First we had Qana where 28 are confirmed dead (14 are missing there but it is still too dangerous to search the rubble for the remaining bodies). Now we have a new massacre du jour. Chiah, where the AP reports at least 30 bodies have been recovered after an IAF airstrike on two homes demolished them. That would make it the current ‘winner’ in the IAF ‘death sweepstakes.’ Here’s an earlier report from Blogging the Middle East which first alerted me to the story:
Some hours ago two residential buildings in Chiah were struck. Chiah is pretty close to Beirut, it’s a suburb, but closer to central Beirut than the suburbs that had so far been the focus of Israeli attacks. It’s to the east of Camille Cham’oun Stadium, north of Ghbeire, adjacent to Ain al-Remmene, and south of Furn al-Chebbek. The building collapsed. So far at least 20 bodies have been pulled out, and many more are missing.
And here’s the AP report:
Fourteen more bodies have been pulled from the wreckage of two buildings hit Monday night by Israeli airstrikes in a southern suburb of Beirut, bringing to 30 the number of deaths in what was believed to be the deadliest known attack of the monthlong war.
Police said 60 people were wounded in the attack on the Shiite Muslim Chiah district, which leveled one building and badly damaged another.
Rescuers labored overnight and all day Tuesday to retrieve bodies trapped under shards of concrete.
It was believed to be the single bloodiest Israeli attack on Lebanon in this war.
The Lebanese blog, UrShalim reports 56 dead and 50 injured. But I have not been able to confirm this figure through other sources.
This Yahoo!News headline articulates the stakes quite clearly: Beirut bombing risks retaliation on Tel Aviv. Nasrallah has promised to hit Tel Aviv if Israel resumed bombing Beirut. Now, with this new massacre the IAF has called his bluff. I don’t like this game of chicken. Neither side will win. Though the Lebanese will always come out worse since Israel has superior firepower. That’s the tragedy of it all.
The BBC reports the story but lists only 15 dead. Why in heavens name are the NY Times and Haaretz not reporting this story?? Checking GoogleNews almost no one’s covering it. Why?
UPDATE: I was not right when I said the Times had not covered the story nor when I said “almost no one’s covering it.” NYT featured a dramatic front page photo of a man being rescused as he dangled from a building balcony by one hand. But the image noted the building was located in a “Beirut suburb” without providing any specific location. And I did not find any coverage of the incident within the paper. Other meda sources have convered the story but used up to four variants in the spelling of “Chiah.” So it was hard to track the coverage. But the main point of my argument still holds. Coverage was spotty, unsustained and imprecise. Another disservice done by the world media to Lebanon’s poor suffering population.
Anarchristian of Blogging the Middle East has written me this private e mail about the tragic event in which he confirms the figure of “above 50 killed”:
The figure is somewhere above 50 killed so far (and many more injured), according to Lebanese sources. Many are still trapped under the rubble; the morning after the attack, it was reported that people were still alive under the rubble and had been calling out for help. I think the figure (this was the morning after the attack, so they might have recovered some of the bodies) of those trapped under the rubble in what was perceived to be a group of refugees who had sought refuge in the shelter of one of the buildings was somewhere around 30-40. The two buildings were actually full of people – many of them refugees, as those areas were not expected to be targeted.
Well, I think 30 days of continuous bombardment all over the country and the deliberate targeting of residential neighbourhoods with full knowledge that civilians have not left those areas, has created a feeling of ‘yeah, another massacre, what’s new?’… I would say the outrage following the latest Qana massacre has to do with the Qana massacre in 1996… People were outraged the first time it happened, and they were outraged at the international cover-up, and a 2nd massacre at the same place (and the predictable international aloofness) just made it worse…