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Lebanese struggle to repair far wider damage than destroyed houses


From a distance, the lack of obvious destruction lends a deceptive look of normality to towns like Marjayoun. Look closer and you discover that interiors of houses have been wrecked, services like electricity are non-existent, rotting rubbish lies uncollected and the fields cannot be entered because of unexploded munitions. “What we had here was a tsunami. That is the only way to explain it,” said the mayor of Marjayoun, Fouad Hamra. A convoy of 3,000 fleeing inhabitants came under air attack as they tried to leave on August 11. “The problem is that since there are few destroyed houses, people think that we have not been that much affected by the war.” 

Muhsin's voice is heard


Muhsin Melhem will never forget the tragedy of 12 August. Just two days before a United Nations-brokered ceasefire brought hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah to an end, Israeli jets fired on Al-Haikha Bridge in Akkar, 40 km north-east of Beirut. Melhem’s son Ali, 18, was instantly killed in the air strike. His other two sons, Mohammad, 13, and Ghassan, 27, were severely wounded. “I don’t know how can we survive and overcome this tragedy,” said Melhem when IRIN first spoke to him on 17 August. Melhem is a poor farmer from the village of Akkar, around 40 km north-east of the capital. He depended on his working sons to support the family. 

"It's much worse": Anti-Apartheid Activist Farid Esack Speaks on Palestine and South Africa


How is the current situation in Palestine/Israel similar to that of apartheid-era South Africa? How is it different? Is Zionism a form of racism? What can we learn from the South African experience to strengthen and empower the movement for justice and peace in Palestine/Israel? Leading South African Muslim theologian and anti-apartheid activist Farid Esack addressed these questions in a timely, engaging and moving lecture at Oak Park Public Library in Illinois on September 6, 2006, organized by the Committee for Justice and Peace in Israel and Palestine. Listen to the audio podcast of this important lecture brought to you by EI

Annan encourages Palestinian efforts to form National Unity Government


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for an end to killings in Gaza and deplored conditions facing Palestinians there while calling on both sides of the Middle East conflict to take steps that will foster lasting peace. In a message to the UN International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People, being held in Geneva, Mr. Annan said since the end of June, more than 200 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed. “This must stop immediately.” He underscored the toll of Israeli incursions, which have exacerbated already high levels of poverty and unemployment, destroying infrastructure and causing serious shortages. 

U.N. refugee official says Gaza's residents deserve protection


The more than 800,000 vulnerable Palestinians of Gaza were trapped in a nightmare, owing to a combination of financial sanctions against Hamas, a ten-week siege of Gaza, daily targeted killings of suspected militants and Israeli incursions into densely populated neighbourhoods, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Karen AbuZayd, said today at a headquarters press conference. Strangulation of commerce and trade had ruined the economy, brought the institutions of Government to a near meltdown, and badly shaken the society, she said. 

Radio Tadamon! Echoes of War from Beirut to Montreal


This edition of Radio Tadamon! features sounds from Beirut recorded during the height of the Israeli assault on Lebanon & voices from the streets of Montreal recorded during multiple solidarity demonstrations with the Lebanese people. Featuring multiple voices & interviews from Beirut which provide a picture of the first days of the Israeli 2006 attack, the present-day impacts of the war on the people of Lebanon, voices of international solidarity from the streets of Montreal & interviews providing important historical context / political background to the 2006 Israeli assault on Lebanon. 

Call for an immediate end to Israel's discriminatory visa-freeze policy


More than 70 journalists, activists, and members of the diplomatic corps met on September 6 at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem for a press conference regarding the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-Entry to the occupied Palestinian territory. The event was organized in conjunction with the Israeli-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI). The purpose of the press conference was to engage Israeli officials on the issue in the presence of foreign representatives. No Israeli government representatives, however, were present. A US consulate spokesperson emphasized that the consulate was aware of the visa freeze policy and that the issue was being raised at the highest levels. 

Court overturns Haifa University's discriminatory policy on student dorms


After nearly a year of deliberations, Haifa District Court issued a ruling cancelling regulations at Haifa University that gave preferential treatment to Jewish students needing accommodation over Arab students. The university, roughly a fifth of whose students are Arabs, tried to conceal the discrimination by arguing that in allocating housing it was preferring students who had completed their army service. However, the court accepted the argument of the Adalah legal centre that because very few Arab citizens do military service this regulation was being used in effect to discriminate against Arab students. 

How Israel failed its Arab citizens before, during and after the Lebanon war


During the five weeks of fighting between Israel and Hizbullah this summer, the north of Israel took a battering from some 4,000 rockets. According to the Foreign Ministry, the civilian fatalities from the rockets numbered 43, including 18 Arab citizens. Of course, rockets don’t discriminate between Jew and Arab, as public officials were quick to point out. But unfortunately, the Israeli government does. There were many reasons why a high number of Arabs died in the war, a fact that has surprised many observers, including apparently the Israeli government, as it was widely assumed that Hizbullah would not endanger the lives of fellow Arabs. 

Soldiers severely abuse young Palestinian and take a picture of themselves on his cell phone


On 26 August 2006, soldiers detained Tha’ir Muhsen, 18, from a-Neqora, a village near Nablus , while he was on his way home after registering at a-Najah University , in Nablus. The soldiers sat him down next to another Palestinian who had been detained. The other fellow told Muhsen that the soldiers had beaten him. When one of the soldiers threw a stick to another soldier present, the other detainee fled. The soldiers chased him but returned empty- handed. They then began to abuse Muhsen.