Friday, July 21, 2006

Update from the Arab NGO Network for Development - July 20th

Nothing can describe the feeling of having worked tirelessly for 15 years rebuilding a country from the ruins of war, only to see it once again laid waste within a period of days.(This is one thought that most of the Lebanese have on their mind everyday)

Israel finds new pretexts to kill Lebanese civilians. The Israeli military seems to have "discovered" a new threat in trucks and vans, some of which were carrying civilians and medical supplies, but Israel maintains were bringing weapons and supplies to Hezbollah fighters. A Lebanese military jeep and a civilian van were destroyed when they were attacked by Israeli warplanes. An Israeli jet also fired four rockets on a truck used to drill for water, which reportedly was mistaken for a missile launcher. A convoy of trucks was also struck before dawn by Israeli jets, in east of Beirut. The attacks prompted acting Interior Minister to warn civilians Wednesday to stay clear of trucks, after Israeli air strikes appeared to be targeting any vehicle that could be used to transport weapons. (From

Here are some thoughts on American media
In a photo gallery posted on the CNN website, one can find three kinds of pictures: an extensive collection of pictures for people evacuating Lebanon through luxurious ships or military helicopters, pictures of Arab-Israelis looking at a whole in the ground caused by a missile by Hezbollah, then a picture of an Israeli man in his house impacted by another Hezbollah missile. That is how CNN sums up the Israeli attack on Lebanon. Palestine Media Watch called CNN asking their International Desk about their lack of coverage of civilian suffering on the Lebanese side, and the person answering the call, a Jennifer (the phone number for the CNN international desk is: 404/ 827-1519), explained that the reason for that was that they did not have enough equipment and could not be everywhere all the time! An absurd proposition, obviously, since the same heavy bias applies to their web site! Read more on:

An Arab-American wrote to NBC: NBC refers to what Israel is doing as "the attack on Hezbollah". How is this? The attacks are not limited to Southern Lebanon, nor are they limited to Hezbollah militants. Is not much of Beirut in ruin? Are not most of the Lebanese victims innocent civilians? Why is this not referred to as an attack on Lebanon? ….Of course, anyone can sympathize with the old Israeli woman sitting on the stairs crying, or the people running to their bomb shelters, or the family who has just found out they lost a loved one. Why don't we see the same from the Lebanese side? I'm not referring to the American students at the university who seem to be in relative comfort working on their laptop computers discussing when they will be evacuated. With over 10 times as many Lebanese dead, surely there are numerous opportunities for equally gripping reports from Lebanon, no? To read the whole letter please visit:

Note on UN role
I am starting to wonder why the United Nations exists. The UN is still not able to take a decision at the level of policy making in the Security Council to protect a small country like Lebanon, which is torn apart by the Israeli killing machines. Nor are the peace keeping missions of the UN able to protect the people, the groups of villagers that are begging for refuge from the terrorism of a “state” that have isolated itself from any concept of human rights. They (UN mission) claimed there was a massacre in 1996 (The Kana Massacre) when the UN mission took in a group of Lebanese southerners who were fleeing the Israeli war planes, but was targeted directly by the Israeli missiles. But from 1996 till 2006 the UN did not look and investigate this massacre, they did not even hold Israel responsible for this massacre. The situation is leading a lot of us, people that work on daily basis to strengthen the United Nations system and the respect of its conventions, to question the benefit out of supporting an international system that cannot protect us when we really need.

"We are not targeting civilians!"
Commentary from
In a debate with an Israeli blindly supportive of the Israeli government yesterday, he said that Israel is not killing civilians. It is not intending to kill civilians. It is all a matter of intention? So, all these hundreds of Lebanese civilians killed- they have been killed "accidentally." Their homes must have been destroyed by accident, their schools, their hospitals, their churches and mosques, their cars as they try to escape on the roads -- all of these attacks have been unintentional. hmm….

