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Capt. (Res.) Amir Paster Imprisoned

Capt. (Res.) Amir Paster (32) an infantry officer and student at Tel Aviv University, has been sentenced to 28 days in military prison for refusal to take part in the current Lebanon campaign.

At his trial, Capt. Paster declared that "taking part in this war runs contrary to the values upon which he was brought up".

Speaking on behalf of the refusenik support group Yesh Gvul, movement spokesman Ishai Menuchin reported contacts with about a dozen reserve officers and soldiers who have received emergency call-up and plan to refuse to take part in the Lebanon operation.

You have been warned


When hundreds of thousands of people are warned, and women and children are warned, of the bombs and missiles and shells that are about to land on their heads, one must consider the fact that not all of them will flee. It is not so easy to leave home - and who will save those fleeing from the dangers lying in wait along the road? It has happened, and recently, that South Lebanon's refugees were attacked and killed on their miserable way north, and in those cases too we really didn't mean it - sorry! - and we expressed regret.

The contemptible Hassan Nasrallah has also warned us here in northern Israel. He has launched about 2,000 warnings in the form of rockets at our address in the past 20 days, apparently expecting us to be gripped by terror and to get the hint. Some did not understand, didn't want to or couldn't understand it: the elderly and frail and sick and poor and disabled and children with special needs and their parents couldn't. Nor could the owners of chicken coops or orchards, still desperately hoping to save the remnants of their living. Nor could all sorts of stubborn, infuriatingly obstinate people - those not interested in being refugees in their own land.

Latest news


Israel has violated its own cease fire follozing the heinous massacre in Qana. Tsahal killed three Lebanese soldiers, and Amir Peretz (I remember secretly hoping he would be PM) expressed regret, as the army had thought they were Hezbollah militants...

If only the Lebanese army had super power backing and shipments of high tech war toys. Then perhaps it could fight back in 'self defense'...


Full article

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they'll get some fighters, too. The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes.But other attacks seem gratuitous, fishing expeditions, or simply intended to punish anything and anyone even vaguely connected to Hezbollah. Lighthouses, grain elevators, milk factories, bridges in the north used by refugees, apartment buildings partially occupied by members of Hezbollah's political wing -- all have been reduced to rubble. In the south, where Shiites dominate, just about everyone supports Hezbollah.

The nation is 40 percent Shiite, and of that 40 percent, tens of thousands are employed by Hezbollah's social services, political operations, schools, and other nonmilitary functions. The "terrorist" organization Hezbollah is Lebanon's second-biggest employer.

The Hezbollah guys, on the other hand, know that letting their fighters near outsiders of any kind -- journalists or Lebanese, even Hezbollah supporters -- is stupid.

Hezbollah's political members say they have little or no access to the workings of the fighters. This seems to be largely true: While they obviously hear and know more than the outside world, the firewall is strong. Israel, however, has chosen to treat the political members of Hezbollah as if they were fighters. And by targeting the civilian wing of the group, which supplies much of the humanitarian aid and social protection for the poorest people in the south, they are targeting civilians.

So the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah "hiding within the civilian population" clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don't know what they're talking about. Hezbollah doesn't trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield.

Robert Fisk From Qana

Full article

The Israelis had dropped leaflets over Qana, ordering its people to leave their homes. Yet twice now since Israel's onslaught began, the Israelis have ordered villagers to leave their houses and then attacked them with aircraft as they obeyed the Israeli instructions and fled. There are at least 3,000 Shia Muslims trapped in villages between Qlaya and Aiteroun ­ close to the scene of Israel's last military incursion at Bint Jbeil ­ and yet none of them can leave without fear of dying on the roads.

On Thursday, the Israeli Army's Al-Mashriq radio, which broadcasts into southern Lebanon, told residents that their villages would be "totally destroyed" if missiles were fired from them. But anyone who has watched Israel's bombing these past two weeks knows that, in many cases, the Israelis do not know the location in which the Hizbollah are firing missiles, and ­ when they do ­ they frequently miss their targets. How can a villager prevent the Hizbollah from firing rockets from his street? The Hizbollah do take cover beside civilian houses ­ just as Israeli troops entering Bint Jbeil last week also used civilian homes for cover. But can this be the excuse for slaughter on such a scale?


Dissenting voice

Yaba Yaba

What now? Simple. Ulmert and Peretz are responsible. Ulmert and Peretz must go. If we Israelis want the world to know that this was not done in our name, that’s the only way to go.

