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Lebanon's irreplaceable cultural loss


The loss inflicted by the Israeli war on Lebanon is measured in the 1,400 people killed, the thousands maimed (with more continuing to be killed and maimed by the hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs left behind), the hundreds of thousands displaced or left homeless, and the wholesale destruction of infrastructure essential to life. Colonial wars of aggression like the one waged by the US in Iraq or the slow genocide carried out by the Jewish state against the Palestinian people have a more profoundly destructive effect than the most brutal barbarian invasions of old because they aim deeper, into the very soul of the nations under attack. 

Fishermen survive on handouts


Wissam Arab pointed sadly at shredded nets and broken pieces of wood in the dirty water in Beirut’s Ouzai Harbour. It is all that remains of his work over the past 11 years. Arab’s fishing boat was destroyed in the July-August conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. It lies 15 metres deep in the Mediterranean Sea, now polluted after an Israeli air strike on a nearby power plant created a massive oil spill. His livelihood is in tatters, he said. “The sea was my friend. Now, even divers are scared of going under the water to check on my boat. It was drowned by one of the rockets that hit the harbour,” Arab told IRIN

Photo of the Day: Only in Ramallah


Photo of the Day is a BNN feature which offers a photograph on a day, and calls it “Photo of the Day”. This is not to imply that this is a regular feature, nor that this photo is truly the mother of all photos for the day in question. In this particular example, there is more than one photo, so a correct titling of the feature should really be “Photos of the Day”. However, this would become extremely confusing for branding reasons, kind of like the subject of these photos. Usual disclaimers apply. 

Photostory: Ramadan in Ramallah


With the coming of Eid al Fiter and in spite of the depressed economy and Israel’s chokehold on Palestinian revenues and customs, traders and vendors in Ramallah are hoping to make some money. Some of them are children, since government schools have yet to open in the West Bank because of the strike by government employees. The vendors’ merchandise is all cheap, but it is colorful and maybe affordable. Popular items appear to be plastic weapons — plastic guns and swords. To Palestinian children, the scene in downtown Ramallah is as exciting as any Christmas season is in downtown New York to American children. 

Hardy souls return to clean up the mess in southern Lebanon


Haddatha is a mess. Located close to Lebanon’s border with Israel, the village was heavily damaged during the five-week conflict that ravaged the eastern Mediterranean country this summer. The village centre is unrecognisable, with a mosque, shops and about 100 houses reduced to rubble. Some families have returned to rebuild their homes, but with winter approaching and their rural livelihoods destroyed others of Haddatha’s displaced inhabitants whose homes were ruined are staying away. One of the returnees, Mustafa Nasser sits in what is left of his family’s living room. 

New school year gets underway with few hitches


Thousands of children returned to school across Lebanon on Monday after a summer of war, destruction and displacement. “I am happy to be back in school,” said 11-year-old Fatima Aasi, who goes to school in her home town of Ansariyeh, 30km south of Beirut. “During the war we were very scared, but now I feel like things will be normal again.” After the United Nations-brokered ceasefire that ended the 34-day conflict between Israel and Hezbollah on 14 August, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with UNICEF, initiated a national back-to-school campaign with a commitment to ensuring that children in public schools could begin classes on October 16 - three weeks later than the usual start date. 

Lebanon's new disabled


The fighting may be over, for now, between Hezbollah and the Israeli army but the scars of the devastation caused in Lebanon may never heal. Beyond the destroyed buildings, collapsed bridges and the estimated million pieces of unexploded ordnance littering the countryside, are the personal stories of injury, disfigurement and disability. ‘There are children who have been left disabled by the war and are now in wheelchairs,’ said Nizar Amine of Christian Aid partner Mouvement Social, which is repairing three schools damaged by bombing in the southern Lebanese village of Srifa. 

Report on failures of October 2000 investigations submitted to Israeli Atty. Gen.


Today, Adalah submitted a comprehensive report entitled “The Accused” to the Attorney General of Israel, Menachem Mazuz. The report addresses the shortcomings and failures of the law enforcement authorities - first and foremost the Ministry of Justice’s Police Investigation Unit (“Mahash”) - in investigating the killings of 13 Palestinian citizens of Israel and the injury to of hundreds of others during the October 2000 protest demonstrations. The 133-page report primarily exposes Mahash’s negligent work and its failure to fulfill its duty to investigate the criminal offenses committed by police officers and commanders in October 2000. 

Israeli forces kill four in Gaza; major expansion of operations is feared


In the midst of increasing assertions by Israeli government officials over the smuggling of arms in the Gaza Strip and impending military operations inside it, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) escalated its attacks on Gaza and killed four Palestinians during new incursions last night and today. According to field reports, at approximately 6pm yesterday, 17 October 2006, about 15 IOF tanks and armored vehicles entered the Ezbet Abedrabu neighborhood in the east of Jabalia, some 2km from the borderline. They leveled land and streets in the area under heavy firing. 

West Bank patients grow increasingly desperate for medical treatment


According to international aid organisations, a five week health workers’ strike in the West Bank has prompted some Palestinians to threaten medical staff into treating them. “The strike has had a huge impact on health services. People are knocking on the doors of doctors who are at home and offering to pay for treatment,” said David, Shearer, head of the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Jerusalem. “People are also threatening medical staff to try to get themselves treated - and it’s going to get worse. We don’t have any numbers on how many people may actually have died, or how many babies may have died in childbirth, as they are not being registered.”