Saturday, August 5, 2006


Fatima Jadallah, 55, killed by Israeli bullets while in her own home in Rafah Refugee Camp

Even coffee shops were targeted
Damage in Rafah

Children running to an UNRWA school

Right now in Rafah, I have seen people and children who had been bleeding for 12 hours, laying on the ground, while ambulances are no longer able to evacuate their bodies. The attack is still ongoing in the last 15 hours and so far more than 12 people were killed and over 40 were injured. the attack is still going on up till now, and the numbers of victims is increasing minute by minute. People in Rafah are appealing to the world and all humans who have hearts and mind to stop Israeli from killing and targeting people inside their houses.
Rafah has turned into a hell as a result of the incursion which seems to be a very heavy with a number of 70 tanks and bulldozers as well as the Israeli helicopters and F16s hovering allover the night and bombing all related to humans.
No water, no electricity in most of the areas in Rafah, as most of the families have evacuated to the schools runs by UNRWA in Rafah refugee camp, but so far and the number of the victims is increasing and many of the people whom injured and killed where very close to Abu Yousef Al Najjar hospital, which is the only hospital and when it comes not to be safe for a medical worker to get into the area or a journalist to get into the spot, then here we can say that this is the end of the most democratic country in the world!

Global Marches Protest Israeli Offensive

"Thousands of people marched in Britain, South Africa and Egypt Saturday to protest the Israeli offensive in Lebanon, some demanding an immediate halt to the fighting and others pressing for sanctions against Israel.

Police in London said 20,000 people joined a march past the U.S. Embassy to Parliament. Organizers — a coalition of peace, Muslim, Palestinian and Lebanese groups — put the turnout at more than 100,000.
"There should be an immediate cease-fire," said Jeremy Corbyn, a lawmaker from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party, adding "the government's line is incomprehensibly wrong."

In South Africa, thousands marched through Cape Town to Parliament to demand sanctions against Israel.
Demonstrators carried pictures of Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Some carried posters declaring, "Israel the new Nazis."
Protesters urged the South African government to recall its ambassador from Israel and sever diplomatic ties, impose trade sanctions, and prosecute South Africans who serve in the Israeli defense force.

More than 2000 people marched in downtown Cairo, demanding authorities allow them to fight in Lebanon, police said. The protest was organized by Egypt's banned, but tolerated, main opposition Muslim Brotherhood and the Lawyers Syndicate, the national attorneys' union."

For Israel, Innocent Civilians Are Fair Game


"Israel's claims about pin-point strikes and proportionate responses are pure fantasy. As a researcher for Human Rights Watch, I've documented civilian deaths from bombing campaigns in Kosovo and Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. But these usually occur when there is some indication of military targeting: high-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's regime present in a house just before it is hit, for example, or an attack against militants that causes the collateral deaths of many civilians.

In Lebanon, it's a different scene. Time after time, Israel has hit civilian homes and cars in the southern border zone, killing dozens of people with no evidence of any military objective.

Not only has Israel failed to distinguish between military and civilian targets; its own officials suggest that they have decided any civilian still in the south is fair game. Last week, Justice Minister Haim Ramon reportedly said, "All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah.""

American/Israeli scale of justice.

Yes, It is a Crusade!

Tony Blair's Mad Speech About Iraq


"Dear Prime Minister,

I was astonished, reading your speech on the Middle East delivered to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on August 1, to find all the traits of those insane letter writers. There is even the same mad person's obsessive capitalization. In the complex crises in the Middle East and beyond you say you see primarily 'a struggle between what I will call Reactionary Islam and Moderate, Mainstream Islam.' Your vision is an apocalyptic one. You see 'an elemental struggle about values' and it turns out that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq 'were not just about changing regimes but changing value systems. The banner was not actually "regime change" it was "values change."'

Traditional Islam is growing stronger in Sunni Iraq because it has shown that it can fight the foreign invader in a way that secular nationalists, like Saddam Hussein, demonstrably failed. Among the Shia it is the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the nationalist cleric, who won 30 seats in the Iraqi parliament. The political success stories in Iraq are of those who combine Islam, nationalism and an ability to fight. The US, with Britain trotting along behind, may soon find it embroiled in a war with the 15-16 million strong Shia community in Iraq as well as with the Sunni. "

The Case for Boycotting Israel

Boycott Now!

Johannesburg, South Africa.

"It is finally time. After years of internal arguments, confusion, and dithering, the time has come for a full-fledged international boycott of Israel. Good cause for a boycott has, of course, been in place for decades, as a raft of initiatives already attests. But Israel's war crimes are now so shocking, its extremism so clear, the suffering so great, the UN so helpless, and the international community's need to contain Israel's behavior so urgent and compelling, that the time for global action has matured. A coordinated movement of divestment, sanctions, and boycotts against Israel must convene to contain not only Israel's aggressive acts and crimes against humanitarian law but also, as in South Africa, its founding racist logics that inspired and still drive the entire Palestinian problem.

That second goal of the boycott campaign is indeed the primary one. Calls for a boycott have long cited specific crimes: Israel's continual attacks on Palestinian civilians; its casual disdain for the Palestinian civilian lives "accidentally" destroyed in its assassinations and bombings; its deliberate ruin of the Palestinians' economic and social conditions; its continuing annexation and dismemberment of Palestinian land; its torture of prisoners; its contempt for UN resolutions and international law; and especially, its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. But the boycott cannot target these practices alone. It must target their ideological source."

A terrible thought occurs to me - that there will be another 9/11

By Robert Fisk

"In fact, one of the most profound changes in the region these past three decades has been the growing unwillingness of Arabs to be afraid. Their leaders - our "moderate" pro-Western Arab leaders such as King Abdullah of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt - may be afraid. But their peoples are not. And once a people have lost their terror, they cannot be re-injected with fear. Thus Israel's consistent policy of smashing Arabs into submission no longer works. It is a policy whose bankruptcy the Americans are now discovering in Iraq.

And all across the Muslim world, "we" - the West, America, Israel - are fighting not nationalists but Islamists. And watching the martyrdom of Lebanon this week - its slaughtered children in Qana packed into plastic bags until the bags ran out and their corpses had to be wrapped in carpets - a terrible and daunting thought occurs to me, day by day. That there will be another 9/11. "

Oh God (redux)

Saturday August 5, 2006
The Guardian

Almost two years ago, Emma Brockes spoke to liberal Britons the morning after George Bush's re-election and found a collective sense of foreboding and depression. Now, she asks, have our worst fears come to pass?

"The surprising thing is that any of this has come as a surprise. The day after George Bush was elected for a second term, all those who had been rooting for the other guy (who was it, again?) predicted that the world as we knew it was shortly to end. It was comforting, in a gothic sort of way, to throw oneself around like Sybil Thorndike and imagine just how bad things were going to get. "The one consolation," a friend of mine emailed at the time, "is that he [Bush] will screw things up so badly in the next four years that the Democrats will move back into favour. That's if we still have a world."

Biblical prophesy sites have been quick to jump on the Israel/Lebanon crisis as a realisation of Thessalonians 5:3 ("While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape ...") and the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39. They must be the only people actively enjoying the situation. "Got that dancing feeling on the inside of me," posts one contributor to the Rapture Ready website, an outfit dedicated to scouring world events for signs of the second coming. Its talkboards are in a state of high excitement at the moment. "This is the busiest I've ever seen this website in a few years!" posts one contributor. "I have been having rapture dreams and I can't believe that this is really it! We are on the edge of eternity!!!!!!!"

These are strange times and the fact that everyone claimed to see them coming in 2004 hasn't made them any easier to deal with. It occasionally feels as if magnetic flip is taking place, the process of polar reversal that happens every 300 millennia or so when north becomes south and south north, and birds fly into buildings and people with pacemakers keel over in the street. What can you do? For the past 10 years I have taken William L Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich on holiday and for the first time, last week, I actually thought about reading it. (I didn't, obviously.) As multiple wars on multiple fronts drag on, you try to initiate a cycle of response that reminds you there are things to be grateful for; the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo going off without violence, for example, and Mel Gibson self-detonating. You reassure yourself that, as in all cycles of history, this one will come to an end, too. Then you remember that the man in charge of writing the ending is George Bush, and you have to start again."

Militants merge with mainstream

The Guardian

· Hizbullah emerges as symbol of resistance
· Anger at Israel's actions unites Shias and Sunnis

"It was organised by Artists and Writers for Change, a liberal movement which campaigns for reform in Egypt. Its members, who include Youssef Chahine Egypt's foremost film director, are precisely the type of "mainstream" people that Tony Blair was pinning his hopes on earlier this week as a bulwark against extremism. As a result of the bombing of Lebanon they are now venting their wrath against Israel and the US and waving Hizbullah flags.

Whatever qualms Arabs once had about Hizbullah they have since been dissipated by Israel's attacks, the hundreds of deaths, the sight of up to a quarter of the Lebanese population fleeing their homes, and especially the bombing of UN observers and the massacre at Qana.