Are we forgetting Gaza?


More than 100 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians, in Israeli air strikes and incursions since Palestinian militants kidnapped a young Israeli soldier more than a month ago.

The intense attacks on Lebanon have overshadowed the continuing violence in the Gaza Strip, the BBC's Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi reports.

Wrong target


Haq reportedly shouted about his anger toward Jews, toward Israel and its war in Lebanon, and toward U.S. policy in Iraq. One woman, Pam Waechter, 58, the federation's assistant director, was killed, and five other women were injured.

Jews are not guilty of this. Neither are Israeli citizens. I hope Israeli citizens feel responsible enough to speak out, though. I know some already do.

And what do the Israeli government and media call the callous attack on Qana? An incident. MOFA
Eighteen Israeli civilians have been killed and over 400 have been wounded by these rocket attacks which have disrupted the lives of tens of thousands of Israeli citizens.
What beggars belief most, is that the so called democratic leaders of Israel are allowed to get away with such sickening justification for killing hundreds and wounding and displacing hundreds more. So, they gave a warning to residents to move north of the Litani. Wow. What roads will the residents use to get to the north which has also been bombed? Where will they get petrol? How will they afford it? But there's no need to counter such justifications, since it is quite obvious Israeli leaders are only paying lip service to justifying their actions. No need to: the US and Britain will stand behind Israel no matter what.

Arutz Sheva doesn't want to be left behind in the callousness game

Lebanon Seeking to Escalate Qana Incident

Robert Fisk from Lebanon

Full article

What was it Condoleezza Rice said? That "a hasty ceasefire would not be a good thing"? What was Blair's pathetic excuse at the G8 summit? That it was much better to have a ceasefire that would last than one which might break down? Yes, I entirely understand. Blair and his masters - we shall give Rice a generic title to avoid the obvious - regard ceasefires not as a humanitarian step to alleviate and prevent suffering but as a weapon, as a means to a political end.
Let the war last longer and the suffering grow greater - let compassion be postponed - and the Lebanese (and, most laughably, the Hizbollah) will eventually sink to their knees and accept the West's ridiculous demands. And one of those famous American "opportunities" for change - ie for humbling Iran - will have been created.


Martyn Turner of the Irish Times

Quote for today

Knocker O'Connell quoted by Tony Benn

'F' stands for Freedom, what Britain brags about
If you can't afford your dinner
Your free to go without


Israeli Opposition

Yesh Gvul

Dear friend,

Saturday's peace march in Tel Aviv was mounted by a coalition of left-wing parties and non-parliamentary peace groups, Yesh Gvul included. Participation turned out much larger than anyone had foreseen ("over 2,500" according to Ha'aretz, "almost 5000" by Uri Avnery).

Bystanders looked on in amazement as the noisy demonstration chanted slogans against the war (one offered a Hebrew version of a Vietnam era cry: "Defence Minister Amir Peretz, how many kids have you killed so far ?"). The Israeli media have promoted the false impression of 100% unity behind the attack on Lebanon, and citizens seemed stunned to hear such outright voices of dissent.

Among the speakers at the concluding rally, Yesh Gvul coordinator Ishai Menuchin focussed on the war crimes being committed daily, calling on soldiers to refuse any part in such excesses, and warning that perpetrators will ultimately face justice, before Israeli courts if possible; if not, he promised that the movement would act to bring them before foreign courts.

Further protests are in preparation. The anti-war coalition is determined to step up its efforts, and we rely on our friends and supporters worldwide to spread the word about internal Israeli opposition to the war. We need your help and solidarity !

We will also be thankful for donations. details appear here:
Members of the Coalition:
Yesh-Gvul, Maki, ICAHD, Hadash, Women's Coalition For Peace, Gush-Shalom, Tandi,Bat-Shalom, Banki, AIC, Combatants For Peace, Shministim, Taayush


Media Bias


But in the BBC’s lexicon, escalation has nothing to do with the enormous destruction Israel can unleash on Lebanon; only the occasional, smaller-scale blow Hizbullah scores against Israel.

At noon James Reynolds as good as gave the game away: the Hizbullah strike on Haifa, he said, proved that the rockets are “no longer just an irritant”. Now it was clear why a “serious escalation” had begun: Israel was actually being harmed by Hizbullah’s rockets rather than just irritated. Until then the harm had been mainly inflicted on Lebanese civilians, so no escalation was taking place.

