I’m calling it A.Q–After Qana. Everything that happens after Qana in this miserable conflict will be colored by Israel’s grisly massacre there yesterday. And everything that happened before as well. At the beginning of the current war, I predicted here that such a gruesome event would occur and that it would spell the end of the operation. I didn’t know what precisely would happen and when. But I knew such a horrible accident had to happen given the IDF’s awful record of killing the guilty with the innocent in Gaza. Now it has.
The only question is whether the Bush Administration has enough saychel (“common sense”) to realize that Israel has played its last card and that it’d be best to call it quits before far worse things transpire. The NY Times characterizes our ‘disastrous’ position thus:
By refusing to call for an immediate cease-fire, even in the face of the Qana bombing, Ms. Rice was teetering on the edge of a public relations disaster, particularly in the Arab world. All day on Sunday, scenes of dead children being pulled out of the wreckage at Qana dominated the airwaves…
Israeli officials continued to say, publicly, that they needed more time to diminish Hezbollah’s military abilities, and America’s insistence on reaching agreement on a political package before calling for a cease-fire worked to give Israel that time.
But that left the impression that Ms. Rice and the Bush administration were willing to stomach the killing of innocent children to reach their larger aims.
And given this cloud-cuckoo land comment from the State Department’s number 3 official, I’d say the U.S. is still willing to drink that Israeli cool-aid:
This has not been a good 2 1/2 weeks for Hezbollah from a military point of view, and they’ve got to be worried about continued Israeli offensive operations.”
I’d say Mr. Nicholas Burns, you’ve got a lot more to be worried about than Hezbollah does. Israel has just blown U.S. Mideast policy and its own invasion to smithereens and you’re still crowing about how cool the Israeli operation has been. Reality bites and it’s just bitten you, Mr. Secretary.
I’m hoping that this abrupt turnabout in Israel policy is the beginning of the end of its abominable invasion of Lebanon. But you wouldn’t know it from this desperate Israeli attempt to escape the obvious:
A senior government source said Monday morning that despite a 48-hour halt in Israel Air Force activity in Lebanon, “there is no cease-fire.”
…[Justice Minister Haim] Ramon told Army Radio: “This (suspension) decision will allow us to continue the war over time and it will take off some of the political pressure, so I am sure this is the right decision for now. It is not stopping the war.
“If it ends today it means a victory for Hezbollah … and for world terror, with far-reaching consequences. Therefore this war is not about to end, not today and not tomorrow,” he said.
Imagine the incredulity with which I greeted this bit of chutzpah from the IDF which essentially says, “well, maybe we weren’t responsible after all:”
The Israel Defense Forces indicated yesterday that it might not have been responsible for the deaths of at least 54 Lebanese, including 37 children , when a building bombed in an Israeli air strike in the village of Qana collapsed yesterday – but was unable to offer an alternative explanation.
The IDF is claiming that it bombed the building at 12 midnight but that it didn’t fall down immediately. What it’s leaving out is that a precision guided bomb could easily kill all the inhabitants with its impact without necessarily immediately bringing the structure down. If you look at images of the dead you can see that the bodies of almost all are quite intact. It wasn’t the building’s colapse that killed them but the blast force of the bomb. To argue otherwise is, well, simply preposterous. I’d urge them to give it up, face facts and fess up.
You’ll recall that Israel responded to Jan Egeland’s recent proposal for a 72 hour ceasefire allowing Lebanese refugees to flee their villages for safety by saying there was no need for it. Amazing how a grisly massacre can make a nation suddenly become a little bit more responsive to the world’s moral concerns:
The bombing, the bloodiest incident in Israel’s 18-day campaign against Hizbullah, drew condemnation from around the world. Late last night Israel announced a suspension of aerial activities in southern Lebanon for 48 hours and said it would coordinate with the UN to allow a 24-hour window for residents in southern Lebanon to leave the area if they wished.
For more on this ghastly massacre read the Guardian’s heartbreaking coverage. This article says the death toll will climb north of 60 and that 34 of the dead were children. There were only eight known survivors of 100 people sheltering in the building. I never would have thought that I would call the IDF child murderers. I don’t go in for histrionics and overstatement. But what else can you call this? There are now 750 Lebanese dead, mostly civilians and half children.
Oh and hey, George Bush, your fingerprints are all over this too. Guess who supplied the bomb that killed them:
The strike that destroyed the building was a precision-guided bomb dropped from the air, the same kind of bomb that destroyed a UN position in Khiyam last week, killing four UN observers. Writing on an olive green fragment of the munition which appeared to have caused the explosion read: GUIDED BOMB BSU 37/B.
The IDF response to their deadly act has been worse than pathetic. The reason they bombed the building? Because rockets had been fired from Qana. Notice they didn’t say that rockets had been fired from the building. In fact they admit that they hadn’t:
…The house that was hit had no direct connection to the rocket-launching cells.
It appears that the building may’ve been hit because of the IDF’s contention that Hezbollah fighters run for cover to civilian buildings after launching rockets:
IAF officials said that immediately after firing rockets at Israel, some Hezbollah cells hide in civilian houses in built-up areas in southern Lebanon.
So in order to deprive Hezbollah of cover you destroyed a building killing 60 civilians in the process. Bravo!
What about that vaunted IDF intelligence prowess? Listen to the clear logic of this Qana resident:
Mohsen Hachem stared at the images. “They had to have known there were children in that house,” he said. “The drones are always overhead, and those children – there were more than 30 – would play outside all day.”
You mean to tell me that the IAF bombed a building without taking any daylight reconnaissance photos of it? And if they’d taken those photos you could undoubtedly tell civilians were in and around it. It simply beggars belief.
More from the masters of moral obfuscation at the IDF:
“We don’t know what the people were doing in the basement. It is possible they were being used as shields or being used cynically to further Hizbullah’s propaganda purposes,” the spokesman said. “We apologise. We couldn’t be more sorry about the loss of civilian life.”
Why certainly. It’s all Hezbollah’s fault. Somehow a Hezbollah fighter managed to drop that bomb on that building. But really, to say Hezbollah forced the civilians to be in the building without providing a shred of evidence that this is so–it shows utter desperation on the IDF’s part to foist the blame where it doesn’t belong. No, I’m afraid this time you’ll have to shoulder all the blame yourself, IDF.
Let’s give the last word to one of the eight survivors:
Zaineb Shalhoub, in the next bed, rested quietly.
“There’s nobody left in our village,” she said. “Not a human or a stone.”