Other Arab governments including Egypt and Saudi Arabia - have also toughened their stance but this cuts little ice with many of the demonstrators."Egypt! Jordan! Saudi Arabia! Nasrallah has bested you all," they chanted in the Cairo square on Thursday. Hizbullah's defiance was contrasted favourably with the somnolence of Arab regimes. "The Arab world has changed," Mr Almaeena said. "It has a new breed of young people ... They will not put up with the same old status quo. The political scene in the Arab world is changing too. In a few years there will be those who will resist even more. ""




Friday, August 4, 2006

Israel's vaunted tanks are succumbing to Hezbollah's powerful missiles

" Hezbollah's sophisticated anti-tank missiles are perhaps the guerrilla group's deadliest weapon in Lebanon fighting, with their ability to pierce Israel's most advanced tanks.

In the last two days alone, these missiles have killed seven soldiers and damaged three Israeli-made Merkava tanks – mountains of steel that are vaunted as symbols of Israel's military might, the army said. Israeli media say most of the 44 soldiers killed in four weeks of fighting were hit by anti-tank missiles. "

Syria's Christians rally behind Hizbollah

"DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Seventy-seven-year-old Mona Muzaber lights a candle for Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah at the Orthodox Church of the Cross in the center of Damascus.
"I love him. I never felt Nasrallah was a religious zealot. He is a patriot who doesn't seek personal gain," she said. "I light a candle daily for him to remain under God's protection."

Israel's offensive against Lebanon has brought Christians in neighboring Syria closer to Nasrallah, a Shi'ite Muslim, reviving Arab nationalist feelings and blurring sectarian divisions.

Bishops and priests say Syria's Christians, a devout community of around three million out of a population of 18 million, identify strongly with Nasrallah's battle with Israel, which has occupied Syria's Golan Heights since 1967.

"Pray for the resistance, pray for Hassan Nasrallah. He is defending justice," Father Elias Zahlawi told the congregation at special mass held at the Lady of Damascus, a Catholic church."

Seeds of Crisis: The U.S., Israel and the Middle East

At a recent Palestine Center briefing, experts analyzed the current developments in the Middle East and addressed the root causes of the conflict. Halim Barakat explained the historical context which allowed for the eruption of the recent events and Laurie King-Irani discussed the meaning of democracy, terrorism and international law. Sam Husseini pointed out that the media could do a better job in informing the public of the events in the Middle East and Jim Lobe analyzed U.S. Foreign Policy toward the Middle East since 9/11.

Syria Wants to Talk, But Bush Won't Answer the Phone

Damascus has effectively cooperated with Washington on terrorism, says Syria's ambassador.

By Imad Moustapha
IMAD MOUSTAPHA is the Syrian ambassador to the United States.

"Gone are the days when U.S. special envoys to the Middle East would spend hours, if not days, with Syrian officials brainstorming, discussing, negotiating and looking for creative solutions leading to a compromise or settlement. Instead, this administration follows the Bolton Doctrine: There is no need to talk to Syria, because Syria knows what it needs to do. End of the matter."


Hanady sent this:

"Here. The 30 something workers killed today in qaa, in the bekaa, on the border with Homs Syria. They had just finished collecting apples, packing them to be put on board of a truck , and they were having lunch. The israeli wasted 2 air strikes on them. The first one hit some of them . The others gathered to try and help out the wounded and take the dead bodies out . Israel loves to kill those who help others. Israel loves to kill poor people. They're its favorite target , second best if you count kids."


Losing the Three-Front War

By Patrick Seale

"In a word of wise advice to pig-headed political leaders, Denis Healey, a former British Defense Secretary, used to say, "When you're in a hole, stop digging!" The United States and Israel are in a deep and dangerous hole. They urgently need to stop digging before the hole swallows them up.

They are fighting, and losing, on three fronts - Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. It seems that this is not enough for the more insane and hysterical among them who are clamoring to extend the war to Syria and Iran, and to the whole of what they like to call the "Islamo-Fascist" world. Israel denies it is involved in the Iraq war. But, in fact, it is as much part of that conflict as the United States is now part of the wars in Lebanon and Palestine. Israel participated in the strategic planning for the Iraq War, which was designed to remove any threat to it from the east. Its neocon friends in Washington egged on America and fabricated the phony intelligence which persuaded a gullible President that smashing Iraq was necessary for America's security. "

آية الله فضل الله يحذر

آية الله فضل الله يحذر من اي انجرار نحو فتنة تلبي اهداف سفير واشنطن: حرب المقاومة ضد حرب اميركا واسرائيل ستمتد الى العالمين العربي والاسلامي
ألقى آية الله السيد محمد حسين فضل الله خطبة صلاة الجمعة، أكد فيها "ان المقاومة التي تحمل قرار النصر او الشهادة سوف تستكمل افشال حرب الابادة الاميريكية - الاسرائيلية، محذرا من اي انجرار نحو فتنة مذهبية او طائفية داخلية، تلبي اهداف سفير واشنطن في لبنان". ودعا الشعوب العربية والاسلامية و حكوماتها الى مؤازرة شعبي لبنان وفلسطين ومما جاء في خطبته السياسية: "انها الحرب الاميركية التي لا يزال الرئيس الاميركي واعضاء ادارته مصرون عليها، وكأنهم لم يرتوا بعد من دماء اطفال لبنان و نساءه و شيوخه، ولم يشبعوا من لحومهم، كما لو كان اللبنانيون بنظر هذا الرئيس وادارته من الهنود الحمر الذين كان الجنود الاميركيون يصطادونهم كما يصطادون الارانب. انها حرب اميركا على لبنان بصفتها جزءا من حرب اشمل، او على الاقل بكونها خطوة مهمة نحو احياء مشروع الشرق الاوسط الكبير او الموسع الذي تعثر في العراق او تعويض خسائرها النسبية في بلاد ما بين النهرين، عبر ربح دولا اخرى تعمل الادارة الاميركية لكي يكون لبنان اول حبة في عنقودها.

Shortly before invasion, Bush didn't know there were two sects of Islam

Former Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith is claiming President George W. Bush was unaware that there were two major sects of Islam just two months before the President ordered troops to invade Iraq, RAW STORY has learned.

In his new book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, Galbraith, the son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, claims that American leadership knew very little about the nature of Iraqi society and the problems it would face after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”

Environmental Disaster Looms; Oil spill threatens Mediterranean after power plant hit; Cleanup along Lebanon's coast can't begin until fighting ends

BEIRUT — Endangered turtles die shortly after hatching from their eggs. Fish float dead off the coast. Flaming oil sends waves of black smoke toward the city.

In this country of Mediterranean beaches and snow-capped mountains, Israeli bombing that caused an oil spill has created an environmental disaster. And cleanup can't start until the fighting stops, the United Nations said.

World attention has focused on the hundreds of people who have died in the three-week-old conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The environmental damage has attracted little attention but experts warn the long-term effects could be devastating.

Arab despots, not Israel, are now under a greater threat

Jonathan Steele in Tyre
The Guardian

"Hizbullah's victory may do less damage to Israel than to other Arab regimes. The success of a Shia insurgency will encourage other Shias around the region, including those in Saudi Arabia. To the consternation of his American protectors, Iraq's Shia prime minister, Nuri al- Maliki, did not condemn Hizbullah. But the Sunni/Shia issue should not be exaggerated. Hizbullah's appeal across the Arab world is a wider matter of Islamism and the struggle against corrupt despotism. Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Jordan - and even in the medium term Syria, which has backed and armed Hizbullah - will feel the shockwaves running through the Arab street."

War Crimes Continue; Bridge Bombing Paralyses Lebanon Aid Pipeline by Michael Winfrey

BEIRUT - Israel's bombing of key highway bridges in northern Lebanon and strikes at a Hizbollah stronghold in south Beirut paralysed United Nations aid convoys on Friday, but other aid continued to arrive by air and sea.

Air strikes against four bridges on the main coastal highway linking Beirut to Syria stalled an eight-truck convoy carrying 150 tonnes of relief and cut what the United Nations called its "umbilical cord" for aid supplies.

The bridge at Maameltein, just north of Beirut, was split along its centre by a huge crater which partially engulfed the crushed shell of a minivan. Further north, another bridge lay stretched out in the valley it once spanned.

"The whole road is gone," said Astrid van Genderen Stort, senior information officer for the UNHCR refugee agency.

"It's really a major setback because we used this highway to move staff and supplies into the country."

The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) called off planned convoys southwards to the port city of Tyre and Rashidiyeh after air strikes on a southern Beirut suburb prevented drivers from reaching the convoys' departure point.

[click here to keep reading]

Israeli Soldier Incarcerated for Refusing to Fight by Aaron Glantz

Israeli authorities have sentenced an army officer to 28 days in a military prison for refusing to serve in the ongoing Israeli campaign in Lebanon.

32-year-old Reserve Captain Amir Paster, an infantry officer and student at Tel Aviv University, is the first Israeli soldier to be punished for refusing to serve in the current conflict and has received harsh criticism from the Israeli military for setting what it termed a bad example for his troops.