It wasn’t till the 7pm news that I saw meaningful images from Lebanon, as Gavin Hewitt followed a fire crew trying to put out an enormous oil refinery blaze in Tyre. Although we saw some of the suffering of the Lebanese population, the anchor felt obliged to preface the scenes from Lebanon with the statement that they were Israeli “retaliation” for the Haifa attack, even though Israel had been launching such strikes for four days before the lethal rocket strike on Haifa.

In the same broadcast, an Israeli cabinet minister, Shaul Mofaz, was given air time to make the claim that parts of the rockets that landed in Haifa were Syrian-made. Allegations by the Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud, widely shown on Arab TV that Israel had been using phosphorus incendiary bombs -- illegal under international law -- received no coverage at all.

Israeli precision


UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says.

The post was hit by a precision-guided missile after six hours of shelling, diplomats familiar with the probe say.

Israel is conducting an investigation into the incident.

It has rejected accusations made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the targeting of the UN position was "apparently deliberate".
Why conduct an investigation if it already knows the outcome?
The familiar justification for killing non-combatants is, that fighters are hiding amongst them. So, we are meant to believe, that bombing indiscriminately is the only solution. What exactly has this 'solution' led to, other than killing innocent civilians and aid workers? Has it increased the safety of israeli civilians? And does Tsahal actually believe Red Cross ambulances are hiding Hezbollah fighters?


And how come - since this now obsesses the humanitarian organisations working in Lebanon - that the Israelis bombed two ambulances in Qana, killing two of the wounded inside and wounding the third civilian for the second time in a day. All the crews were injured - one with a piece of shrapnel in his neck - but what worried the Lebanese Red Cross was that the Israeli missiles had clearly pierced the very centre of the red cross painted on the roof of each vehicle. Did the pilots use the cross as their aiming point?


Thirteenth day


At least 362 Lebanese, the great majority civilians, have been killed during the conflict, which is now into its 13th day. Thirty-seven Israelis have been killed, about half of them civilians.
Israeli soldiers are captured and it's headline news the world over. Israel kidnaps enemy combatants and it's 'another development' .

In other developments:

Israel said it has captured two Hezbollah militants




Al-Hayat reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin met in Jordan, where Diskin promised to release large number of Palestinian prisoners, including prisoners "with blood on their hands," directly responsible for Israeli deaths.
If Corporal Gilad Shalit doesn't have palestinian blood on his hands, it is likely that, if he is released and resumes his job, he will do before long.



Egyptian Pharaohs


Rassemblement pour la Démocratie au Liban

All exits and entrances out of and into Lebanon are being bombed. The Lebanese need all the help they can get. The RDL are purchasing as many goods as possible in Lebanon.
The ICRC also needs help.


Yet another whitewash


Is there anything the authorities are willing to take the blame for? After the racist handling of the Stephen Lawrence case, the death of Dr Kelly, Britain takes another step towards a police state where dissent is not tolerated and covered up.

A comment on The Perpetual Refugee

The Perpetual Refugee

i just wanted to add my voice to the other israelies (too few of them, i admit) who are terrified by this war and by what our government is doing to lebanon and to the lebanese people. i want to say it is not done in our name. it is not for our good. it is just a futile bloodshed used to give a war record to our prime minister and minister of defense.
and i know i have nothing to say in my defence.
all this sounds really very lame after looking at the pictures you show here...
i really cannot find the right words, and the fault is not only that of my unpracticed english...
be brave and take care.

Praying IDF comabatant

By the way, what is this thing about Tsahal being a 'defence' force? Japan only has a 'defence' force. It's constitution forbids the use of force for anything but defence. Hardly the case in Israel...


But the main problem is political. Israel is currently waging the most just war in its history. Not a war of occupation, but rather a war of defense. Not a settlements war, but rather a Green Line war. A war over the validity of an international border that was drawn, defined and recognized by the United Nations. Therefore, anyone who yearns for Israel to withdraw in future from occupied territories to recognized permanent borders must stand by Israel in this war. Anyone who wants peace, stability and an end to the occupation must back up Israel in its just war. The alternative is a violent and hemorrhaging Middle East chaos.
Whaaaat?! Destroying a country in retaliation for the kidnap of a couple of combatants and the shooting of a few short-range rockets is 'defence'? Has Haaretz taken leave of its senses?

