Revolution #55, July 30, 2006


Terrorists on a Monstrous Scale

U.S. Gives the Green Light—Israel on the Rampage in Lebanon

“Carpenters are running out of wood for coffins. Bodies are stacked three or four high in a truck at the local hospital morgue. The stench is spreading in the rubble.
“The morbid reality of Israel’s bombing campaign of the south is reaching almost every corner of this city. Just a few miles from the Rest House Hotel, where the United Nations was evacuating civilians on Thursday, wild dogs gnawed at the charred remains of a family bombed as they were trying to escape the village of Hosh, officials said.
“Officials at the Tyre Government Hospital inside a local Palestinian refugee camp said they counted the bodies of 50 children among the 115 in the refrigerated truck in the morgue, though their count could not be independently confirmed.”

Hassan Fatah
reporting from Tyre in Southern Lebanon,
New York Times
, July 20

“It will take us time to destroy what is left.”

Brig. Gen. Alon Friedman,
a senior army commander on the northern front
speaking on Israeli Army radio

As this article is being written, over 350 Lebanese have been killed in the first ten days of Israel’s attacks on the country. Almost all of those killed are civilians, many of them children. On Friday, July 21, Israel called up thousands of reserves and began massing troops and tanks on the border with Lebanon. Israel ordered all civilians to leave their homes in a large area of southern Lebanon, stretching along the southern border and going about 20 miles inland, which is the home to over 300,000 Lebanese.

As the Israel delivers massive terror to the people of Lebanon, the U.S. has announced that it is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel. While Israel and the U.S. have not released the details of the arms being shipped to Israel, it likely include GBU-28—5000-pound laser-guided bombs that are used to destroy concrete bunkers and inflict massive damage.

This arms shipment is both a message to the world that the U.S. stands behind the Israeli terror, and it is literally a shipment of mass death. Israeli bombs (made in and financed by the USA) have already hit Lebanon’s two largest milk factories, a major food factory, an eagerly awaited aid convoy that was making its way toward Beirut, 55 key bridges, many roads and two hospitals. Homes, and whole villages have been destroyed. And even before the latest Israeli order to evacuate more than 500,000 people—about one in eight in the country—have been forced from their homes and towns by the Israeli attack.

Aljazeera news reported on July 21, “After more than a week of heavy bombardment, the south Beirut suburb Haret Hreik resembles a Hollywood-like scene of apocalypse… The few buildings which stood were blackened by the fires which raged within from bombs and missiles days earlier… Furnishings from apartments had been thrown by the blasts and hung from balconies and open windows. Cars and other vehicles, their colors either faded or difficult to discern from their shrouding of dust, were tossed on their sides, some bent and misshapen under layers of concrete, brick and metal.”

But all of this is not enough for Israel and the U.S. Military officers quoted in the New York Times (July 22) say that the rush shipment is both “highly unusual” and an indication that Israel still has a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.

The UN World Food Program warned that hundreds of thousands of people displaced in Lebanon were finding it increasingly difficult to find food. “Damage to roads and bridges has almost completely disrupted the food supply chain, hurting large numbers of the displaced,” said Amer Daoudi, the leader of a World Food Program assessment unit now in Beirut.

“It’s a very serious escalation,” Lebanon’s Social Affairs Minister Nayla Mouawad said of the bombing of the milk factories. “We were putting a lot of hope on the milk factories, to get milk for children and elderly people.”

Doctors and emergency services working in south Lebanon say it is extremely difficult to access the wounded as Israel has targeted Red Cross vehicles and civilian traffic. Maha Mrouweh, a financial administrator at the Jabal Amal Hospital in Tyre, told Aljazeera: “They are targeting the civilian cars. They are preventing the food from arriving in the south. They are preventing the Red Cross from arriving to the destroyed buildings. They are shooting the Red Cross.”

Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The Israelis have refused to give guarantees that vehicles carrying supplies and wounded will not be targeted. I have worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo and I have never seen a situation where humanitarian organizations have faced such access risks. We are living a humanitarian disaster… They are in a desperate situation. There is no milk, bread and medicine.”