According to the soldier support group Yesh Gvul ("There Is a Limit"), Paster refused to serve on the grounds that Israeli operations were harming civilians, declaring at his trial "taking part in this war runs contrary to the values upon which he was brought up."

[click here to continue reading]

'The US is the kiss of death' in the Arab world

By Jim Lobe
Asia Times

"Not only is Washington's thus far staunch support for Israel losing Arab "hearts and minds" at an astonishing pace, but the "moderate" governments and non-governmental forces the administration had hoped would act as catalysts for reform are increasingly isolated across the region, according to Middle East specialists.

"I have never seen the United States being so demonized or savaged by Arab commentators, by Arab politicians," Hisham Melham, veteran Washington correspondent for Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper, told a conference this week at the Brookings Institution, an influential think-tank.

"People are clinging to Hezbollah, clinging to Hamas, because they see them as the remaining voices or forces in the Arab world that are resisting what they see as an ongoing hegemonic American-Israeli plan to control the region," he said.

Shibley Telhami, an expert on Arab public opinion at the University of Maryland, observed at the same meeting, "Right now, the United States is the kiss of death."

EU Monitors at Rafah Contribute to its Strangulation

PCHR is dismayed by the role of the European Union Monitors at the Rafah Crossing, which contributes in imposing collective punishment of the civilian population.The Centre calls upon these monitors to respect the rights of the Gaza Strip population to travel through the Rafah Crossing. The Centre calls upon the monitors to return immediately to the Crossing to reopen it for travel. Continued.

Hizbullah offers to spare civilians if Israeli military does as well

BEIRUT: Hizbullah's leader offered Thursday to stop pounding Israel's "northern settlements" if the Jewish state refrained from bombarding Lebanon's "cities and civilians." Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also issued a warning, however, in a televised speech: "Let my words be clear,
Hizbullah bombarding the Zionist entity's capital, TelAviv."In an almost immediate response aired on Israeli public television, a senior military official said Israel would destroy all of Lebanon's infrastructure if Tel Aviv were hit."We are ready to keep the whole thing restricted to a military fight with the Israeli Army," Nasrallah said, "on the ground, fighters to fighters."

But Israel dropped leaflets over the southern suburb of Beirut, warning residents of Bir al-Abed, Hay Madi and Al-Ruweiss to evacuate their homes. Nasrallah also refuted the Israeli claim that it had carved out a "security zone" by taking up positions "in or near 11 towns and villages in South Lebanon." An Israeli Army spokesperson said Thursday Israel was creating a new defensive line estimated at 6 to 8 kilometers inside Lebanon. This new zone would be comparable to the area it held until the pullout from Lebanon in May 2000. Three weeks into the conflict, about 10,000 Israeli troops are believed to be inside Lebanon."Our fight with the Israeli Army is based on the tactic of street fights against an organized army. This means we hit and run without holding our positions," Nasrallah said."The Israelis claimed they had heavy clashes with our fighters resulting in the taking over of a Hizbullah post in the southern town of al-Abbad. The truth is ourfighters had left the post when the aggression first started three weeks ago. I don't know with whom the Israelis had heavy clashes there." Nasrallah also described Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert as "an incompetent moron." Continued

Israel making same mistake as US in Iraq, say strategists

As Israeli ground troops flood into southern Lebanon in abid to create a buffer zone to protect its territory fromrocket attacks, some military analysts believe Israel hasmade the same mistakes as the US in Iraq. They say itsfocus on high-technology warfare and tactical advantagehas led it to underestimate the strategic importance ofpublic opinion. Continued

Tyre, the morgue of south

TYRE -- A stinging odour hangs over the Palestinian refugeecamp of Bass, at the entrance to the southern Lebanesecity of Tyre, the chosen site for a mass grave for thedozens of victims of Israel's blistering bombardment ofthe area.

"Tyre has now become the morgue for the whole region,"says Tyre's mayor Abdel Mohsen Husseini bitterly. OnWednesday afternoon, 26 corpses of civilians killed byIsraeli bombardments were pulled out of a truck in thetown square at the entrance of Bass, where thousands ofPalestinian refugees live. Continued.

Traumatised and afraid - 300,000 children who want to go home

"I don't want to die. I want to go to school," says Jamal,a four-year-old Lebanese boy scarred by the Israelibombing of his country. Home for Jamal is now a"displacement centre" in the southern town of Jezzine,where his family fled in fear for their lives. Continued.

Smarty Bombsalot

What to do when a militant Islamic group lobs rockets and graps some of your soldiers? Great cartoon (Flash) by Mark Fiore. Click here to watch it.

النص الكامل لكلمة الامين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله / تاريخ 3/8/2006

Hassan Nassrullah's Speech Highlights:

The following is a summary of the main points of a speech made by the Hizbullah leader, Shaikh Hasssan Nassrullah, which was aired by Al-Manar TV and several TV stations around the world today, Augsust 3, 2006.

I. Battlefield:

1. Hizbullah resistance fighters are still fighting the Israeli invading forces all over south Lebanon after 23 days of hostilities. This has been the real surprise for the Israeli leaders who expected to occupy south Lebanon and destroy Hizbullah in few days.

2. Hizbullah destroyed two Israeli naval warships, one off Beirut coast, the other off Saida coast. On both cases, Israelis denied the Hizbullah story. The first one was later confirmed. The Israelis are still in denial to hide the facts from their people about the second.

3. Hizbullah fighters follow a guerilla warfare. They do not keep geographical territory. Their goal is attacking the enemy quickly, then disappearing quickly, so the war can last forever or until the enemy leave south Lebanon.

4. Hizbullah's arsenal of rockets and missiles is intact as it was demonstrated yesterday (over 300 rockets and missiles on northern and central occupied Palestine) and also today.

5. Hizbullah's command and control over fighters and rocket launching units is intact, as evidenced in the two-day halt then the resumption starting from yesterday.

II. Threat to Target Tel Aviv with Long-Range Missiles

In reaction to today's Israeli threat to bomb Beirut, Nassrullah announced a counter-threat that Hizbullah will attack Tel Aviv with long-range Khaiber missiles if Beirut is attacked by Israeli warplanes. So far, Israelis left north Israel and took shelter in Tel Aviv. Now, Israelis have to leave Tel Aviv, if their leadership decides to escalate its aggression to include Beirut.

The rest of Nassrullah's speech will be updated shortly about the following points:

III. Two Israeli Great Achievements

In a sarcastic style, Shaikh Hassan Nassrullah said that he had to admit two Israeli great achievements.

First, they were capable to kill scores of civilians in Qana, most of them were women and children. He said that the Israelis said it was a mistake in information. He questioned that explanation saying what about the hundreds of civilians killed everywhere in Lebanon? He gave his explanation saying that this has been a deliberate Israel tactic to influence the morale of the Hizbullah resistance fighters as they see their families being massacred. What the Israelis don't know is that their war crimes against civilians increase the determination of the resistance fighters to defeat them.

The second disgraceful achievement of the Israelis was their air raid on Ba'albeck, in which they attacked the Dar El-Hikmah Hospital, following another wrong intelligence information that it was used as a Hizbullah command and control center. They were wrong and stupid. The hospital was empty because Hizbullah expected such an attack or an air raid on all Hizbullah facilities.

To maximize their stupidity, Nassrullah added, the Israeli acted on another wrong intelligence information. They attacked a house in Ba'albek owned by an elderly man called Hassan Nassrullah. They took him and other relatives as hostages with them. The Israeli raid was a perfect example about how much ignorant Israelis are to the extent of kidnapping a man and several members of his family just because of a name similarity with the Hizbullah leader, Hassan Nassrullah.

IV. Why did Olmert Start the War, Instead of Negotiating a Prisoner Swap?

Nassrullah said that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, suffers from an inferiority complex because he is not a military general, like his mentor Sharon. He wanted to prove that he has the same credentials of killing Arabs and destroying their cities like Sharon, instead of just negotiating a swap of war prisoners, like Sharon also did.

Nassrullah added that Olmert, Peres, and General Halutz lied to the Israeli people and are still lying to them. After 23 days of war on Lebanon, they haven't been able to free the two captured soldiers and they haven't been able to stop the Hizbullah rocket and missile attacks despite all their mighty military machine. He vowed that no return of the soldiers or halt in rocket and missile attacks without mutual ceasefire and negotiations.

V. A Word for the Israeli People

For the Israeli people, Nassrullah said that their leaders are lying to them. The war was unwarranted. They could have negotiated the release of the two soldiers, like they did before but they were encouraged to start the war by the Bush administration, which has its own agenda.

He promised the Israelis that if their leaders stop air raids on Lebanon, Hizbullah will stop its rocket and missile attacks on Israel, limiting the fighting to the south Lebanon region between Israeli ground troops and Hizbullah resistance fighters. But if their leaders continue their criminal air strikes on Lebanon, the Hizbullah missile attacks will continue and increase to include Tel Aviv from now on.