Not quite.


Every neighborhood has one, a loudmouth bully who shouldn't be provoked into anger. He's insulted? He'll pull out a knife. Spat in the face? He'll draw a gun. Hit? He'll pull out a machine gun. Not that the bully's not right - someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction! It's not that he's not feared, but nobody really appreciates him. The real appreciation is for the strong who don't immediately use their strength. Regrettably, the Israel Defense Forces once again looks like the neighborhood bully. A soldier was abducted in Gaza? All of Gaza will pay. Eight soldiers are killed and two abducted to Lebanon? All of Lebanon will pay. One and only one language is spoken by Israel, the language of force.

But does the fact that Hezbollah is a cynical organization that exploits the misery of Palestinians for its own purposes justify the disproportionate reaction? The concept that we have totally forgotten is proportionality. While we're in no hurry to get to the negotiating table, we're eager to get to the battlefield and the killing without delay, without taking any time to think. That deepens suspicions that we need a war every few years, with terrifying repetition, even if afterward we end up back in exactly the same position.



Israel the untouchable

Mr Blair said the force could "stop the bombardment coming over into Israel and therefore gives Israel a reason to stop its attacks on Hezbollah".
No, Mr Blair, Israel is not attacking just Hezbollah, it is attacking the whole of Lebanon and its people. For that there is no, I repeat no justification. Send peacekeepers to southern Lebanon, by all means, and send them to northern Israel. Send them to the israeli border with Gaza. Send them to Jerusalem.

The arrogance!


Israeli planes have bombed the Palestinian Foreign Ministry building in Gaza City for the second time in less than a week.
The message from Israel is this: kidnap one of our soldiers, and we will bomb the shit out of you, your citizens, your infrastructure. These are the actions not of a country afraid of being 'driven into the sea', but rather of a bully in the playground.

Israeli tactics?

I didn't want to believe Hoda when she said Israel was trying to forment divisions among Lebanese by dropping leaflets calling people to leave certain areas. I'm not so sure anymore.

I have relatively little insight into the current goings on, even if I follow them quite closely. Like many, I am subject to what the media wishes to share or not share. I do think, however, that Israel seeks to ignore the fact, as the US does in its relations with the world, that while Hizbullah may be run by power-thirsty individuals, it is more than that. It does not come out of a vacuum. There are reasons why such organisations exist. These reasons are support from ordinary individuals. Lebanon is a multi-ethnic and multi-faith society, but it is also an arab country, and naturally, Arabs (though not only Arabs) feel sympathy for other Arabs who are oppressed by Israel and the US. The suffering of Palestinians in the occupied territories strike a chord with Lebanese particularly as they themselves have already in the past suffered because of Israel and the US. Therefore, support for Hizbullah is natural, even if many Lebanese despise Hizbullah, Syria and Iran (I am presuming these countries are in fact behind Hizbullah, even though all I have to believe that is what is relayed by the media).
What I am getting at, is, that the israeli army, by bombing links between individuals within Lebanon, seems to be attempting to drive them apart, perhaps thinking, that this will create a wedge between Hizbullah and the Lebanese people. This is at best foolish, as is obvious from the comments of Lebanese citizens on the web who despite loathing Hizbullah choose to support them in this case, as Hizbullah seems to be the only ones defending Lebanon from israeli aggression. Indeed, the Lebanese army is apparently relatively weak, and naturally doesen't wish to risk the total anihilation of the country. Hizbullah obviously has little to risk, since its real objectives are not the safety of Lebanon.
If Israel really wished to guarantee its safety, it would be well advised to start by treating others with respect. What many don't know, is, that prior to the kidnapping of the soldier in Gaza, israeli soldiers entered Gaza and kidnapped two Palestinians suspected by Israel of being militants. This is not news apparently, yet when an israeli combatant is kidnapped, it is treated as an outrage. Talk about propaganda!
Furthermore, it would be far more intelligent for Israel and its ally the US to cooperate with Lebanon, without seeking to forment divisions within this multicultural society.
Hardly anything Israel or the US have done in their history reflects a desire to bring peace to their shores or to the world. Remember: terror is not practised only by organisations. The greatest number of acts of terror in the history of the world have been committed by states against civilians.


Presidents defend their back yards


The US president, in St Petersburg for the G8 summit, has insisted Israel is defending itself against terror and Hezbollah is the root of the crisis.

