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Israeli war crimes in Lebanon

The wanton destruction by Israel of Lebanon’s infrastructure and the creation of 500,000 refugees, is a brutal war crime visited on a people unable to defend themselves against such an overwhelming onslaught. Not even the ancient Roman remains at Baalbek have been spared by massive Israeli bombardment.

Using the kidnap of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah as a pretext, Israeli forces have deliberately set out to destroy Lebanon as a functioning state. In doing so, they have implemented a strategy drawn up by the American and British governments, who have resisted international calls for a ceasefire. The immediate next targets are Syria and Iran.

This horrific strategy has one simple aim: to undermine any power, movement or state in the Middle East whose interests differ from those of Washington and London. At the heart of their ambitions is open access to dwindling oil resources and the creation of market economies in the area.

In practice, the so-called “war on terror” is thus a war against defenceless populations. It has nothing to do with winning Muslims away from support for radical Islamic organisations. In fact – and Bush and Blair surely know this -  the war on the Lebanon will only boost recruits to militant groups, just as the disastrous invasion of Iraq has done.

If there is hesitation about a full-scale invasion, Israelis remember that Hezbollah actually arose in response to their 1982 invasion. Hezbollah’s popular resistance in turn drove out the Israelis, who suffered huge losses. Cowardly attacks from the air cannot disguise the fantasies Israeli generals still have about “destroying Hezbollah”.

Hypocrisy knows no bounds in the White House and Downing Street. In the last few months, they have said nothing while the Israelis have seized Palestinian MPs and Hamas ministers and destroyed government offices and power stations in Gaza. Thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian citizens languish in Israeli jails, kidnapped illegally by Israeli forces. 

Bush and Blair’s claim that they are bringing democracy to the region is equally spurious. Hamas was fairly elected as the Palestinian government, while Hezbollah won seats in the Lebanese government. Elections are fine for Washington – so long as you get the right result!

All these actions demonstrate to every thinking person that Israel, as America’s proxy in the region, has no intention of acting on the single most important issue – the rights of the Palestinian people. A simple act by Israel – withdrawing from territories occupied since 1967 – would pave the way to peace.

The fact is that the Israeli state is dominated by right-wing nationalists who prefer to stir up enmities rather than acknowledge the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. In fact, Hamas was attacked just as it was on the point of changing its policy and recognising Israel, thereby removing a chief obstacle to negotiations.

By their actions, the militarised Israeli state does a great disservice to the Jews whose families originally fled to Palestine to escape the horrors of anti-Semitism and Nazism in Europe. They have been made pawns in a cynical game of imperial domination, despite the brave efforts of a substantial minority of Israelis who oppose the actions of their government and armed forces

The Bush and Blair governments hold ultimate responsibility for the catastrophe that is unfolding in the Middle East. Their defeat and removal is a precondition for any political and social reconciliation between Jews and Arabs and the prevention of full-scale war in the region.   

25 July 2006

   
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