Sunday, June 3, 2007

To be Palestinian in Lebanon is to be wished a thousand deaths

Sami Hermez writing from Baddawi Refugee Camp, Live from Lebanon, 2 June 2007

"I have been to the Baddawi camp twice now. It is swarming with people and has more than doubled in population. The future of the camp is bleak and according to the World Health Organization the likelihood of disease is high, and there is limited water and electricity. The number of civilian deaths in the Nahr al-Bared camp is difficult to determine due to a media blackout; my last check saw a range between 17 and 40, but today's indiscriminate bombing from land and sea has certainly increased this figure. In the Lebanese daily An-Nahar, on 31 May, there was a single story that only reported the details of the deaths of Lebanese soldiers. The official number from the Lebanese army over last weekend was a resounding one civilian death.

By denying Palestinian civilian deaths we effectively commit a double crime: The first is the indiscriminate death of the victim; the second is the denial of this original crime. I suppose the victim is meant to carry a camera and document her own death to truly confirm it in the public's eyes......

To be Palestinian in Lebanon is to be wished a thousand deaths and hunted a million times......

The Lebanese army is committing crimes in the Nahr al-Bared camp and the Lebanese are silent. Perhaps the Lebanese should imagine the camp was a Beirut neighborhood and Fatah al-Islam was hiding, lets say, in Ashrafieh or the Hamra area. They should then ask themselves if they would be calling on the army to use the same methods to get rid of the group......

The Palestinians cannot be punished for their leadership's incompetence. Otherwise, we should ask if the Lebanese people should be punished for their leadership's incompetence. The Lebanese army can take a stand but it needs to do so within the rules of war. If it cannot, then it should not fight a battle it cannot win.

......The people are to fault for their silence and the government for its unaccountable behavior, its inability to govern its own affairs and then blaming it on everyone else, and its direct or indirect complicity in the arming of Fatah al-Islam. Again, I call for a full investigation of the recent events and into the dealings of the top politicians (Opposition and March 14) in the country. With no accountability there will always be political space for militias to harvest.

Note: In the meantime, tonight we are beginning to hear that things in the Ein al-Hilweh camp in the South are starting to flare up. None of this is making sense; something is definitely not right!"

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