VI. Role of the Bush Administration (Bush, Rice, Chenney, Rumsfeld)

Nassrullah said that the Bush administration allowed the Israeli leaders to continue their air raids on the Lebanese for the last week, after they blocked international efforts to stop the war in the Rome and UN meetings.

As a result, the Bush administration (Bush, Rice, Chenney, and Rumsfeld) are responsible for the blood of the Lebanese children and women, which was shed in Qana and all over Lebanon ever since. They are as guilty as Olmert, Peres, and Halutz for the massacres of the Lebanese civilians.

Then, addressing the Israelis, he said that the Bush administration will not provide you with the help you wish for simply because it cannot help itself, as it is bogged in its endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

VII. A Word for Arab Rulers

Nassrullah also addressed the Arab rulers, particularly those who criticized the Hizbullah military operation, which resulted in the capture of the Israeli soldiers to swap them with the Lebanese prisoners in Israeli prisons.

He said that they need to help Lebanon and stand by Hizbullah, not for Hizbullah's sake but for the sake of what's remaining of their humanity. He added that they need to do it for the sake of their chairs and thrones because the Bush-Olmert New Middle East will destroy their countries and partition them on ethnic and sectarian lines, like what they are doing in Iraq.

VIII. A Word for Friends of Lebanon

Nassrullah thanked friends of Lebanon who are trying to provide humanitarian assistance and trying to make a ceasefire. He told them that the Lebanese people who died were not killed in a natural disaster, rather in an Israeli aggression. The Lebanese infrastructure was destroyed by the Israeli war machine, alluding to the fact that the aggressors have to pay for their crimes.

IX. A Word for the Lebanese People and the Ummah (Arabs and Muslims Worldwide)

Nassrullah asked the Lebanese, Arabs, and Muslims for their spiritual and material support and promised them of nothing short of victory.

Lobbying for Armageddon (Stupid Christians with $)

In a perfect world, a reporter at last week's press conference with George Bush and Tony Blair would have asked Bush, in the presence of his principal European ally, if he believes the European Union is the Antichrist.

Although it sounds like the kind of Pat Robertson lunacy that makes even the wingnuts run for the nearest exit, it's a question Bush should be forced to answer. Bush and other leading Republicans have lined up behind a growing movement of Christian Zionists for whom a European Antichrist figures prominently in an end-times scenario. So they should be forced to explain to the rest of us why they're courting the votes of people who believe our allies are evil incarnate. Could it be that the central requirement for their breathlessly anticipated Armageddon -- that the United States confront Iran -- happens to dovetail so nicely with the neoconservative war agenda?

At the center of it all is Pastor John Hagee, a popular televangelist who leads the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. While Hagee has long prophesized about the end times, he ratcheted up his rhetoric this year with the publication of his book, "Jerusalem Countdown," in which he argues that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. In the best-selling book, Hagee insists that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West. Shortly after the book's publication, he launched Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which, as the Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he said would cause "a political earthquake."

At CUFI's kick-off banquet at the Washington Hilton, attended by over 3,500 members, Republican support for both Hagee's effort and his drumbeat for war with Iran were on full view. Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman told the group that "no regime is more central to the global jihad" than Iran. Just two days before, Newt Gingrich and John McCain made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows to sound the same message, leading Benny Elon, a member of the Israeli Knesset, to comment to the Jerusalem Post that their remarks originated with Hagee. Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback also addressed the group, and Bush sent words of support to the gathering. Republicans, and even some Democrats, spoke at CUFI events to show their "support for Israel." But while public and media attention was on the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, Hagee's focus continued to be on Iran.

While the crisis at the Israel-Lebanon border drew more mainstream media attention to CUFI's activities, Hagee's supporters have long known that leading Republicans are listening. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a prominent Jewish ally of the evangelical right (and friend of Jack Abramoff) has said that Hagee "without question, yes, absolutely" has the ear of the White House. Hagee's annual Night to Honor Israel at his church has drawn prominent Republicans, including Tom DeLay, who was the keynote speaker in 2002.

Although Republicans would never admit it -- they claim their support for Christian Zionists like Hagee is based on their own support for Israel -- it is clear that they know they need the votes of this constituency to win. In the same way that Karl Rove courted conservative evangelicals in 2004 by appealing to their homophobia, Republican campaign rhetoric for 2006 and 2008 has already shown signs of playing to voters who have been hearing hype for a war with Iran for months -- at church.

While Washington insiders wonder what it means when Republicans like Mehlman and presidential aspirants Gingrich and McCain finger Iran as the central player in an epic clash of civilizations, Hagee already has spent months mobilizing the shock troops in support of another war. As diplomats, experts and pundits debate how many years Iran will need to develop a viable nuclear weapon, Hagee says the mullahs already possess the means to destroy Israel and America. And although Bush insists that diplomatic options are still on the table, Hagee has dismissed pussyfooting diplomacy and primed his followers for a conflagration.

Hagee wields "a very large megaphone" that reaches "a very large group of people," said Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee, who has studied the Christian right for 30 years. With CUFI, the pastor has exponentially expanded the reach of his megaphone beyond his television audience. Thanks to the viral marketing made possible by the hundreds of evangelical leaders who have signed on to his new organization, his warmongering has rippled through megachurches across America for months. Hagee calls pastors "the spiritual generals of America," an appropriate phrase given his reliance on them to rally their troops behind his message.

The CUFI board of directors includes the Rev. Jerry Falwell, former Republican presidential candidate and religious right activist Gary Bauer, and George Morrison, pastor of the 8,000-member Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colo., and chairman of the board of Promise Keepers. Rod Parsley, the Ohio televangelist who is rapidly becoming a major political player in the Christian right, signed on to be a regional director.

For Hagee's new project, his influence in Washington is probably less important than his influence over his audience. With the clout of his listeners, he can serve Bush administration hawks by firing up grassroots support for a military strike against Iran. Over 700,000 people purchased his book, "Jerusalem Countdown," and countless more have heard him promote it on Christian radio and television programming. Dramatic, doomsday advertising has been heard by listeners of Christian media as well as on Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly's radio programs. The pages of "Jerusalem Countdown" provide a peculiar mix of biblical prophecy, purported inside information from Israeli government officials and a mixed-up, pared-down lesson in nuclear physics.

"I wrote this book in April 2005, and when people read it, they will think I wrote it late last night after the FOX News report," says the author without a trace of irony. "It's that close to where we are and beyond."

Hagee speaks simultaneously to two audiences about Iran's nuclear capabilities: one that fears a terrorist attack by Iran and another that embraces a biblically mandated apocalypse. To impress the fearful, he mimics Bush's deceptions about Iraq's capacity to attack the United States with weapons of mass destruction, Condoleezza Rice's warnings of mushroom clouds, and Dick Cheney's dissembling about an alliance between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. Comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler, Hagee argues that Iran's development of nuclear weapons must be stopped to protect America and Israel from a nuclear attack. Preying on legitimate worries about terrorism, and invoking 9/11, he vividly describes a supposed Iranian-led plan to simultaneously explode nuclear suitcase bombs in seven American cities, or to use an electromagnetic pulse device to create "an American Hiroshima."

When addressing audiences receptive to Scriptural prophecy, however, Hagee welcomes the coming confrontation. He argues that a strike against Iran will cause Arab nations to unite under Russia's leadership, as outlined in chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Ezekiel, leading to an "inferno [that] will explode across the Middle East, plunging the world toward Armageddon." In Hagee's telling, Israel has no choice but to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities, with or without America's help. The strike will provoke Russia -- which wants Persian Gulf oil -- to lead an army of Arab nations against Israel. Then God will wipe out all but one-sixth of the Russian-led army, as the world watches "with shock and awe," he says, lending either a divine quality to the Bush administration phrase or a Bush-like quality to God's wrath.

But Hagee doesn't stop there. He adds that Ezekiel predicts fire "upon those who live in security in the coastlands." From this sentence, he concludes that there will be judgment upon all who stood by while the Russian-led force invaded Israel, and issues a stark warning to the United States to intervene: "Could it be that America, who refuses to defend Israel from the Russian invasion, will experience nuclear warfare on our east and west coasts?" He says yes, citing Genesis 12:3, in which God said to Israel: "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you."

To fill the power vacuum left by God's decimation of the Russian army, the Antichrist -- the head of the EU -- will rule "a one-world government, a one-world currency and a one-world religion" for three and a half years. (Hagee adds that "one need only be a casual observer of current events to see that all three of these things are coming into reality." The "demonic world leader" will then be confronted by a false prophet, identified by Hagee as China, at Armageddon, the Mount of Megiddo in Israel. As they prepare for the final battle, Jesus will return on a white horse and cast both villains -- and presumably any nonbelievers -- into a "lake of fire burning with brimstone," thus marking the beginning of his millennial reign.

