Saturday, August 12, 2006


In the category ‘news to remember’:

   On 29 June 2006 Israel escalated its ongoing campaign against the elected Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority by arresting twenty members of the Palestinian parliament and eight cabinet members. [Note 1] This was thirteen days before the Hezbollah cross-border raid and capture of two Israeli soldiers typically cited as the ‘catalyst’ of the Israeli attack into Lebanon.

   The UNIFIL six-month report of activities issued on 21 July 2006 identified several very limited exchanges, in both directions across the Blue Line, in the period 21 January to 11 July 2006. [Note 2] It also called attention to “Persistent and provocative Israeli air incursions, occasionally reaching deep into Lebanese airspace and generating sonic booms over populated areas” which “remained a matter of serious concern.” Summarizing, the Secretary-General’s report states [Note 2]

The situation in the UNIFIL area of operation remained tense and volatile, although it was generally quiet during most of the reporting period. This situation completely changed on 12 July, when the current hostilities broke out and the area was plunged into the most serious conflict in decades.”

   On 25 July 2006 Israel attacked a UN observer post in southern Lebanon, killing four unarmed United Nations observers. They were at the observation post at Khiam, a long-established and well-known post. In the hours leading up to the deaths, UN officials and the UN liaison officer in southern Lebanon had protested repeatedly to Israeli officials and the IDF that firing on and near the post endangered the UN personnel. [Note 3] [SEE previous post on this blog: UNIFIL DEATHS IN LEBANON]

   On 21 July 2006 The New York Times reported that the Bush administration was “rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week …” . [Note 4] Two aircraft carrying these 5000 pound GBU-28 ‘bunker-buster’ munitions were later reported to have refueled at Prestwick, Scotland, without having obtained prior consent from the British government, leading to an angry response from the British Foreign Secretary. [Note 5] Note that although the ostensible purpose in Israel’s requesting these bombs was for use against Hezbollah tunnels and underground facilities, they could also enhance an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, should such an attack be undertaken. [SEE previous post on this blog: ISRAEL PUSHES WHITE HOUSE TO CONFRONT IRAN]

   On 10 August 2006 Israel dropped leaflets on sections of southern Beirut which, according to Robert Fisk, said that “the Israeli Defence Forces intend to expand their operations in Beirut.” Fisk comments that [Note 6]

Yesterday’s air-dropped Israeli document ordered Shia Muslims in Beirut’s Hay al-Selloum, Bourj al-Barajneh and Shiyah districts to abandon their homes ‘immediately’. In other words, the Israeli army wishes to ‘cleanse’ every civilian out of the 12 square miles between Beirut airport and the old Christian civil war frontline at Galerie Semaan. This malicious documents ends with a sinister threat—which breaks all the relevant rules of the Geneva Conventions—that ‘each expansion of Hizbollah terrorist operations will lead to a harsh and powerful response and its painful response will not be confined to Hassan’s gang of criminals.’

“So what does ‘not be confined to’ mean? That it is civilians who will pay the price—this time in Beirut—as they have in the Israeli air force massacres of soutern Lebanon over the past three weeks?

“Well, stand by for more Hizbollah atrocities and more Israeli atrocities.”

   The New York Times reported on 11 August 2006 that Israel had sought from the United States anti-personnel cluster bomb munition, which the United States has otherwise resisted transferring to other militaries because of their effects on innocents. The Times report spelled out that [Note 7]

Israel has long told American officials that it wanted M-26 rockets for use against conventional armies in case Israel was invaded, one of the American officials said. But after being pressed in recent days on what they intended to use the weapons for, Israeli officials disclosed that they planned to use them against rocket sites in Lebanon. It was this prospect that raised the intense concerns over civilian casualties.

“During much of the 1980’s, the United States maintained a moratorium on selling cluster munitions to Israel, following disclosures that civilians in Lebanon had been killed with the weapons during the 1982 Israeli invasion. But the moratorium was lifted late in the Reagan administration, and since then, the United States has sold Israel some types of cluster munitions, the senior official said.”

   The discussion of a ‘ceasefire’ or ‘cessation of hostilities’ resolution in the UN Security Council began immediately after the 12 July beginning of the war and lasted a month, during which extensive damage and the displacement of a million Lebanese was visited on Lebanon. The United Nations would certainly have been able to take effective action to achieve a ceasefire in Lebanon had it not been for US and UK objections in the Security Council. Those objections carried the implicit threat of a US veto against any terms which did not meet Israeli requirements, because the United States did veto the first resolution on the Israeli war in Lebanon when it came before the Security Council on 13 July. That resolution accused Israel of “disproportionate use of force”. Of that original resolution The New York Times reported that [Note 8]

John R. Bolton, the American ambassador, exercised the veto after failing in an effort to deny the resolution the nine votes needed for adoption.

“The resolution drew 10 votes on the 15-member panel, with Britain, Denmark, Peru and Slovakia abstaining. The measure, drafted by Qatar, the Arab representative on the Council, demanded that Israel halt military operations, release Palestinian prisoners, restore fuel supplies and replace destroyed power plant equipment.

“In an effort to achieve balance, language was added condemning the abduction of an Israeli soldier and the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Mr. Bolton said the resolution still ‘placed demands on one side in the Middle East conflict but not on the other.’ ”


[Note 1] Greg Myre and Ian Fisher, “Israel Steps Up Confrontation in Gaza Strip”, The New York Times, 29 June 2006. “. . . on Thursday [29 June], Israeli forces broadened their efforts with a sweeping raid throughout the West Bank, detaining 87 Palestinians linked to militant groups, including 64 Hamas members, the military said. The Hamas members included eight cabinet ministers, one-third of the total, including Omar Abdel Razak, the finance minister. The Israelis also detained more than 20 Hamas members of the Palestinian Parliament in raids in Ramallah, Jenin, East Jerusalem and elsewhere.”

[Note 2] Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (For the period from 21 January 2006 to 18 July 2006) (S/2006/560), 21 July 2006. http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2006/unsc-lbn-21jul.pdf

[Note 3] Warren Hoge, “U.N. Says It Protested to Israel for 6 Hours During Attack That Killed 4 Observers in Lebanon”, The New York Times, 27 July 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/27/world/middleeast/27nations.html

[Note 4] David S. Cloud and Helene Cooper, “U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis,”, The New York Times, 22 July 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/world/middleeast/22military.html

[Note 5] Thomas Harding, “Beckett Attacks US Over Bomb Planes’ Stop-over”, Telegraph [London], 27 July 2006. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/27/wmid527.xml

[Note 6] Robert Fisk, “Hizbollah’s Iron Discipline Is Match for Military Machine,” The Independent [London], 11 August 2006. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article1218405.ece

[Note 7] David S. Cloud, Israel Asks U.S. to Ship Rockets With Wide Blast”, The New York Times, 11 August 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/11/world/middleeast/11military.html

[Note 8] “U.S. Vetoes Criticism of Israel”, The New York Times, 14 July 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/14/world/14policy.html

[Bruce’s Blog: 2006.08.12 Post: Bxx Short Link: P=33 Front Door Index: http://blog.learnworld.com Permalink: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-lebanon-ii/]

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