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This nameless war


This evening as we gathered in Ras Beirut with some close friends for food and conversation, I asked if this war had a name yet. Someone suggested that all of Israel’s wars are known by dates, so this would be the 2006 war. To the Arabs, they are all known as tragedies. This could be the rape of Lebanon (though hardly the deflowering), the July massacre (this only works for the one-month war). If I knew the names of the two captured Israeli soldiers, I might suggest the war be named after them, or has it gone way beyond that? 

At a crossroads in downtown Beirut


Today I drove through downtown on my way to visit my parents. I was driving alone and was a bit nervous. First time in a car alone since this whole thing started … But I had to see my parents. I came across a red light and stopped. The streets were empty, and I caught myself wondering why I stopped and didn’t just go through. Streets were totally empty - no other cars, no traffic police. Then I remembered my latest policy that is helping to keep me sane; that even under attack, we should not lose our manners. That even under attack, there are still some regulations we should abide by. Somehow, by not crossing the red light, I was able to maintain some dignity. 

Gaza under darkness


“I have lost a total of $1,000 US dollars since the power supply has been cut, the number of my customers has decreased to minimum, I stay idle at my shop for long hours; what shall I do?” asked 31-year-old Alaa’ Salahat, a local vendor of frozen foods from the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Maghazi. He spoke of his experience while sitting in the darkness with only a kerosene lamp illuminating the worry lines in his face. “This is really a very terrible situation; we are civilians - what does Israel want? This is really a collective punishment against an entire people,” said Alaa’. 

Displaced receive aid, but concern remains for those stuck in south


Apart from a few mattresses, some clothes and a water pipe, the classroom on the third floor of the Karm al-Zeytun primary school is empty. Chairs and tables stand piled up outside, forming a makeshift home for Hussein Nuridin and his family. Nuridin fled south Beirut on Sunday, his family having left before him. He initially wanted to keep an eye on his house, he explained, but the Israeli bombardment of the area became so intense that he says he had no choice but to leave. “They bombed a Hizbullah agricultural cooperative and some 40 other buildings on my street alone,” he said. “They’re using vacuum bombs, one of which is enough to destroy an entire building.” 

Amid attacks, health workers warn of waning supplies


Local health workers say they face difficulties reaching the injured in southern Lebanon following furious Israeli artillery barrages and air strikes that came in response to the 12 July kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah. “We’re cooperating with NGOs and other humanitarian associations to help us cope with the situation,” Minister of Health Muhammad Jawad Khalifa told IRIN. “But we’re experiencing difficulties in accessing affected areas to help the injured.” Khalifa added that 175 deaths and 500 injuries had been reported since the bombing began on 12 July. Dr Abdel Rahim Hennawi, director of the Hammoud Medical Centre in Sidon, 45 km south of Beirut, expressed particular concern about the lack of dialysis treatment. 

UN Security Council working on 'lasting solution' to violence in Lebanon


As a team of senior United Nations official meets with the parties on the ground in an effort to end the explosion of violence in Israel and Lebanon, Security Council members are actively searching for a lasting solution to crisis, according to its July President, Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière of France. “What is important for the Council is to work on a contribution for a sustainable solution,” Ambassador de la Sablière told reporters following closed consultations of the 15-member body that included briefings by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jane Holl Lute. 

UN humanitarian agencies prepare for health impact of crisis in Lebanon


With access to medical care, water, sanitation and other heath necessities in Lebanon severely limited by Israeli attacks, United Nations humanitarian agencies have stepped up preparations for a coordinated, regional response to the crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today. “Access to health care for injured and patients with chronic conditions is a major concern,” according to WHO’s first situation report from the country since Israel’s reaction to a 12 July cross-border Hizbollah attack. In addition, the agency said that impaired power supplies have limited water and sanitation services, and that food, shelter and health services must be ensured for the displaced population. 

Questions and answers on hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah


The following questions and answers set out some of the legal rules governing the various actions taken by Israel and Hezbollah to date in this recent conflict. Human Rights Watch sets out these rules before it has been able to conduct extensive on-the-ground investigation. The purpose is to provide analytic guidance for those who are examining the fighting as well as for the parties to the conflict and those with the capacity to influence them. This Q & A addresses only the rules of international humanitarian law, known as jus in bello, which govern the way each party to the armed conflict must conduct itself in the course of the hostilities. 

Israelis are dying: it must be an escalation


Here we go again — another “serious escalation” has begun in the Middle East, or so BBC World was telling audiences throughout Sunday. So what prompted the BBC’s judgment that the crisis was escalating once more? You can be sure it had nothing to do with the more than 130 Lebanese dead after five days of savage aerial bombardment from at least 2,000 sorties by Israeli war planes that are making the country’s south a disaster zone and turning Beirut into a crumbling ghost town. Those dead, most civilians and many of them women and children, hardly get a mention, their lives apparently empty of meaning or significance in this confrontation. 

Israel's latest attack on the poor


Residents of our village are leaving for fear of running out of food; water is scarce and there are only four small grocery stores for a population of about 15,000 people. This is common throughout the South, as most depend on the cities for commerce (cities they are now cut off from). My grandmother and aunt have left the safety of our family’s bomb shelter to stay in a village on the coast. What appalling choices they have been given — seeking refuge in a building with no bomb shelter, in closer proximity to Israeli war ships, or remaining in a village where food is running out. The death toll in Lebanon is now 150 civilians, with the number of injured rising to 350.