Friday, July 21, 2006

Update from the Arab NGO Network for Development

And the death toll increases….
At least 55 civilians were killed and scores wounded in a series of Israeli raids across Lebanon Wednesday in the deadliest day since the bombardment began one week ago. A total of 310 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and hundreds injured.

Another massacre!
Twenty-one Lebanese civilians were killed and 30 others wounded in raids on the Southern village of Srifa, where 10 houses were destroyed. "Fighter-bombers and helicopters carried out a series of raids lasting two hours between 1:00 am and 3:00 am (22:00 GMT-midnight Tuesday) on the same sector in the centre of the village, part of which was completely destroyed," one resident reported. Israeli gunboats also took part in the attack on the village.

Oups, wrong target!
Israeli helicopters fired four rockets on a residential neighborhood of central Beirut- the first direct strikes in the heart of the Lebanese capital. The rockets hit a piece of water-bore drilling equipment in a parking lot behind a police station. Maybe they thought it were a missile launcher! (From the Lebanese daily newspaper www.dailystar.com.lb)

The United Nations human rights chief Louise Arbour said that the scale of killing in Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories could involve war crimes. "The scale of the killings in the region, and their predictability, could engage the personal criminal responsibility of those involved, particularly those in a position of command and control," she said.

There are "serious questions" over Israel's conduct in Lebanon said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRD) on Wednesday, as civilians bear the brunt of the Jewish state's strikes on Lebanon. "The high number of civilian casualties and the extent of damage to essential public infrastructure raise serious questions regarding respect for the principle of proportionality in the conduct of hostilities," ICRC director of operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl told journalists at the organization’s Geneva base. (From AFP)

Today was relatively quite compared to the seven previous days. This was because foreigners were evacuating from Lebanon and Israeli gave them space to finish that. Moreover, the European Union delegation headed by Xavier Solana met with the Israeli Prime Minister, who assured Solana that the official decision of the Israeli government is that the war against Lebanon will continue until the two soldiers captured by Hezbollah will be released. Today, Lebanese Prime Minister convened the diplomatic missions to Lebanon to launch an urgent appeal to the international community for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and assistance to our war ravaged Lebanon.
Warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe are on the rise, with 500,000 people displaced by the Israeli onslaught and blockade through air and sea.

Watching bombs from the bar - a holiday in Beirut (Commentary by Paul Hughes)
You know your holiday has taken a turn for the worse when the hotel slips a note under your door with directions to the bomb shelter. Blissfully unaware and delighted to be going to our favorite Middle Eastern city, my wife and I reached Beirut just as Hizbollah militants seized two Israeli soldiers, sparking an Israeli military onslaught on Lebanon.

Instead of the exhausting nightlife and wonderful food we had anticipated in a city regaining its swagger after decades of war, we now had front-row seats on a show of Israeli firepower. During Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, foreign correspondents such as myself used to marvel at the ability of Beirut's hotels to keep them in pressed shirts and fine wine, even at the height of the fighting. Now, here we were on the terrace of our hotel's piano bar as missiles crashed into a residential area that we overlooked. Beirut is largely defenseless against Israeli air power. A few half-hearted bursts of anti-aircraft fire were barely enough to drown out the chanteuse stumbling through John Lennon's "Imagine".

"ANOTHER DRINK, SIR?" The impeccable waiters, epitomizing the standards Lebanon's tourism trade tried to maintain in the dark days of civil war, hardly batted an eyelid as the ambulances wailed below, "Another Caipirinha, sir?"

Before the bombing, the hotels were packed with wealthy Gulf tourists and Lebanese emigrants, and this was going to be their best summer for decades. Beirut had begun to believe it was at last recapturing its glory as the playground of the Middle East. For all their stiff upper lips, the hotel staffs, like most Lebanese, are devastated. The dream has gone again, amid pictures of dead and wounded, ruined buildings and bridges, and thousands of people sheltering in schools and parks.

By the time we decided to leave, three days after the fighting erupted, the hotel was virtually deserted…Usually Damascus is a two-hour taxi ride from Beirut costing $100 (55 pounds). On Saturday, the hotel concierge said he could find us only one driver willing to risk the trip, and he wanted $1,000……


This update was prepared by the Arab NGO Network for Development- information was collected from various news agencies, but mostly from blogs created by civil society groups and individual activists- for more information please visit our website at www.annd.org, email us at annd@annd.org, phone us at +961-1-319366 or fax us at +961-1-815636

2 Comments:

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