Revolution #58, August 27, 2006
Returning Home to Destruction in Lebanon
According to the New York Times (8/16/2006) it is estimated that hundreds of bodies still lie buried beneath the rubble of southern Lebanon and the southern portion of Beirut. In Tyre, the largest city in the area, so many bodies have accumulated at the central morgue that many had to be dumped into mass graves.
Robert Fisk reported from Lebanon in the British newspaper, The Independent (8/17/2006), “In Srifa, south of the Litani river, they found 26 bodies beneath ruins which I myself stood on just three days ago. At Ainata, there were eight more bodies of civilians. A corpse was discovered beneath a collapsed four-storey house north of Tyre and, near by, the remains of a 16-year old girl, along with three children and an adult. In Khiam in eastern Lebanon, besieged by the Israelis for more than a month, the elderly village ‘mukhtar’ was found dead in the ruins of his home.”
According to the Lebanese government the total number of Lebanese people killed has reached 1,300 and may climb higher. The vast majority of the Lebanese dead are civilians. It is estimated that one third of those killed are children.
The full extent of the damage to the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon is not yet known. Many towns and villages lack electricity, water and sewage. Roads and bridges have been destroyed making it difficult to transport supplies. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that tobacco and grapes, two of the main crops in southern Lebanon, have been lost for this growing season due to the conflict, and olive production may be similarly affected.
According to United Nations over 50% or more of the civilian homes have been destroyed in the villages of Tayyabah, Ghanduriyah, Zibqin, Jabal al Butm, Bayyadah, Markaba, and Qantarah. Many other villages have not yet been assessed. UNICEF reports that there is an urgent need for drinking water, food, medicine, and items such as mattresses for 50,000 people in South Beirut
An additional difficulty that those returning to southern Lebanon face are cluster bombs. These barbaric weapons were dropped by Israel into densely populated areas, many fail to explode and litter the ground, waiting to explode when picked up or moved. Associated Press reports that in the village of Tibin “the main street is covered with bomblets.”
Jawad Najam, a doctor at a private hospital in nearby Tyre, said his staff had treated 25 people for cluster bomb injuries in one 24 hour period. He described the bombs as looking "like toys."
Lebanon also faces a huge environmental disaster. Up to 30,000 tons of oil flooded into the sea after Israeli jets attacked storage tanks at the Jiyyeh power plant south of Beirut on the opening days of the war. Israel’s refusal to allow environmental workers access to the area for the next 30 days greatly increased the magnitude of the disaster. The UN reports that the damage from this spill may even be greater than that caused by the Exxon Valdez, which was up to this point the largest oil spill in history.
This high number of civilian deaths in this war is NOT an accident, and it is NOT because of Hezbollah supposedly using civilians as cover. The fact is that this was a deliberate policy of the U.S. and Israel. And such deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure constitute war crimes.
In his article, “Watching Lebanon, Washington’s Interest in Israel’s War”, Seymour Hersh, reports that according to a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel, several Israeli officials traveled to Washington earlier this summer “to get the green light for the bombing operation.” Hersh writes that according to a Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking, the plan outlined by the Israelis and approved by Bush and Cheney, “called for a major bombing campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation....Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon’s infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon’s large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official. The airport, highways, and bridges, among other things, have been hit in the bombing campaign. The Israeli Air Force had flown almost nine thousand missions as of last week.” (New Yorker, 8/21/2006)
According to sources quoted by Hersh the Israelis told the U.S. that this would be a “cheap war with many benefits.” When they talk about a cheap war they mean that their plan was to use air power to wreak massive destruction on the people of Lebanon with minimal loss of Israeli soldiers. The lives of Lebanese civilians don’t count in this equation.
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