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Foreign meddling and domestic inaction push Lebanon to the brink of crisis

Lebanon is once again on the brink of a crisis caused by foreign meddling and domestic inaction. The White House is accusing Hizbullah, Iran and Syria of seeking the illegitimate overthrow of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government, parroting a theme long championed by a very recent visitor to Washington, Chouf MP Walid Jumblatt. The simplistic charge dovetails with much of the current US approach to the Middle East, but it also lends credence to the theory that the Bush administration’s Lebanon policy is so flimsy as to be alterable by the last person who gained an audience with the president or one of his top advisers. 

UNIFIL: What are they here for?

Resolution 1701 ignores, apparently deliberately, the investigations held not only by the United Nations itself, but also independent investigations conducted by international organizations like Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, and Amnesty International — only to name a few — which find Israel responsible for serious violations on many levels, some irreversible. Resolution 1701 equates between an act of invasion and aggravated damage to the Lebanese infrastructure, environment, and population both Lebanese and Palestinian, with the legitimate response and (in comparison to Israel’s military power) the microscopic military power of Hezbollah. 

Pummeling the victim

The terrible imbalance of power between the Israelis and Palestinians makes it impossible for Israel, regardless of which government is in power, to deal with the Palestinians in any way except through a lens of assumed moral, cultural, and racial superiority, as though military prowess equates with civilization and home-made rockets equate with savagery and a sub-human status. The savagery, though, belongs to Israel and to anyone who has the power to stop a bully in his bloody pummeling of a much weaker opponent but instead stands aside, watching under the cover of the manufactured excuse that the bully is defending himself against his hapless victim. 

One woman killed, 16 injured in Israeli siege on Gaza mosque

In the ongoing Israeli ‘Operation Autumn Clouds’, Israeli forces opened fire on women who were trying to assist the escape of a group of Palestinian fighters besieged in An-Nasser mosque in Beit Hanoun. One Palestinian woman was killed and another is currently in a state of clinical death. At least another 16 women were injured, of whom three are in a critical condition. The women were staging a demonstration demanding an end to the siege of the An-Nasser mosque, in which dozens of Palestinian men have been holed up since Thursday evening. 

Palestinian man used as human shield during Israeli siege of Bethlehem

Israeli troops invaded the Saf area of the West Bank city of Bethlehem early on Friday morning. Over a dozen military jeeps surrounded a building near the girls’ school in the area. Armed Palestinians exchanged fire with the Israeli soldiers on and off throughout the morning, resulting in at least six serious Palestinian injuries. A teenage boy was shot dead by the Israeli forces. One of the injured, an 80-year-old woman, is currently undergoing surgery. Around mid-day, after partly bulldozing the house of Saher Hassan, an active member of Islamic Jihad whom the Israeli army appear to be targeting, the Israeli soldiers began forcing their way in using a ‘human shield’. 

War still keenly felt in Lebanon

Current events are like hot air balloons, says Arundhati Roy; they rise up into view and disappear out of sight again. This seems to be the situation now in Lebanon. Many friends and colleagues abroad are emailing to ask what’s going on, since Lebanon is no longer in the news. Our hot air balloons have already disappeared. We are not in the news anymore, but this does not mean that war is no longer raging in Lebanon. The only difference between now and the summer, when we were in the news, is that quick death caused by immediate shelling has been replaced by slow, sporadic death caused by cluster bombs and soil and air contamination, and the brute power of Israel’s armed forces has been replaced by the soft power of UN political control. 

Palestinian NGOs accuse EU of double standards after Solana meets Lieberman

Over 300 Palestinian organisations, representing civil society organisations, charities, human rights groups, and popular committees, have sent a joint letter to the Finnish representative to the Palestinian Authority, condemning the fact that the European Union policy chief, Javier Solana, met with the extreme right-wing Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman during his visit to the region. The letter reminds the Europeans of Lieberman’s “fascist tendencies”, such as his belief that all Palestinian citizens of Israel should be transferred outside the boundaries of Israel. 

Jews Give Bush, Republicans Failing Grades

Despite Republican efforts led by President George W. Bush to align the party squarely behind the policies of successive right-wing governments in Israel, U.S. Jews are expected to vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in next week’s elections. According to a survey by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), U.S. Jews have continued to lose confidence in the Bush administration, particularly its conduct of the “war on terrorism” and the Iraq war, although a modest majority said they approved of the way Washington handled last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

98 Percent of Cluster Bombs Victims are Civilians

Ninety-eight percent of registered victims of cluster bombs are civilians, Handicap International, a UK-based NGO said in a report published Thursday. Handicap International estimates that there are more than 100,000 victims of cluster bombs worldwide. More than 360 million sub-munitions of this kind have been dropped. Arsenals around the world contain an estimated stock of 4 billion pieces, Handicap says. This year they were used in Iraq, Lebanon and Israel. During the recent conflict between Israel and Lebanon, Israel dropped about 4 million cluster sub-munitions, according to Handicap. Unexploded bombs now lie all over the place. 

Armed men attack radio office in Gaza as the security chaos increases

As the security chaos escalated in Gaza yesterday, the number of its victims increased. A group of armed men attacked the Ash-Shaab (People’s Voice) radio station office in Gaza city yesterday, where they shot at the staff members with live ammunition and smashed equipment. According to the affidavit given to Al Mezan by one of the Ash-Shaab Radio staff members, at approximately 7pm Wednesday, 1 November 2006, the station received a telephone threat from a person who claimed to have worked for a security apparatus in Gaza.