horrific slaughter at Qana. The approach is identical to the one taken in similar operations in 1996 and 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin admitted: "The goal of the operation is to get the southern Lebanese population to move northward, hoping that this will tell the Lebanese government something about the refugees, who may get as far north as Beirut." Populations will move like this only if they are in fear of their lives.

The same applies to Gaza, where the pretence at discrimination is even thinner and Palestinian civilians are being subjected to a brutal siege and acts of violence that have no military justification. As in Lebanon, the intention is to force civilians to turn on the militias by inflicting as much pain and suffering as the Israeli government thinks it can get away with. What is this if it is not terrorism? It is certainly a war crime. So let's hear no more hypocritical utterances about the evils of terrorism from Bush and Blair. Not until they are able to speak with genuine moral authority by condemning all forms of illegal violence, irrespective of who commits them.

David Clark is a former Labour government adviser


Qana Again

Sixty three innocent souls were hiding there only 8 survived. Those who survived tell the story of thirty seven children fed and put to sleep hours before the attack took place. They were hit twice; those who survived the first hit did not survive the second.

Israel says it was a mistake. They said the same in 1996 until a video recorded by one of the UN soldiers was handed to The Independent veteran Robert Fisk proved that an Israeli 'drone' was flying low over the base. They knew it was full of refugees and still they bombed it.

'Drones' or similar aircrafts have not left the skies of South Lebanon since day one of the attacks. They have surely seen the children coming inside and outside the building despite that they have decided to bomb it.

Israel is repeating history. History of blood and killing and apologies this time should not be enough. The Israeli army should be brought to justice and face the international tribunal for committing war crimes.

Read the full article here.

Monday, July 31, 2006

France: Iran plays stabilizing role in Middle East

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy says Tehran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East – 'a great country, a great people and a great civilization'

Iran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East which is playing a stabilizing role, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Monday.

"It was clear that we could never accept a destabilization of Lebanon, which could lead to a destabilization of the region,"

Douste-Blazy said in Beirut. "In the region there is of course a country such as Iran – a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region," he told a news conference.

The United States blames Iran and Syria for destabilizing the region by backing Hizbollah in Lebanon which have been battling Israeli forces for nearly three weeks.


An Unfair War

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" - Mahatma Gandhi