Hagee doesn't fear a nuclear conflagration, but rather God's wrath for standing by as Iran executes its supposed plot to destroy Israel. A nuclear confrontation between America and Iran, which he says is foretold in the Book of Jeremiah, will not lead to the end of the world, but rather to God's renewal of the Garden of Eden. But Hagee is ultimately less concerned with the fate of Israel or the Jews than with a theocratic Christian right agenda. When Jesus returns for his millennial reign, he tells his television audience, "the righteous are going to rule the nations of the earth When Jesus Christ comes back, he's not going to ask the ACLU if it's all right to pray, he's not going to ask the churches if they can ordain pedophile bishops and priests, he's not going to ask if it's all right to put the Ten Commandments in the statehouses. He's not going to endorse abortion, he's going to run the world by the word of God The world will never end. It's going to become a Garden of Eden, and Christ is going to rule it."

Sarah Posner has covered the religious right for The American Prospect, The Gadflyer, and AlterNet. This article is adapted from "Pastor Strangelove," which appeared in the June 2006 issue of The American Prospect.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Before and After

These two satellite images provided by GeoEye show the same area of Beirut, Lebanon before and after Israeli bombardment. The image on the left was taken Wednesday July 12, 2006, and the image on the right was taken Monday July 31, 2006. (AP Photo/GeoEye)

Solidarity from Lima, Peru

Solidarity in Panama

Meanwhile in Palestine

Gaza: Israeli attack leaves at least 8 Palestinians dead including 8 year old boy: Israeli invaded southern Gaza early today, killing at least eight Palestinians, including four resistance fighters and an 8-year-old boy.

Almost half the fatalities in the Gaza Strip in July were civilians : 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.

Gaza: Israeli occupation forces kill 7 Palestinians : Including a 10-year-old boy. Video and text

Is America Watching a Different War? American, Lebanese and Israeli Panel on How the US Media is Covering the Invasion of Lebanon

Democracy Now, listen to the segment here. Download Show mp3 Watch 128k stream Watch 256k stream Read Transcript Help Printer-friendly version Email to a friend Purchase Video/CD

Some have suggested that Americans are watching a different war in Lebanon than much of the world. We’re joined by three panelists -- Peter Hart of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) in New York, Middle East Broadcasters editor Habib Battah in Beirut and Ha'aretz reporter Gideon Levy in Tel Aviv. [includes rush transcript] Continue.

No Peace Without Justice, No Justice Without Truth

Pulling the Plug on Israel

Whether or not it has reached critical mass, there exists a heterogeneous agglomeration of Jewish people around the world-- e.g., moi--for whom the state of Israel has come to represent an 800-pound albatross that needs to be pried from our necks before it drags us over a cliff. A sense of urgency is propelled by the U.S.-sanctioned bloodletting in Lebanon and Gaza (which now seems to have been planned in advance) and the evident flimsiness of its official justification. With Israeli adventurism on the march, there are well founded fears concerning the general threat that country poses to the peace of the world. Continue.

War crimes and Lebanon

Thursday August 3, 2006
The Guardian

The US-backed Israeli assault on Lebanon has left the country numb, smouldering and angry. The massacre in Qana and the loss of life is not simply "disproportionate". It is, according to existing international laws, a war crime.

The deliberate and systematic destruction of Lebanon's social infrastructure by the Israeli air force was also a war crime, designed to reduce that country to the status of an Israeli-US protectorate. The attempt has backfired. In Lebanon itself, 87% of the population now support Hizbullah's resistance, including 80% of Christian and Druze and 89% of Sunni Muslims, while 8% believe the US supports Lebanon. But these actions will not be tried by any court set up by the "international community" since the US and its allies that commit or are complicit in these appalling crimes will not permit it.

It has now become clear that the assault on Lebanon to wipe out Hizbullah had been prepared long before. Israel's crimes had been given a green light by the US and its loyal British ally, despite the opposition to Blair in his own country.

In short, the peace that Lebanon enjoyed has come to an end, and a paralysed country is forced to remember a past it had hoped to forget. The state terror inflicted on Lebanon is being repeated in the Gaza ghetto, while the "international community" stands by and watches in silence. Meanwhile, the rest of Palestine is annexed and dismantled with the direct participation of the US and the tacit approval of its allies.

We offer our solidarity and support to the victims of this brutality and to those who mount a resistance against it. For our part, we will use all the means at our disposal to expose the complicity of our governments in these crimes. There will be no peace in the Middle East while the occupations of Palestine and Iraq and the temporarily "paused" bombings of Lebanon continue.

As our political leaders argue over the difference between a "cessation of hostilities" and a "ceasefire", more and more children die. The British government (unlike the US) has agreed to be bound by the UN convention on the rights of the child. This is a legally enforceable international treaty which enshrines the "right to life" as one of its four core principles. I would be very interested to know how the government justifies its actions in relation to its responsibilities under the convention and why our new children's commissioners have remained silent on what appears to be a flagrant disregard of children's rights, as well as a breach of our international obligations.Professor Steve TrevillionUniversity of Leicester

What International Law? - Ambulances are hit by Israeli forces

Ambulances are hit by Israeli forces


Future History: A Glimpse of What U.S. Lebanon Policy Could Spawn

"It is very likely that the world will look back at the summer of 2006 as a seminal moment in Middle East history.
We may well be seeing, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.” But it is also quite possible a monster will be born.

The last time a U.S. administration tried to isolate and marginalize Syria and Iran, the result was the birth of Hezbollah, the dawn of suicide bombing and the humbling of a superpower. Now, America is at it again.
“Folly,” wrote historian Barbara Tuchman, is “the pursuit of policy contrary to self-interest.”
The Bush administration set out to redraw the map of the Middle East. Instead, it has set it on fire. Three weeks ago, Hezbollah was a militia/political party engaged in a domestic struggle to survive on the new Lebanese political landscape reshaped by the withdrawal of Syria’s forces. Today, it is the inspiration for a generation. Meanwhile, Iraq is becoming the new Afghanistan.
This is, President Bush tells us, “a moment of opportunity.” The question history will decide is, for whom? "

خطاب الأمين العام لحزب الله حسن نصر الله


Iraq's Shia in 'million man march'

"Shias from southern and central Iraq have begun travelling to Baghdad in answer to Muqtada al-Sadr's call for a "million man march" in support of Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Waving Iraqi flags and chanting "Death to America! Death to Israel", the demonstrators mounted convoys of buses and headed for the capital on Thursday, some of them wearing white shrouds symbolising their readiness to accept martyrdom.
The demonstration is to be held following Friday prayers in the teeming Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, home to some two million people, and comes at a tense time for the capital."

Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah will be making a speech on Al-Jazeera shortly.


Nasrallah threatens to strike Tel Aviv if Beirut is bombed.

Nasrallah: If Israel bombs Beirut, we`ll bomb Tel Aviv

We will launch missiles into cities south of Haifa
We will continue to launch rockets, with even greater force
Hezbollah fighters` ability to hold back IDF troops is a miracle
Hezbollah, IDF ground battles now more widespread, violent

When Prayer Is Not Enough

By The Rt. Rev. Riah H. Abu El-Assal
Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem

Dear Friends,

For the past forty years we have been largely alone on this desert fighting a predator that not only robbed us of all but a small piece of our historic homeland, but threatens the traditions and holy sites of Christianity. We are tired, weary, sick, and wounded. We need your help.

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The Neocons' next war

This is a very important article- Please read it

Aug. 3, 2006 | The National Security Agency is providing signal intelligence to Israel to monitor whether Syria and Iran are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah as it fires hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, according to a national security official with direct knowledge of the operation. President Bush has approved the secret program.

Inside the administration, neoconservatives on Vice President Dick Cheney's national security staff and Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative senior director for the Near East on the National Security Council, are prime movers behind sharing NSA intelligence with Israel, and they have discussed Syrian and Iranian supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli bombing of both countries, the source privy to conversations about the program says. (Intelligence, including that gathered by the NSA, has been provided to Israel in the past for various purposes.) The neoconservatives are described as enthusiastic about the possibility of using NSA intelligence as a lever to widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas into a four-front war.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is said to have been "briefed" and to be "on board," but she is not a central actor in pushing the covert neoconservative scenario. Her "briefing" appears to be an aspect of an internal struggle to intimidate and marginalize her. Recently she has come under fire from prominent neoconservatives who oppose her support for diplomatic negotiations with Iran to prevent its development of nuclear weaponry.

Rice's diplomacy in the Middle East has erratically veered from initially calling on Israel for "restraint," to categorically opposing a cease-fire, to proposing terms for a cease-fire guaranteed to conflict with the European proposal, and thus to thwarting diplomacy, prolonging the time available for the Israeli offensive to achieve its stated aim of driving Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon. But the neocon scenario extends far beyond that objective to pushing Israel into a "cleansing war" with Syria and Iran, says the national security official, which somehow will redeem Bush's beleaguered policy in the entire region.

In order to try to understand the neoconservative road map, senior national security professionals have begun circulating among themselves a 1996 neocon manifesto against the Middle East peace process. Titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," its half-dozen authors included neoconservatives highly influential with the Bush administration -- Richard Perle, first-term chairman of the Defense Policy Board; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense; and David Wurmser, Cheney's chief Middle East aide.

