The IDF seems to meet its Waterloo in the village of Qana whenever it invades Lebanon. In 1996, during Operation Grapes of Wrath (another anti-Hezbollah military action) the army shelled a UN peacekeeping position that happened to house refugees fleeing the battles. More than 100 died. And that was the end of Operation Grapes of Wrath.
Now Haaretz reports that history has repeated itself in almost the same terms. The IDF attacked today a building in Qana that was sheltering 100 civilian refugees:
Some 35 Lebanese civilians were killed, 21 of them children, in an Israel Air Force strike on a building in the south Lebanon village of Qana on Sunday morning. Dozens of others were reportedly trapped in the rubble…
Several houses collapsed and a three-story building where about 100 civilians were sheltering was destroyed, witnesses and rescue workers said.
The IDF said it had warned residents of Qana to leave and said Hezbollah bore responsibility for using it to fire rockets at Israel.
Reuters also reports this sorry-assed statement from Ehud Olmet:
“All the residents were warned and told to leave. No one was ordered to fire on civilians and we have no policy of killing innocent people,” Israeli media quoted Olmert as saying.
Does anyone believe this joker anymore? I am sorry to be so disrespectful. I usually accord prime ministers at least a modicum of respect. But this garbage is beneath contempt.
Al Jazeera reports 65 dead while Reuters reports the death toll is likely to rise somewhere near 60 people. It would appear that many more names may be added to the current death toll based on the number of missing buried under the rubble.
The utter moral depravity of the Israeli reaction is underscored by the IDF blaming the victims for remaining in their village rather than obeying the order to evacuate. Because the civilians refused (in the IDF’s eyes) their order, they were no longer civilians but somehow dupes of Hezbollah who no longer deserved any rights of protection reserved for civilians. How utterly bankrupt a position!
AP reports this interaction with those searching for bodies in the rubble:
Residents said the dead were from four families who had gathered to spend the night on the ground floor of a three-story building, believing they would be safer from bombings.
Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV station said 21 children were killed.
”We want this to stop!” shouted Mohammed Ismail, a villager whose brown pants were covered in dust. ”May God have mercy on the children. They came here to escape the fighting.”
”They are hitting children to bring the fighters to their knees,” he said.
The Times is also reporting that George Bush may be placing Israel on a shorter leash after his meeting with Tony Blair. In other words, he may be giving Israel even less time than previously thought to wrap up its Lebanon misadventure. I have little doubt that Qana may be the seal of doom for the current invasion. In a single bombing today, Israel has produced over 10% of all the Lebanese civilian fatalities in this war.
The Lebanese prime minister has refused to see Condi Rice on her current Mideast trip till there is a ceasefire in place. I’d say that puts the kibosh on any progress she can make. And it just might put the kind of pressure that is necessary on both the U.S. and Israel to cave on the “immediate ceasefire” issue. Let’s hope.
End this war now!!
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.