Speaking before the first summit working meeting of the day, France's president said that forces "who jeopardise the security, stability and sovereignty of Lebanon must be stopped".

Of course I agree with Chirac on this one, but as with his opposition to the war on Iraq I am have no illusions regarding his motives. Chirac, like Bush and like most political leaders worldwide has strategic concerns, both political and financial.

Click here

Counting the dead


Rockets fired by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon have killed at least nine people and wounded dozens of others in the coastal Israeli city of Haifa.

thus bringing the total tally to fifteen or so...

Meanwhile, Israeli jets have hit targets in the south of the Lebanese capital Beirut, including Hezbollah's al-Manar TV and a power station.

At least 100 Lebanese, most of them civilians, have been killed in five days of Israeli air strikes.

The Israeli air raids began after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers.


What's news?

The kidnapping of israeli corporal Gilad Shalit is well known. What is not well known is the kidnapping the previous day in Gaza of a palestinian doctor and his brother by the israeli soldiers.

News 24

The father of the two detained said he awoke to see Israeli soldiers scaling the walls of his compound in southern Gaza.

He said they handcuffed and beat him and then searched his home, confiscating his computer and detaining his two sons.

I had thought Israel had withdrawn from Gaza and Palestinians had elected their own government. So why is this incursion into a sovereign 'state' and the kidnapping of two of its citizens hardly reported, yet the response is reported as if it was an unprovoked attack?

Thirteen more Lebanese die


This must bring the total to over 80 civilians dead-88 according to the Houston Chronicle- vs under ten israeli civilians-four according to the same source.

Furthermore in the same article an israeli official is said to claim iranian soldiers helped fire rockets at Israel. Again, I would condemn the bombing of civilians anywhere, but is it likely Israel will attack Iran, at least without US consent? Somehow I doubt it. I could be wrong, of course, and nothing would surprise me at this point.



I beg your pardon, Shimon?


"The U.N. has already said Israel has fulfilled all the United Nations resolutions to the latest point, and the one who didn't do so was Lebanon," Peres said. "So I don't see anything that the United Nations can do about it."

For a list of Israeli non-compliances and US vetoes, click here

As for Lebanon, perhaps it could control its border more easily if it had the might of Israel and the military support of Israels biggest ally, the US. Also, if Israel refrained from killing dozens of innocent civilians in Gaza in retaliation for the kidnapping of Israeli combatants then perhaps Hezbollah would have less support. Finally, whatever happened to the supposed syrian and iranian financial and political support for Hezbollah? What is Israel waiting for? This is obviously meant to be ironic, I do not condone the killing of innocent civilians in any country or any place.

Meanwhile in Britain


Individual police officers involved in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes will not be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter, it is being reported.

But prosecutors are expected to announce the Metropolitan Police will be charged with breaching health and safety laws, says the Guardian.

More from Fisk

What I am watching in Lebanon each day is an outrage

By Robert Fisk in Mdeirej, Central Lebanon

Published: 15 July 2006

The beautiful viaduct that soars over the mountainside here has become a " terrorist" target. The Israelis attacked the international highway from Beirut to Damascus just after dawn yesterday and dropped a bomb clean through the central span of the Italian-built bridge ­ a symbol of Lebanon's co-operation with the European Union ­ sending concrete crashing hundreds of feet down into the valley beneath. It was the pride of the murdered ex-prime minister Rafik Hariri, the face of a new, emergent Lebanon. And now it is a " terrorist" target.

So I drove gingerly along the old mountain road towards the Bekaa yesterday ­ the Israeli jets were hissing through the sky above me ­ turned the corner once I rejoined the highway, and found a 50ft crater with an old woman climbing wearily down the side on her hands and knees, trying to reach her home in the valley that glimmered to the east. This too had become a " terrorist" target.

It is now the same all over Lebanon. In the southern suburbs ­ where the Hizbollah, captors of the two missing Israeli soldiers, have their headquarters ­ a massive bomb had blasted off the sides of apartment blocks next to a church, splintering windows and crashing balconies down on to parked cars. This too had become a "terrorist" target.

One man was brought out shrieking with pain, covered in blood. Another " terrorist" target. All the way to the airport were broken bridges, holed roads. All these were "terrorist" targets. At the airport, tongues of fire blossomed into the sky from aircraft fuel storage tanks, darkening west Beirut. These too were now "terrorist" targets. At Jiyeh, the Israelis attacked the power station. This too was a " terrorist" target.