Two brothers, Ali and Ahmad al-Ghanam, refugees in Tyre, told the New York Times how Israel had massacred 23 members of their family. When Israeli loudspeakers warned villagers to evacuate the village of Marwaheen, the al-Ghanam family collected what they could and piled into a pickup and drove toward Tyre, with Ali and Ahmad trailing behind.

As the pickup raced to Tyre, Ali told the New York Times, Israeli boats shelled their convoy, hitting the car and injuring the women and children. But within minutes an Israeli helicopter approached, firing a missile that blew the truck to pieces. The only survivor was the brothers’ four-year-old niece, who survived with severe burns to much of her body.

The dead cannot be buried in their village where Israeli bombing continues, and even burying them in Tyre is considered too dangerous because it would likely draw an Israeli attack. “The Israelis can’t understand that we are people, too. Should they wonder why so many of us support the resistance?” Ali told the Times.

Deliberate Targeting of Civilians: A War Crime

“How soon must we use the words ‘war crime’? How many children must be scattered in the rubble of Israeli air attacks before we reject the obscene phrase ‘collateral damage’ and start talking about prosecution for crimes against humanity?

“The child whose dead body lies like a rag doll beside the cars which were supposedly taking her and her family to safety is a symbol of the latest Lebanon war; she was hurled from the vehicle in which she and her family were traveling in southern Lebanon as they fled their village—on Israel’s own instructions. Because her parents were apparently killed in the same Israeli air attack, her name is still unknown. Not an unknown warrior, but an unknown child.”

 Robert Fisk in Beirut
July 20, 2006

The civilian casualties and the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure are not the result of miscalculations by the Israeli military, so-called “collateral damage.”

From the very beginning of its attack Israel has made clear that they are not just targeting Hezbollah military targets but the entire country of Lebanon. “Nothing is safe in [Lebanon], it’s as simple as that,” Dan Halutz, Israeli Army Chief of Staff said as the war began.

This flows from Israel and the U.S.’s overall strategic goals in the war which include, in addition to the destruction of Hezbollah and Hamas, sending a message to the regimes in the region that they will now be required to be actively involved in the suppression of Islamist or anti-imperialist forces or themselves be considered part of the “enemy” by the U.S. and Israel.

“We’re also mindful of the cost to innocent civilians in Lebanon and in Israel, and we have called on Israel to continue to exercise the greatest possible care to protect innocent lives,” Bush said in his radio address on July 22. What lies and hypocrisy! How can Bush claim that the U.S. is concerned about the lives of civilians when the U.S. is supplying the bombs that are killing them! And what does it mean for the U.S. to call on Israel “to continue to exercise the greatest possible care” in the midst of its widespread bombing of civilian targets as well as the civilian infrastructure of the Lebanon?

Collective punishment of the population and attacking facilities indispensable for the survival of civilians—which is exactly what Israel is doing in Gaza and Lebanon—are explicitly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. So is the use of “disproportionate force” that may harm civilians and has no military purpose.

In front of the eyes of the whole world, Israel and the U.S. are refusing to stop bombing civilians. Even the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said the Israeli attacks probably amount to war crimes.

U.S. Says “Attack” to Israeli Attack Dog

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle (July 21), revealed that Israel had drawn up a plan for attacking Lebanon and presented it to U.S. officials over a year ago. The Chronicle wrote: “More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail.”

This shows that claims by Israel that its attack is in self defense is a bald-faced lie. This attack was planned many months BEFORE any seizure of Israeli soldiers. And it shows that the U.S. had clear foreknowledge of the attack.

The Guardian newspaper in Britain quoted a senior European official saying, “It’s clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer.” The Guardian also reported that British officials privately acknowledged the U.S. had given Israel a green light to continue bombing Lebanon until it believes Hezbollah’s infrastructure has been destroyed.