"A Clean Break" was written at the request of incoming Likud Party Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and intended to provide "a new set of ideas" for jettisoning the policies of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Instead of trading "land for peace," the neocons advocated tossing aside the Oslo agreements that established negotiations and demanding unconditional Palestinian acceptance of Likud's terms, "peace for peace." Rather than negotiations with Syria, they proposed "weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria." They also advanced a wild scenario to "redefine Iraq." Then King Hussein of Jordan would somehow become its ruler; and somehow this Sunni monarch would gain "control" of the Iraqi Shiites, and through them "wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria."

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U.S. to Supply Food with One Hand, Arms with Other by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS - As Israel's bombing of Lebanon continues unabated into its fourth consecutive week, the United States says it stands ready to provide food, medicine and humanitarian assistance to the thousands of internally displaced Lebanese caught in the crossfire. But Washington has also decided to accelerate the supply of lethal weapons to Israel -- ''perhaps intended to kill the very Lebanese the United States is planning to feed and shelter,'' says one Arab diplomat at the United Nations.

''It is U.S. hypocrisy at its worst,'' he told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity, because his country receives millions of dollars in U.S. economic aid.

''The right hand obviously does not know what its left hand is up to. Or does it?'' he asked.

Irene Khan, secretary-general of the London-based Amnesty International (AI), is equally harsh in her reaction. ''It is ridiculous to talk about providing humanitarian aid on the one hand, and to provide arms on the other,'' she says.

In the face of such human suffering in Lebanon and Israel, Khan says, ''It is imperative that all governments stop the supply of arms and weapons to both sides immediately.''

[click here to finish reading]


Human Rights Watch: Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon

This report documents serious violations of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in Lebanon between July 12 and July 27, 2006, as well as the July 30 attack in Qana. During this period, the IDF killed an estimated 400 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and that number climbed to over 500 by the time this report went to print. The Israeli government claims it is taking all possible measures to minimize civilian harm, but the cases documented here reveal a systematic failure by the IDF to distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Since the start of the conflict, Israeli forces have consistently launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious military gain but excessive civilian cost. In dozens of attacks, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some cases, the timing and intensity of the attack, the absence of a military target, as well as return strikes on rescuers, suggest that Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians.

The Israeli government claims that it targets only Hezbollah, and that fighters from the group are using civilians as human shields, thereby placing them at risk. Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack. Hezbollah occasionally did store weapons in or near civilian homes and fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers, which are serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. However, those cases do not justify the IDF’s extensive use of indiscriminate force which has cost so many civilian lives. In none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in this report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack.

By consistently failing to distinguish between combatants and civilians, Israel has violated one of the most fundamental tenets of the laws of war: the duty to carry out attacks on only military targets. The pattern of attacks during the Israeli offensive in Lebanon suggests that the failures cannot be explained or dismissed as mere accidents; the extent of the pattern and the seriousness of the consequences indicate the commission of war crimes.

This report is based on extensive on-the-ground research in Lebanon. Since the start of hostilities, Human Rights Watch has interviewed victims and witnesses of attacks in one-on-one settings, conducted on-site inspections (when security allowed), and collected information from hospitals, humanitarian groups, and government agencies. Human Rights Watch also conducted research in Israel, inspecting the IDF’s use of weapons and discussing the conduct of forces with IDF officials. The research was extensive, but given the ongoing war and the scope of the bombings, Human Rights Watch does not claim that the findings are comprehensive; further investigation is required to document the war’s complete impact on civilians and to assess the full scope of the IDF’s compliance with and disregard for international humanitarian law.

While not the focus of this report, Human Rights Watch has separately and simultaneously documented violations of international humanitarian law by Hezbollah, including a pattern of attacks that amount to war crimes. Between July 12, when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight, and July 27, the group launched a reported 1,300 rockets into predominantly civilian areas in Israel, killing 18 civilians and wounding more than 300. Without guidance systems for accurate targeting, the rockets are inherently indiscriminate when directed toward civilian areas, especially cities, and thus are serious violations of the requirement of international humanitarian law that attackers distinguish at all times between combatants and civilians. Some of these rockets, Human Rights Watch found, are packed with thousands of metal ball-bearings, which spray more than 100 meters from the blast and compound the harm to civilians.

This report analyzes a selection of Israeli air and artillery attacks that together claimed at least 153 civilian lives, or over a third of the reported Lebanese deaths in the conflict’s first two weeks. Of the 153 civilian deaths documented in this report by name, sixty-three of the victims were children under the age of eighteen, and thirty-seven of them were under ten. Israeli air strikes also killed many dual nationals who were vacationing in Lebanon when the fighting began, including Brazilian, Canadian, German, Kuwaiti, and U.S. citizens. The full death toll is certainly higher because medical and recovery teams have been unable to retrieve many bodies due to ongoing fighting and the dire security situation in south Lebanon.

The report breaks civilian deaths into two categories: attacks on civilian homes and attacks on civilian vehicles. In both categories, victims and witnesses interviewed independently and repeatedly said that neither Hezbollah fighters nor Hezbollah weapons were present in the area during or just before the Israeli attack took place. While some individuals, out of fear or sympathy, may have been unwilling to speak about Hezbollah’s military activity, others were quite open about it. In totality, the consistency, detail, and credibility of testimony from a broad array of witnesses who did not speak to each other leave no doubt about the validity of the patterns described in this report. In many cases, witness testimony was corroborated by reports from international journalists and aid workers. During site visits conducted in Qana, Srifa, and Tyre, Human Rights Watch saw no evidence that there had been Hezbollah military activity around the areas targeted by the IDF during or just prior to the attack: no spent ammunition, abandoned weapons or military equipment, trenches, or dead or wounded fighters. Moreover, even if Hezbollah had been in a populated area at the time of an attack, Israel would still be legally obliged to take all feasible precautions to avoid or minimize civilian casualties resulting from its targeting of military objects or personnel. In the cases documented in this report, however, the IDF consistently tolerated a high level of civilian casualties for questionable military gain.

In one case, an Israeli air strike on July 13 destroyed the home of a cleric known to have sympathy for Hezbollah but who was not known to have taken any active part in hostilities. Even if the IDF considered him a legitimate target (and Human Rights Watch has no evidence that he was), the strike killed him, his wife, their ten children, and the family’s Sri Lankan maid.

On July 16, an Israeli airplane fired on a civilian home in the village of Aitaroun, killing eleven members of the al-Akhrass family, among them seven Canadian-Lebanese dual nationals who were vacationing in the village when the war began. Human Rights Watch independently interviewed three villagers who vigorously denied that the family had any connection to Hezbollah. Among the victims were children aged one, three, five, and seven.

Others civilians came under attack in their cars as they attempted to flee the fighting in the South. This report alone documents twenty-seven civilian deaths that resulted from such attacks. The number is surely higher, but at the time the report went to press, ongoing Israeli attacks on the roads made it impossible to retrieve all the bodies.

Starting around July 15, the IDF issued warnings to residents of southern villages to leave, followed by a general warning for all civilians south of the Litani River, which mostly runs about 25 kilometers north of the Israel-Lebanon border, to evacuate immediately. Tens of thousands of Lebanese fled their homes to the city of Tyre (itself south of the Litani and thus within the zone Israel ordered evacuated) or further north to Beirut, many waving white flags. As they left, Israeli forces fired on dozens of vehicles with warplanes and artillery.

Two Israeli air strikes are known to have hit humanitarian aid vehicles. On July 18 the IDF hit a convoy of the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates, destroying a vehicle with medicines, vegetable oil, sugar and rice, and killing the driver. On July 23, Israeli forces hit two clearly marked Red Cross ambulances in the village of Qana.

As of August 1, tens of thousands of civilians remained in villages south of the Litani River, despite the warnings to leave. Some chose to stay, but the vast majority, Human Rights Watch found, was unable to flee due to destroyed roads, a lack of gasoline, high taxi fares, sick relatives, or ongoing Israeli attacks. Many of the civilians who remained were elderly, sick, or poor.

Israel has justified its attacks on roads by citing the need to clear the transport routes of Hezbollah fighters moving arms. Again, none of the evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch, independent media sources, or Israeli official statements indicate that any of the attacks on vehicles documented in this report resulted in Hezbollah casualties or the destruction of weapons. Rather, the attacks killed and wounded civilians who were fleeing their homes, as the IDF had advised them to do.

In addition to strikes from airplanes, helicopters, and traditional artillery, Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions against populated areas, causing civilian casualties. One such attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed a sixty-year-old woman and wounded at least twelve civilians, including seven children. The wide dispersal pattern of cluster munitions and the high dud rate (ranging from 2 to 14 percent, depending on the type of cluster munition) make the weapons exceedingly dangerous for civilians and, when used in populated areas, a violation of international humanitarian law.