Yet when I drove to the actual headquarters of the Hizbollah, a tall building in Haret Hreik, it was totally undamaged. Only last night did the Israelis manage to hit it.

So can the Lebanese be forgiven ­ can anyone here be forgiven ­ for believing that the Israelis have a greater interest in destroying Lebanon than they do in their two soldiers?

No wonder Middle East Airlines, the national Lebanese airline, put crews into its four stranded Airbuses at Beirut airport early yesterday and sneaked them out of the country for Amman before the Israelis realised they were under power and leaving.

European politicians have talked about Israel's "disproportionate" response to Wednesday's capture of its soldiers. They are wrong. What I am now watching in Lebanon each day is an outrage. How can there be any excuse ­ any ­ for the 73 dead Lebanese civilians blown apart these past three days?

The same applies, of course, to the four Israeli civilians killed by Hizbollah rockets. But ­ please note ­ the exchange rate of Israeli civilian lives to Lebanese civilian lives now stands at one to more than 15. This does not include two children atomised in their home in Dweir on Thursday whose bodies cannot be found. Their six brothers and sisters were buried yesterday, with their mother and father. Another "terrorist" target. So was a neighbouring family with five children who were also buried yesterday. Another "terrorist" target.

Terrorist, terrorist, terrorist. There is something perverse about all this, the slaughter and the massive destruction and the self-righteous, constant, cancerous use of the word "terrorist". No, let us not forget that the Hizbollah broke international law, crossed the Israeli border, killed three Israeli soldiers, captured two others and dragged them back through the border fence. It was an act of calculated ruthlessness that should never allow Hizbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, to grin so broadly at his press conference. It has brought unparalleled tragedy to countless innocents in Lebanon. And of course, it has led Hizbollah to fire at least 170 Katyusha rockets into Israel.

But what would happen if the powerless Lebanese government had unleashed air attacks across Israel the last time Israel's troops crossed into Lebanon? What if the Lebanese air force then killed 73 Israeli civilians in bombing raids in Ashkelon, Tel Aviv and Israeli West Jerusalem? What if a Lebanese fighter aircraft bombed Ben Gurion airport? What if a Lebanese plane destroyed 26 road bridges across Israel? Would it not be called " terrorism"? I rather think it would. But if Israel was the victim, it would probably also be World War Three.

Of course, Lebanon cannot attack Tel Aviv. Its air force comprises three ancient Hawker Hunters and an equally ancient fleet of Vietnam-era Huey helicopters. Syria, however, has missiles that can reach Tel Aviv. So Syria ­ which Israel rightly believes to be behind Wednesday's Hizbollah attack ­ is not going to be bombed. It is Lebanon which must be punished.

The Israeli leadership intends to "break" the Hizbollah and destroy its "terrorist cancer". Really? Do the Israelis really believe they can "break" one of the toughest guerrilla armies in the world? And how?

There are real issues here. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1559 ­ the same resolution that got the Syrian army out of Lebanon ­ the Shia Muslim Hizbollah should have been disarmed. They were not because, if the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, had tried to do so, the Lebanese army would have had to fight them and the army would almost certainly have broken apart because most Lebanese soldiers are Shia Muslims. We could see the restarting of the civil war in Lebanon ­ a fact which Nasrallah is cynically aware of ­ but attempts by Siniora and his cabinet colleagues to find a new role for Hizbollah, which has a minister in the government (he is Minister of Labour) foundered. And the greatest danger now is that the Lebanese government will collapse and be replaced by a pro-Syrian government which could reinvite the Syrians back into the country.

So there's a real conundrum to be solved. But it's not going to succeed with the mass bombing of the country by Israel. Nor the obsession with terrorists, terrorists, terrorists.




Fisk on Lebanon

Robert Fisk: Beirut waits as Syrian masters send Hezbollah allies into battle
Published: 13 July 2006

It's about Syria. That was the frightening message delivered by Damascus yesterday when it allowed its Hizbollah allies to cross the UN Blue Line in southern Lebanon, kill three Israeli soldiers, capture two others and demand the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails.

Within hours, a country that had begun to believe in peace - without a single Syrian soldier left on its soil - found itself once more at war.

