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Evidence indicates deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon

Amnesty International today published findings that point to an Israeli policy of deliberate destruction of Lebanese civilian infrastructure, which included war crimes, during the recent conflict. The organization’s latest publication shows how Israel’s destruction of thousands of homes, and strikes on numerous bridges and roads as well as water and fuel storage plants, was an integral part of Israel’s military strategy in Lebanon, rather than “collateral damage” resulting from the lawful targeting of military objectives. The report reinforces the case for an urgent, comprehensive and independent UN inquiry into grave violations of international humanitarian law committed by both Hizbullah and Israel. 

UN official paints grim picture of Palestinian situation

Briefing the Security Council today on the situation of Palestinians in the Middle East, the top United Nations political officer painted a grim picture of developments over the past 12 months, warning that the vision of Israel and Palestine living peacefully side-by-side has slipped “further away,” and stressing the need for a renewed international effort in the region. In an open meeting of the Council, which also heard speeches from almost 30 countries, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, listed six main reasons why the situation had changed so much from a year ago. 

3,000 displaced remain as rebuilding starts

United Nations agencies and Lebanese NGOs say almost everyone displaced by the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel has either returned home or found alternative accommodation. About 15,000 houses were destroyed in the 34-day conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, and many more damaged, according to the Lebanese government. However, through extended family networks, second homes or accommodation paid for with compensation monies, most of the 252,184 Lebanese who lived in the now damaged or destroyed houses have found somewhere to stay. 

Silence breeds impunity - investigations are needed

First there were allegations of illegal tactics. Now it is the illegal use of certain weapons. As Jeff Handmaker writes, such allegations are hardly new. Israel has for years been accused of both in its systematic dispossession, oppression and killing of Palestinians. However, the continued silence on the part of the international community has sent a dangerous message to Israel that it need not feel restrained in either the methods or weapons it uses in its military operations, and so it has set the bar of violence ever higher. The new level of disregard for international law granted tacit permission to Israel’s war commanders to experiment with a vast and sophisticated weaponry. 

Photostory: From Al-Amiriyyah, Baghdad to Amiriyyah, south Beirut

“To the residents of the Amiriyyah building Please visit the Afaq Center, Sayyid Hadi bridge. Please bring along any paper that proves your rent or ownership of a unit in the building. Thank you for your cooperation.” Thus read a sign on the rubble of a leveled building in south Beirut. The building was hit by a bunker buster on 13 of July 2006, the second day of the war, when the Israeli Air Force hit the Nour Radio Station that used to operate from the Amiriyyah building. Amiriyyah is a name that takes us to the first Gulf War, specifically to 13 February 1991, when the United States Air Force committed a massacre in the air raid shelter of Al-Amiriyyah in North Baghdad. 

The Massacre at Qana

Two days ago, driving toward the village of Qana, we saw men at work, creating neatly aligned rows of rectangular cement structures that would soon be ready for burials. On foot, we entered Qana, thinking we should at least identify the site where a massacre had taken place when, on July 30th, an Israeli bomb hit a building that sheltered children as they slept. It took five hours for ambulances to reach them. Statistics differ, but the most recent Human Rights Watch report estimated that twenty-three were killed. 

A Proportionate Response

Upon arrival in Beirut in early August, 2006, Michael Birmingham met Abu Mustafa. Michael is an Irish citizen who has worked with Voices campaigns for several years. Abu Mustafa is a kindly Lebanese cab driver. Having fled his home in the Dahiya neighborhood which was being heavily bombed, Abu Mustafa was living in his car. Abu Mustafa joked that he sometimes went back to his home in the already evacuated area of the Dahiya, just to take a shower or sometimes a proper nap. 

This is every night in Balata

The neighbor’s baby is sick. How do I know? There are only two thin walls and about 15 feet of separation between them and us. These thin walls also create for a magnificent arena to echo the shots of M-16 fire which ring throughout the night. It’s impossible to sleep, at least for me — I’m not used to this. My friend says that he sleeps through it just fine most nights. Although, when the larger Israeli vehicles come with their big artillery I don’t think that sleeping is possible. 

After Lebanon, Israel is looking for more wars

Late last month, a fortnight into Israel’s war against Lebanon, the Hebrew media published a story that passed observers by. Scientists in Haifa, according to the report, have developed a “missile-trappingo” steel net that can shield buildings from rocket attacks. The Israeli government, it noted, would be able to use the net to protect vital infrastructure — oil refineries, hospitals, military installations, and public offices — while private citizens could buy a net to protect their own homes. 

Anti-war activists block UK Foreign Office in London

Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, and Afghanis continue to be killed as a direct result of UK foreign policy. We will not stand as passive spectators to such crimes. We must do more than state-sanctioned marches. These sentiments were the common thread that tied over 50 anti-war activists together as they stood arm in arm in a solid and strong blockade of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for two hours on Monday morning. The Foreign Office was targeted as a department that is entirely complicit in the ongoing wars, occupations and injustice abroad.