Statements from Israeli government officials and military leaders suggest that, at the very least, the IDF has blurred the distinction between civilian and combatant, and is willing to strike at targets it considers even vaguely connected to the latter. At worst, it considers all people in the area of hostilities open to attack.

On July 17, for example, after IDF strikes on Beirut, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, Eliezer Shkedi, said, “in the center of Beirut there is an area which only terrorists enter into.”1 The next day, the IDF deputy chief of staff, Moshe Kaplinski, when talking about the IDF’s destruction of Beirut’s Dahia neighborhood, said, “the hits were devastating, and this area, which was a Hezbollah symbol, became deserted rubble.”2

On July 27, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said that the Israeli air force should flatten villages before ground troops move in to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers fighting Hezbollah. Israel had given civilians ample time to leave southern Lebanon, he claimed, and therefore anyone remaining should be considered a supporter of Hezbollah. “All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah,” he said.3

International humanitarian law requires effective advance warnings to the civilian population prior to an attack, when conditions permit. But those warnings do not way relieve Israel from its obligation at all times to distinguish between combatants and civilians and to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from harm. In other words, issuing warnings in no way entitles the Israeli military to treat those civilians who remain in southern Lebanon as combatants who are fair game for attack.

In addition to recommendations to the Israeli government and Hezbollah that they respect international humanitarian law, Human Rights Watch calls on the U.S. government immediately to suspend transfer of all arms that have been documented or credibly alleged to have been used in violation of international humanitarian law in Lebanon, as well as funding or support for such materiel, pending an end to the violations. Human Rights Watch calls upon the Iranian and Syrian governments to do the same with regards to military assistance to Hezbollah.

This report does not address Israeli attacks on Lebanon’s infrastructure or Beirut’s southern suburbs, which is the subject of ongoing Human Rights Watch research. It also does not address Hezbollah’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, which have been reported on and denounced separately and continues to be the subject of ongoing Human Rights Watch investigations. In addition, Human Rights Watch continues to investigate allegations that Hezbollah is shielding its military personnel and materiel by locating them in civilian homes or areas, and it is deeply concerned by Hezbollah’s placement of certain troops and materiel near civilians, which endangers them and violates the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. Human Rights Watch uses the occasion of this report to reiterate Hezbollah’s legal duty never to deliberately use civilians to shield military objects and never to needlessly endanger civilians by conducting military operations, maintaining troops, or storing weapons in their vicinity.

The armed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is governed by international treaties, as well as the rules of customary international humanitarian law. Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 sets forth minimum standards for all parties to a conflict between a state party such as Israel and a non-state party such as Hezbollah. Israel has also asserted that it considers itself to be responding to the actions of the sovereign state of Lebanon, not just to those of Hezbollah. Any hostilities between Israeli forces and the forces of Lebanon would fall within the full Geneva Conventions to which both Lebanon and Israel are parties. In either case, the rules governing bombing, shelling, and rocket attacks are effectively the same.

The Family That Stays Together Dies Together

By Robert Fisk

"The obscene score-card for death in this latest war now stands as follows: 508 Lebanese civilians, 46 Hizbollah guerrillas, 26 Lebanese soldiers, 36 Israeli soldiers and 19 Israeli civilians.
In other words, Hizbollah is killing more Israeli soldiers than civilians and the Israelis are killing far more Lebanese civilians than they are guerrillas. The Lebanese Red Cross has found 40 more civilian dead in the south of the country in the past two days, many of them with wounds suggesting they might have survived had medical help been available."

War of the Generals

By Uri Avnery

"THE SIMPLE truth is that up to now, the 22nd day of the war, not one single military target has been reached. The same army that took just six days to rout three big Arab armies in 1967 has not succeeded in overcoming a small "terrorist organization" in a time span that is already longer than the momentous Yom Kippur War. Then, the army succeeded in just 20 days in turning a stunning defeat at the beginning into a resounding military victory at the end.
In order to create an image of achievement, military spokesmen asserted yesterday that "we have succeeded in killing 200 (or 300, or 400, who is counting?) of the 1000 fighters of Hizbullah." The assertion that the entire terrifying Hizbullah consisted of one thousand fighters speaks for itself.
According to correspondents, President Bush is frustrated. The Israeli army has not "delivered the goods". Bush sent them into war believing that the powerful army, equipped with the most advanced American arms, will "finish the job" in a few days. It was supposed to eliminate Hizbullah, turn Lebanon over to the stooges of the US, weaken Iran and perhaps also open the way to "regime change" in Syria. No wonder that Bush is angry.
Ehud Olmert is even more furious. He went to war in high spirits and with a light heart, because the Air Force generals had promised to destroy Hizbullah and their rockets within a few days. Now he is stuck in the mud, and no victory in sight."

Time to Call It Quits


"After three weeks of devastating bombardment, Israel's much vaunted army finds itself unable to fight its way more than a few kilometers into Lebanon. The heavy resistance they have encountered on the ground is the most obvious explanation for why the Israelis prefer on the whole to go on dropping bombs on children from a safe distance: not only is it less dangerous, it also involves much less effort.
The "deep penetration" raid on Baalbeck was meant to show off the capabilities of Israel's armed forces, to make up for their humiliating performance on the ground and their repeated massacres of civilians from the air, including the refugees sheltering in Qana (an event whose cover story has gone through at least three variations, none of them convincing to anyone other than the Israelis themselves).
Instead, it left a hospital in ruins, more than a dozen civilians dead, and elite forces in possession of an unfortunate middle-aged shopkeeper and an assortment of his friends and relatives.
Surely this would be the right moment for Israel to give up and call it quits."

Halutz's Bombing War


""Israel is doomed," said a friend of mine some months ago, returning to the U.S. after a trip to Israel. I asked him why, and my friend, who spent twenty years working at a high level in the Pentagon, answered, "They've put in an Air Force man as chief of the General Staff."
He was talking about Dan Halutz, appointed chief of the General Staff of the IDF in February of this year.

The trouble is that history shows air power doesn't win wars, or even battles. The best known example is the bombing of Germany by the Americans and the British in World War Two. The plan, as advanced by Britain's Arthur "Bomber" Harris, was to kill a million Germans and paralyze industrial production. Harris began his career with the British bombing campaigns in Mesopotamia in the 1920s, then Palestine, against the Great Rising, in the 1930s.

Dan Halutz is in the LeMay tradition, a brutish lout. He raised a storm when he was asked what feelings, what moral tremors he might have had about the dropping of a one-ton bomb in a house in Gaza. Halutz's jaunty reply was to the effect that all he felt was "a slight tremor in the wing of the airplane."

So the brazen thug Halutz got the big job, just at the moment the Israeli high command was firming up plans for its long planned onslaught on Lebanon. It was Halutz who sold Olmert and Peretz on the fantasy of swift and devastating air force raids finishing off Hezbollah. "

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Smoke fills the air following air strikes on the Lebanese village ofAita al-Shaab, near the Israeli-Lebanese border. Israeli commandosstruck deep into Lebanon and snatched five suspected guerrillas in ahelicopter raid that provoked the heaviest rain of Hezbollah rocketfire in the 22-day-old conflict.(AFP/Denis Sinyakov)

A protester hangs a pacifier with a black ribbon to the gate of theUnited Nations House in Ankara August 2, 2006, during a demostrationagainst the killing of children as a result of the Israeli attacks onLebanon. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY)

A Lebanese boy stands next to coffins of Qana's victims who werekilled during an Israeli air raid on Sunday, at the GovernmentHospital in the port city of Tyre (Soure) August 2, 2006. The burialof Qana's victims was postponed due to security reasons. REUTERS/ZohraBensemra (LEBANON)

A Lebanese man holds the body of his child after he was killed duringan overnight Israeli airborne operation on the eastern Lebanese cityof Baalbeck, 60 miles (100 km) northeast of Beirut, August 2, 2006.Israeli commandoes snatched three Hizbollah members, killing 19civilians in the raid. REUTERS/Mohammed Solh

A Christian Jordanian girl holds a candle during a vigil, held insolidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinian people during thethree-week-old war between Israel and Lebanon's Hizbollah, in the townof Fehais on the outskirts of Amman August 2, 2006. REUTERS/AliJarekji (JORDAN)

The Mideast PR War

News on a Platter

By Matthias Gebauer in Israel

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.

The phone rings at 9 a.m. -- right on time. "Hello, this is the Government Press Office," pipes a woman's voice. "What are you planning to do today? Do you need an idea?" And then the suggestions just keep coming -- interview partners; a tour to the houses in Haifa that were struck by Katyusha rockets, complete with victim interviews. An expert will come along too, one who explains the nature of the rockets -- "in clean sound bites, if you want."

There's more on the plate. "The highlight is still to come," says the lady from Israel's press office, the GPO. "We can offer an interview in Naharya with the parents of the kidnapped soldiers," she says. She explains that the parents of Ehud Goldwasser, who has been held by Hezbollah since July 12, are waiting in a hotel. An interpreter? No need. "They speak good English, don't worry."

