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How I found myself standing with the Islamic fascists

It occurred to me as I watched the story unfolding on my TV, of a suspected plot by a group of at least 20 British Muslims to blow up planes between the UK and America, that the course of my life and that of the alleged “terrorists” may have run in parallel in more ways than one. Like a number of them, I am originally from High Wycombe, one of the non-descript commuter towns that ring London. As the TV showed aerial shots wheeling above the tiled roof of a semi-detached house there, I briefly thought I was looking at my mother’s home. But, doubtless, my and their lives have diverged in numerous ways. So, even though we may have been neighbours of a sort in High Wycombe, my life and theirs probably had few points of contact. 

Watching in Horror - and Acting to Help

News headlines took me back to the past — a dark, gloomy and depressing past that I have lived and survived: a 20-year Lebanese civil war, the 1982 full-scale Israeli invasion of Lebanon…1996…2000…and on and on….However, this time it is different because I am watching it on television away from my family and friends. This time I am not staying in a shelter hearing the bombs outside and not knowing when a bomb will strike our house. This time I am outside the country, watching live coverage on the news and seeing photographs of people, injured or dead, displaced or in shelters. They could be someone I know well…innocent souls caught in the middle of madness…. 

Mrabba Electroni[c]que: Global Lebanon Web Jam

Live audio/video streaming transmission from Waag Society in Amsterdam, in direct connection with Beirut and surrounding localities. The event was initiated by Streamtime, a web support campaign for Iraqi bloggers. After one month of violence and carnage, this Global Web Jam brings together live interviews and conversations, video clips, cartoons and blog blurbs, soundscapes, DJs and VJs, a lively mix of information, art, protest, party and reflection. We feature the voices, images stories, reports and initiatives from Lebanon and beyond, with participation of activists, artists, bloggers, journalists, musicians and many others. 

Rainbow Warrior completes joint mission with MSF to transport humanitarian supplies to Lebanon

Over 75 tons of essential medical supplies have been safely transported to Lebanon via sea, following a joint operation between Greenpeace and Medecins Sans Frontieres, in which three voyages were made by the Rainbow Warrior between Larnaca in Cyprus and Beirut. The humanitarian cargos consisted of essential relief equipment, including medical equipment, dialysis material, drugs, hygiene kits and fuel, which was transported on the three shuttle voyages, starting on 2 August and ending today at 0900 when the Rainbow Warrior arrived back in Larnaca. 

Lebanon crisis: Airlift under way

Yesterday, UNHCR started an airlift from Jordan and Denmark to help rush tonnes of urgently needed relief supplies to Lebanon. The severely damaged roads along the so-called northern corridor into Lebanon from Syria - where we have a major supply base - via the Al Aarida border crossing, have slowed up our convoys and made it increasingly difficult to move supplies in bulk. The first flight - a Royal Jordanian Air force C-130 from Amman - arrived in Beirut on Thursday morning loaded with 14.76 tonnes of supplies including 9,000 blankets from UNHCR’s regional stockpile in Jordan, and boxes of drugs for the World Health Organisation. 

"Israel and Hezbollah must stop using the excuse of the other's misconduct for their own abuses"

In its written statement submitted to the second special session of the Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch states that the continuing toll of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is enormous and warrants the attention of this special session of the Human Rights Council: hundreds of civilians, many of them children, have been killed, essential infrastructure has been destroyed, and millions of lives have been disrupted. Serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) have been committed by both Israel and Hezbollah. 

As fighting intensifies in Lebanon, UN mission sustains damage but no casualties

Exchanges of fire continued in the past 24 hours with heightened intensity throughout the UNIFIL area of operation. Hezbollah fired rockets in significantly larger numbers from various locations. The IDF intensified shelling and aerial bombardment across the south. The IDF has maintained their presence and continues to operate inside Lebanese territory in different areas. It substantially reinforced the number of troops in the general areas of Sarda and Deir Mimess in the eastern sector. From this location, they advanced during last night and this morning to the north. Intensive shelling, bombardment, rocket firing, and ground exchanges were reported. 

Annan pushes for Security Council resolution on Israel-Lebanon violence

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is working “very intensely” with Security Council members and key leaders to push for a resolution concerning the situation along the Blue Line separating Israel from Lebanon. A spokesman for Annan issued a statement in New York saying the diplomacy is taking place “both here and in capitals.” The statement also reiterated Annan’s long-standing call for a cessation of hostilities. “The fighting must stop to save civilians on both sides from the nightmare they have endured for the past four weeks.” The spokesman voiced Annan’s conviction that the Security Council should be able to adopt a resolution by the end of the week. 

One-month anniversary

It has been one month now. For one month, Lebanon has had bombs drop on her. In one month, I have aged 50 years. For one month, I have cried everyday. As the days unfold, the news is only getting worse. I find myself sinking … it has become so hard to write. How many times can I keep repeating, help, Israel is targeting civilians; Israel is blowing up the whole country; infrastructure has been hit; all the highways have been hit; roads and bridges, hit; food and wheat storages, gas and fuel supplies, communication towers, ports all hit; hospitals shutting down because they have run out of fuel … the whole country is slowly being choked to death? 

Searching for the truth under the rubble

The first time I met someone who was not from New Orleans who understood why I wanted to return after the city was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina was when I met Rim from Beirut. I was at a writer’s residency, offered to me in the aftermath of last year’s disaster, when I was discussing with one of the people who ran it my difficulty, both logistically and psychologically, in getting to the place. The logistical part was clear, but I did not understand why it was that I had a very difficult time leaving the city to come to that clean, safe place. “It makes no sense,” I remember saying. A woman nearby overheard us and said “It does to me.”