In addition, the U.S. has done all that it can to put off calls for a cease-fire that the government of Lebanon has requested. The U.S. blocked a motion condemning Israel in the Security Council. It sabotaged calls for a cease-fire at the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg and has deliberately delayed sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region to give Israel more time to attack.

Secretary Rice is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday, July 23 to begin negotiations. However, the start of negotiations might actually lead to an intensification of things in the region. Rice made clear that she does not want a cease-fire in the region that does not accomplish Israeli/U.S. objective of destroying Hezbollah. And even before beginning talks, Rice declared, “Syria knows what it needs to do, and Hezbollah is the source of the problem.”

Israel has said that the negotiation process will not slow down their military actions. “We are beginning a diplomatic process alongside the military operation that will continue,” said Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister. “The diplomatic process is not meant to shorten the window of time of the army’s operation, but rather is meant to be an extension of it,” she added.

Israel’s Role As U.S. Attack Dog

Since its creation in 1948—by the forced dispossession of the Palestinian people—Israel has been propped up, financed, armed and protected by the U.S. as an outpost for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. Israel is like the U.S. Army’s Fort Apache—a forward post deep in “Indian Country” during the late 1800s—fed by a steady train of supplies and weapons, manned by a steady stream of recruits, and backed up by the full power of the distant U.S. government.

The U.S government has long recognized the strategic importance of the Middle East, both for its large oil reserves and its strategic location at the intersection of Africa, Europe and Asia. Over the years the U.S. has worked, using the most sinister and cynical means, to prop up governments in the Middle East favorable to its interests. But the reactionary Arab governments are unstable—they serve the interests of corrupt pro-imperialist cliques and are threatened by the justified discontent of millions of oppressed and impoverished people. In that situation, the U.S. has found it very useful to have a heavily armed colonial settler-state functioning in the middle of the Arab world.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. rulers sensed a historic opportunity to deepen its control over the region and have embarked to remake the region, with the role of its attack dog, Israel, central to the overall strategy. While every U.S. administration has backed up Israel, the Bush administration has taken the leash off Israel in a much greater way than previous administrations. And we can see in Lebanon the horrors that this means for the people.

Ruling Class Voices Call for Wider War

Prominent ruling class mouthpieces, including many that are closely allied with Bush, have begun calling openly for wider regional war. These forces argue that U.S. policy in the region has become “too weak.”

Michael Rubin, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute and protégé of Cheney advisor Richard Perle, characterized recent State Department policy as “all talk and no strategy” that had emboldened enemies, especially Iran, to challenge Washington and its allies.

In an article in the National Review, bluntly titled “Eradication First,” Rubin argues that diplomacy in the current crisis will only be successful “if it commences both after the eradication of Hezbollah and Hamas, and after their paymasters pay a terrible cost for their support. If…peace is the aim, it is imperative to punish the Syrian and Iranian leadership,” he wrote.

Influential neo-conservative William Kristol wrote, “They are now testing us more boldly than one would have thought possible a few years ago. Weakness is provocative. We have been too weak, and have allowed ourselves to be perceived as weak.” Kristol went on to call for a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

While the neo-conservative forces around Bush have taken the lead in arguing for wider war, there are literally no voices in the U.S, ruling elite who are raising even a criticism of Israel’s actions. Furthermore there is a broad consensus, among both Democrats and Republicans, that this is a regional crisis and that the U.S. needs to take on both Iran and Syria.

For example, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously on July 18 to approve a resolution that not only endorsed Israel’s military actions in Gaza and Lebanon without calling on it to exercise any restraint, but also urged U.S. President George W. Bush to impose across-the-board diplomatic and economic sanctions on Tehran and Damascus. The House passed the resolution by a vote of 410 to 8 on Thursday, July 20.

This situation is developing rapidly, and it’s not yet clear exactly how it will unfold. Many different forces with different interests are in the field and the U.S. and Israel, even while they commit war crimes and prepare for even greater atrocities, do not have everything under their control. It is extremely important in this situation that the people of the whole world oppose the Israeli-U.S. aggression.

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