Israel held the powerless Lebanese government responsible - as if the sectarian and divided cabinet in Beirut can control Hizbollah. That is Syria's message. Fouad Siniora, Lebanon's affable Prime Minister, may have thought he was running the country but it is President Bashar Assad in Damascus who can still bring life or death to a land that lost 150,000 lives in 15 years of civil conflict.

And there is one certain bet that Syria will rely on; that despite all Israel's threats of inflicting "pain" on Lebanon, this war will run out of control until - as has so often happened in the past - Israel itself calls for a ceasefire and releases prisoners. Then the international big-hitters will arrive and make their way to the real Lebanese capital - Damascus, not Beirut - and appeal for help.

That is probably the plan. But will it work? Israel has threatened Lebanon's newly installed infrastructure and Hizbollah has threatened Israel with further conflict. And therein lies the problem; to get at Hizbollah, Israel must send its soldiers into Lebanon - and then it will lose more soldiers.

Indeed when a single Merkava tank crossed the border into Lebanon yesterday morning, it struck a Hizbollah mine, which killed three more Israelis.

Certainly Hizbollah's attack broke the United Nations rules in southern Lebanon - a "violent breach" of the Blue Line, it was called by Geir Pedersen, the senior UN official in the country - and was bound to unleash the air force, tanks and gunboats of Israel on to this frail, dangerous country. Many Lebanese in Beirut were outraged when gangs of Hizbollah supporters drove through the streets of the capital with party flags to "celebrate" the attack on the border.

Christian members of the Lebanese government were voicing increasing frustration at the Shia Muslim militia's actions - which only proved how powerless the Beirut administration is.

By nightfall, Israel's air raids had begun to spread across the country - the first civilians to die were killed when an aircraft bombed a small road bridge at Qasmiyeh - but would they go even further and include a target in Syria? This would be the gravest escalation so far and would have US as well as UN diplomats appealing for that familiar, tired quality - "restraint".

And prisoner swaps is probably all that will come of this. In January 2004, for example, Israel freed 436 Arab prisoners and released the bodies of 59 Lebanese for burial, in return for an Israeli spy and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers.

As long ago as 1985, three Israeli soldiers captured in 1982 were traded for 1,150 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners. So Hizbollah knows - and the Israelis know - how this cruel game is played. How many have to die before the swaps begin is a more important question.

What is also clear is that for the first time Israel is facing two Islamist enemies - in southern Lebanon and in Gaza - rather than nationalist guerrillas. The Palestinian Hamas movement's spokesmen in Lebanon yesterday denied that there was any co-ordination with Hizbollah. This may be literally true but Hizbollah timed its attack when Arab feelings are embittered by the international sanctions placed on the democratically elected Hamas government and then the war in Gaza. Hizbollah will ride the anger over Gaza in the hope of escaping condemnation for its capture and killing of Israelis yesterday.

And there is one more little, sinister question. In past violence of this kind, Syria's power was controlled by the Hafez Assad, one of the shrewdest Arabs in modern history. But there are those - including Lebanese politicians - who believe that Bashar, the son, lacks his late father's wisdom and understanding of power. This is a country, remember, whose own Minister of Interior allegedly committed suicide last year and whose soldiers had to leave Lebanon amid suspicion that Syria had set up the murder of Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister, last year. All this may now seem academic. But Damascus remains, as always, the key.

The News From Lebanon (in French and English)

Dans Les Pages de Hoda

Don't hesitate to scroll down...


Smooth Criminal


"I got convicted for file-sharing and all I got was this lousy T-shirt"

Stating the bloody obvious


Israel broke humanitarian law by inflicting "collective punishment" on Palestinians after an Israeli soldier was captured, Switzerland has said.
Who cares about humanitarian law though?



To all you chocaholics, wonkaholics, dahlaholics out there, this just in from the 'Dam...
Another good reason to visit the city of canals, bicycles, brown cafes, famous artists and...chocolatte!

Just like Dahl's fictional "Chocolate Factory" owned by Willy Wonka, the main part of the "sweets park" will be located underground, in a disused railway tunnel which was handed over by the city of Amsterdam in a ceremony Thursday.

Amsterdam is the world's biggest cocoa port, processing around 30 percent of the world's cocoa beans from countries like Ghana and Ecuador. It supplies the key ingredient, cocoa paste, to major chocolate manufacturers throughout Europe
Perhaps they might be persuaded to have a Fair Trade room, better still to use only Fair Trade cocoa.