So, if with all the military precision that Israel has, if with all the most up-to-date military weaponry supplied (with US taxpayer money) by the country with the most advanced weaponry (US), Israel still continues to "accidentally" kill civilians, hundreds and counting, then perhaps we should all be demanding a disarmament of the state of the Israel. They seem not to know how to use military weapons. Let’s disarm both sides. No one-way disarmament should be allowed.

(After a milk factory was destroyed two days ago, a fish farm and a chicken farm were targeted and destroyed by Israel as well. Yes! Lebanese fish, chicken, and even milk can be quite dangerous as well)

Let’s hear from the displaced Lebanese: (Taken from article by Sonia Knox)
Fatima in Nasra School: Fatima is 10. Her head is shaved, because the whole family got lice at the first school they stayed in, coming up from the South. “Hello, what’s the situation?” Fatima asks, holding my phone upside down to her ear. “This is Fatima Hashem, reporting live from Beirut. We have one hundred people here in the school. They’re sleeping on the floor, on mattresses. Last night I couldn’t sleep because it was hot. So I went outside. Then Mama came out and told me not to go outside anymore at night. So tonight I get to sleep next to the window.”

Walid, volunteer at Nasra School: “My uncle is staying with us. He had a building in Tyre (A Southern village), and three stores in the same center in Dahieh. First they bombed his building in Tyre, then the same day they bombed the building in Dahieh, and it collapsed. ‘It’s ok,’ he told me, ‘I still have all the keys’.”

From the words of the Lebanese Prime Minister (for more check “……Is the value of human life in Lebanon less than that of the citizens of other countries? Can the international community stand by while such callous retribution by Israel is inflicted on us? Will you allow innocent civilians, churches, mosques, orphanages, medical supplies escorted by the Red Cross, people seeking shelter or fleeing their homes and villages to be the casualties of this ugly war? Is this what the international community calls self-defense?
Is this the price we pay for aspiring to build our democratic institutions? Is this the message to send to the country of diversity, freedom and tolerance? Only last year, the Lebanese filled the streets with hope and with red, green and white banners shouting out: Lebanon deserves life! What kind of life is being offered to us now?
We shall spare no avenue to make Israel compensate the Lebanese people for the barbaric destruction it has inflicted and continues to inflict upon us, knowing full well that human life is irreplaceable….
We the Lebanese want life. We have chosen life. We refuse to die. Our choice is clear. We have survived wars and destruction over the ages. We shall do so again.”

News coming from the Security Council: Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan, presented a report at the UN tonight and asked for immediate cease fire and for sending multinational peacekeeping forces to Southern Lebanon for three main reasons: 1) to relief people under siege in the areas of military actions and evacuate injuries and civilians 2) to let humanitarian aids access to Lebanon 3) to give a chance for diplomacy to find a solution.

US ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton, stressed that there will be no negotiations at this stage.

The first civic activity on the streets of Beirut since the beginning of the Israeli attacks: The morning of Thursday 20th of July 2006, more than 400 Lebanese citizens and representative of civil society organizations organized a rally in downtown Beirut to strongly demand an immediate ceasefire. This rally took place while Israel continues its collective punishment of the Lebanese people by bombing civilians and infrastructure, and holding the whole country under siege.

The rally started in front of the UN building in downtown Beirut, and ended at the European Union (EU) house. The group of civil society organizations, which organized the rally and call themselves “Lebanese Civil Society Organizations For Life”, submitted a memo to the UN Secretary General and the EU head of mission, in which they demanded for ceasefire in sympathy with the innocent civilians and what is left of lives in the country.

The message delivered by the EU head of mission to the demonstrators is that there will not be a cease fire unless Hezbollah gives a positive sign (hinting to the release of the two captured Israeli soldiers). Hezbollah’s response was that the cease fire should be immediate and without conditions, and the release of the captured soldiers will take place after indirect negotiations with Israel (referring to the mediating role to exchange Lebanese and Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons with the two soldiers).

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, email us at, phone us at +961-1-319366 or fax us at +961-1-815636.


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