Many journalists come along, most of them by GPO bus. About 15 camera teams have set up their equipment. Twenty radio and print journalists are enjoying their coffee and the specially prepared sandwiches. Then the parents arrive. The father self-consciously steps up to the microphone. The desk in front of him bristles with microphones -- as if a politician were giving a press conference. He's sweating slightly; the veins on his forehead are bulging.

Shlomo Goldwasser doesn't have much to say -- not much more than the banal phrases security officials often teach parents so they stay on message. "They, my son's kidnappers, are responsible for Ehud's safety," Goldwasser says. "They are also responsible for returning him to us soon -- and unscathed." He says he can't think of anything else to tell us. He's a father, he says, not a politician.

"Please don't smile"

Goldwasser has barely finished speaking when a journalistic scrum erupts and cameramen start to shout. "Mr. Goldwasser, over here," one of them calls. "Please don't smile." Others want to hear childhood stories -- "It tugs on the viewers' heartstrings." Elsewhere, the man's wife has to leaf repeatedly through the family photo album. She responds to the orders given her like a robot and would presumably even start crying if she were told to do so. Fortunately no one makes such a request.

The disgraceful spectacle goes on for 90 minutes. The parents say they've got nothing to do with politics, nor with the war. They've been told appearances in public could save their son. And it's all organized and choreographed by the Israeli government's press office -- organized for foreign journalists, so that one of the reasons for the current war, the suffering of parents and civilians, receives the public attention it is due. But the parents, in this story, somehow come off only as extras.

Propaganda is a part of war -- especially when a state wants the world to see its decision to take up arms as justified and just. It's no different than the run up to the first Gulf War or the more recent war in Afghanistan -- or, more perfidiously, to the second US war against Iraq. Vast armies of public relations workers develop an emotionally charged image meant to provide media and public support for the conflict's architects. It's standard procedure -- public relations for war.

Not all the information circulated in such a controlled atmosphere, of course, is to be believed. But it's hard to criticize Israel for wanting to see victims of Hezbollah rockets -- 17 killed since the beginning of the war against the militant group -- in the media. Indeed it is precisely these victims that fuel the Israeli operations currently raging in southern Lebanon.

PR warriors take to the mountains

Still, Israel's support and supervision of foreign journalists seems downright excessive. As soon as you've received your press credentials from the GPO, you're bombarded with e-mails and phone calls. When covering other crisis regions, German reporters often have to make an effort to be extra nice and polite and have to search out interviewees and contacts themselves. Not here. In Israel, reporters are on an all-inclusive package trip -- and are well looked after.

Well-thought-out story ideas including transportation, lunch and selected military experts -- all these things are offered without ever having to be asked for. Many journalists happily accept the offer. For days, images of Israeli artillery units flickered on TV screens the world over -- one reason of course being that the PR warriors always took the camera teams to the frontlines around sunset. The soft, warm twilight is favored by camera men and photographers.

An e-mail that arrived on Wednesday is a good example. It offers no less than 11 news stories. The Israeli refugees, perhaps. Or the problems with Arab Israelis? A feature about how an entire village has been dispersed across Israel? A report on people who had to leave their houses? Former hostages? Or a village that has been shot at for decades? It's all available.

There's no need to go anywhere. "The contacts can be reached by phone," the woman from the press office says. "It's better to do it that way, especially for the radio." The organizers know exactly what the reporters want. Radio and TV journalists often have to go on air so often that they barely get a chance to leave the hotel. So when a Katyusha rocket strikes, an e-mail containing a list of eyewitnesses, complete with their mobile phone numbers, is more than welcome.

Language barriers are willingly breached as well. Every list includes eyewitnesses with different language profiles. There's plenty to choose from in an immigrant country like Israel: English, French, Spanish, Russian and of course several German speakers in every city. Laborious simultaneous translations are rendered superfluous by the service.

The Israeli public relations experts, though, have their work cut out for them. With public opinion turning against the Israelis following the bombing of the UN outpost in southern Lebanon, the country's use of excessive force is once again a major issue. And the war doesn't seem as though it will come to an end any time soon.

Cream of the American crop in Iraq...

Report to suggest Marines shot unarmed Iraqi women and children : Evidence collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.

Soldier says comrades threatened him: A U.S. soldier testified Wednesday that four of his colleagues accused of murdering three Iraqis during a raid threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the shooting deaths.

U.S. Army commander investigated in Iraq killing spree : Col. Michael Steele, whose heroics were portrayed in the movie "Black Hawk Down," is under investigation for allegedly encouraging his men to go on a killing spree.

Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon

By Anders Strindberg

As pundits and policymakers scramble to explain events in Lebanon, their conclusions are virtually unanimous: Hizbullah created this crisis. Israel is defending itself. The underlying problem is Arab extremism.

Sadly, this is pure analytical nonsense. Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's silent but unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of a six-decades long Arab-Israeli conflict.

Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports. Hizbullah's military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah's leadership; this indeed has been the pattern.

In the process of its violations, Israel has terrorized the general population, destroyed private property, and killed numerous civilians. This past February, for instance, 15-year-old shepherd Yusuf Rahil was killed by unprovoked Israeli cross-border fire as he tended his flock in southern Lebanon. Israel has assassinated its enemies in the streets of Lebanese cities and continues to occupy Lebanon's Shebaa Farms area, while refusing to hand over the maps of mine fields that continue to kill and cripple civilians in southern Lebanon more than six years after the war supposedly ended. What peace did Hizbullah shatter?

Hizbullah's capture of the soldiers took place in the context of this ongoing conflict, which in turn is fundamentally shaped by realities in the Palestinian territories. To the vexation of Israel and its allies, Hizbullah - easily the most popular political movement in the Middle East - unflinchingly stands with the Palestinians.

Since June 25, when Palestinian fighters captured one Israeli soldier and demanded a prisoner exchange, Israel has killed more than 140 Palestinians. Like the Lebanese situation, that flare-up was detached from its wider context and was said to be "manufactured" by the enemies of Israel; more nonsense proffered in order to distract from the apparently unthinkable reality that it is the manner in which Israel was created, and the ideological premises that have sustained it for almost 60 years, that are the core of the entire Arab-Israeli conflict.

Once the Arabs had rejected the UN's right to give away their land and to force them to pay the price for European pogroms and the Holocaust, the creation of Israel in 1948 was made possible only by ethnic cleansing and annexation. This is historical fact and has been documented by Israeli historians, such as Benny Morris. Yet Israel continues to contend that it had nothing to do with the Palestinian exodus, and consequently has no moral duty to offer redress.

For six decades the Palestinian refugees have been refused their right to return home because they are of the wrong race. "Israel must remain a Jewish state," is an almost sacral mantra across the Western political spectrum. It means, in practice, that Israel is accorded the right to be an ethnocracy at the expense of the refugees and their descendants, now close to 5 million.

Is it not understandable that Israel's ethnic preoccupation profoundly offends not only Palestinians, but many of their Arab brethren? Yet rather than demanding that Israel acknowledge its foundational wrongs as a first step toward equality and coexistence, the Western world blithely insists that each and all must recognize Israel's right to exist at the Palestinians' expense.

Western discourse seems unable to accommodate a serious, as opposed to cosmetic concern for Palestinians' rights and liberties: The Palestinians are the Indians who refuse to live on the reservation; the Negroes who refuse to sit in the back of the bus.

By what moral right does anyone tell them to be realistic and get over themselves? That it is too much of a hassle to right the wrongs committed against them? That the front of the bus must remain ethnically pure? When they refuse to recognize their occupier and embrace their racial inferiority, when desperation and frustration causes them to turn to violence, and when neighbors and allies come to their aid - some for reasons of power politics, others out of idealism - we are astonished that they are all such fanatics and extremists.

The fundamental obstacle to understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict is that we have given up on asking what is right and wrong, instead asking what is "practical" and "realistic." Yet reality is that Israel is a profoundly racist state, the existence of which is buttressed by a seemingly endless succession of punitive measures, assassinations, and wars against its victims and their allies.

A realistic understanding of the conflict, therefore, is one that recognizes that the crux is not in this or that incident or policy, but in Israel's foundational and per- sistent refusal to recognize the humanity of its Palestinian victims. Neither Hizbullah nor Hamas are driven by a desire to "wipe out Jews," as is so often claimed, but by a fundamental sense of injustice that they will not allow to be forgotten.

These groups will continue to enjoy popular legitimacy because they fulfill the need for someone - anyone - to stand up for Arab rights. Israel cannot destroy this need by bombing power grids or rocket ramps. If Israel, like its former political ally South Africa, has the capacity to come to terms with principles of democracy and human rights and accept egalitarian multiracial coexistence within a single state for Jews and Arabs, then the foundation for resentment and resistance will have been removed. If Israel cannot bring itself to do so, then it will continue to be the vortex of regional violence.

• Anders Strindberg, formerly a visiting professor at Damascus University, Syria, is a consultant on Middle East politics working with European government and law-enforcement agencies. He has also covered Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories as a journalist since the late 1990s, primarily for European publications.

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