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Note from Lebanon

by ZNet Thursday, Jul. 20, 2006 at 6:31 AM

by Rania Masri

Dear friends,

Thank you all for your letters of concern. Yes, I am in Lebanon, and, yes, I am safe, as safe as one can be when one's country is under attack.

I appeal to you all: we need your voices of outrage to be heard.

Since Wednesday, we have been under vicious, unjustified attack, and the attacks have been intensifying.

Vicious. Perhaps you have not heard the news because the western news has not been reporting it. Perhaps you have seen the pictures because the western news is not printing the pictures (the media has access to the pictures, but is choosing not to print them).

See: www.angryarab.blogspot.com for some pictures. As for the attacks, the level of infrastructural damage exceeds that of the 1982 Israeli invasion:

Every airport has been attacked and rendered unfit for travel. The main airport (our only commerical airport) has been attacked several times over several days. The smaller military airports, none of which were in use for years, have also been attacked and rendered useless.

Every port from the south to the north has been attacked by the Israelis. For the first time, the port of Jounieh was bombed. (Which opens up the rather narrow question: how can the Americans, French, British, and Italians -- all of whom have called for the evacuation of their citizens -- evacuate their citizens?)

Several major gas stations and electrical stations have been destroyed. There is a rumor that every major gas station in the country is under threat.

The major bridges in the country have been destroyed. 64 to be exact. We are hesitant to cross over any bridge for the fear that it could be the next target.

The main arteries of the country have been destroyed -- from the south to the north. What does this mean? This means that travel between main cities *throughout Lebanon* is physically impossible. One cannot leave the country to Syria -- nor, and more importantly, can one move safely from one area to another, from one city to another, and, in the South, from one part of the village to another part of the village. There is only one main route that is still open (the highway from nothern Beirut to Tripoli), and since last night, Israel has been threatening to bomb the tunnel in Chekka, thus making it impossible to go - on the main road - from Jbeil/Byblos to the northern areas, and vice versa. (some basic geography of Lebanon, from the central Lebanon to the north, the main cities are: Beirut, Jounieh, Jbeil/Byblos, Batroun, Chekka, Tripoli. This besieging of villages is especially vicious in the South. The Israeli army has been calling upon villages in the South to evacuate yet they have destroyed the roads on which they can evacuate - so the message is clear: leave your homes and we will kill you, stay in your homes and we will kill you. They have done both.

What does all this mean?

Israel is attempting to scare the Lebanese into submission by forcing us to remain in the country and not "escape." This is terorism - in its purest form.

Israel is attempting to besiege every major community in the country, to isolate us so that eventually we will "surrender" when there is a lack of food and medicine and other basic necessities. Already, numerous villages and the major city of Sour/Tyre have spoken about the lack of basic goods.

Vicious. Yes. The Israeli acts of aggression have not been limited to infrastructure but have *deliberately* targeted civilians. Deliberately. Homes in the South have been deliberately targeted and attacked. How can we prove intent? Several ways. First: In open fields, the bombs have hit the homes and not the fields surrounding the homes. We have seen this kind of precision attacks during the 1996 Qana massacre, when the Israeli Offensive Forces bombed the areas in the UN compound in which the civilians were hiding and did not bomb the very close areas in which the UN staff were housed nor the trees that surrounded the compounds. Entire families, entire families, have been killed thus far in the South. In separate attacks, four families -- father, mother, and their children -- have been massacred. Their bodies torn apart. Their faces burned.

This is the Independent (UK)'s reporting on the first of the attacks: Israeli jets "came first to the little village of Dweir near Nabatiya in southern Lebanon where an Israeli plane dropped a bomb on to the home of a Shia Muslim cleric. He was killed. So was his wife. So were eight of his children. One was decapitated. All they could find of a baby was its head and torso which a young villager brandished in fury in front of the cameras. Then the planes visited another home in Dweir and disposed of a family of seven."

In a fifth attack, the Israeli terrorist forces bombed a building that was housing four families. No one survived. In another attack, a family -- after being told by the Israelis (through flyers that are dropped from their fighter planes) to evacuate -- went to the UN building for refuge. The UN threw them out. As they were leaving, their van was bombed. They were torn to pieces. Torn to pieces. See the pictures on www.angryarab.blogspot.com. See the pictures attached. These massacres have been continuing -- and these massacres, let us remember, are not unique in the history of Israeli aggression.

Vicious. Barbaric. Horrific. And Unjustified. Yes, unjustified. Let us remember: attacks by the Israeli Offensive Forces on the Lebanese border did not begin this Wednesday with the apprehending of two Israeli soldiers. For more than the past month, the Israeli army has been conducting live ammunition training on the border. Lebanese shepherds have been killed. The response from the "international community"? Silence. Let us remember: Israel continues to imprison Lebanese in their jails, and the call from Hezbollah has been clear for years: Hezbollah will work for their release. Lebanese are not the only ones held in Israeli jails; there are thousands of Arab prisoners. And in contrast to the incorrect reporting by The Guardian (UK), Hassan Narsallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, stated quite clearly that Hezbollah will use these 2 Israeli soldiers for negotiation and he did not specify the conditions; he did NOT say that he will release these soldiers only upon the release of all Arab prisoners in Israel. Let us also remember: Israel has refused to submit a map of the 400,000 land mines that it deliberately left in South Lebanon, and these mines regularly kill Lebanese children.

Regardless if one agrees with the action of Hezbollah or not, regardless if one views Hezbollah's action as a reaction or a provacation, regardless: the attacks by Israel are clearly not proportional. Furthermore, while Hezbollah has kidnapped soldiers, the Israeli army has been deliberately attacking civilians and imposing an illegal and terrorist collective punishment on the country as a whole. "[Israeli] Brigadier General Dan Halutz said: 'Nowhere is safe [in Lebanon] ... as simple as that.' "(From the Guardian (UK))

So, once again, I appeal to you. We are all expecting the situation to worsen in Lebanon. We are all expecting more massacres and more destruction to Lebanon's basic infrastructure.

** People have protested in Australia and in Germany. Protest in the United States, as well! Protest in solidarity with the Lebanese people -- who are standing united in the face of this aggression. The division is from the politicians, but not from the people. Protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people -- who have been standing strong for decades in the face of Israeli aggression. We Americans, you Americans, have a particular responsibility: these weapons that are being used to massacre and destroy are paid for by US taxpayer dollars, and supported by George Bush and an acquiscent Congress.

** Share these pictures with your local press. Meet with your local press and talk to them about what is happening in Lebanon. See: www.electroniclebanon.net for updates. Call for fair reporting. The Lebanese people being killed have names and faces. (I will share with you detailed stories as I gather them.)

** Call your Congressional representative and demand an immediate, unconditional end to Israeli aggression.

One more note to you all: In my constant calls to friends in the South, I have been hearing the same comment: We are strong. We are resilient. We will be victorious. This strenth of spirit is what our strongest weapon of resistance.

Rania Masri rania.masri@balamand.edu.lb

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