Lebanese fight on amid hail of bombs
Aug. 9—Israel’s war cabinet overwhelmingly decided today to send its troops deeper into Lebanon. This decision is a major expansion of the ground war. It is an attempt to destroy the resistance movement led by Hezbollah before any kind of cease-fire is agreed on by the imperialist powers in collusion with Israel.
It is important to look at what Israel’s U.S.-supplied jet aircraft, attack helicopters, tanks, armored earth movers, laser-guided bunker busters and cluster bombs have already done to a country less than half the size and less than half the population of the state of New Jersey.
Israeli planes—more than 60 at a time —circle off the coast of Lebanon waiting their turn to drop bombs on a country that has no defense system against aerial assaults
Whole sections of Beirut, Tyre and Sidon have been leveled. More than 75 percent of the southern part of Beirut is destroyed. The south of Lebanon has been depopulated. Villages and towns smashed. The infrastructure—including airports, ports, highways, major bridges, electric generating plants and oil refineries—was destroyed in the first days of the Israeli attack.
Casualties are far higher than the 1,000 recorded deaths—a third of them children—because rescue workers are no longer able to reach most bombed sites. There is no count of the thousands of lives lost due to extreme stress, lack of needed medicines or unsanitary water.
On Aug. 6—the anniversary of the U.S. dropping an atomic weapon on Hiroshima—the independent Israeli Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological & Chemical Weapons issued a report about the many bunker-busting bombs—GBU-28—Israel has received from the Pentagon. The report states that the bombs contain depleted uranium, which spreads toxic and radioactive dust.
Most of the population now lacks basic supplies. Fuel is so scarce that even generators rarely function. The bombing of oil storage tanks near the coast has created an environmental disaster—beaches, estuaries and the water supply are contaminated with oil. Electricity, sanitation and garbage pick-up have disappeared. Social service organizations, humanitarian organizations and hospitals are overwhelmed.
More than 25 percent of the population—a million people—is homeless. Refugees are packed into schools, mosques, city parks and along highways.
The national resistance led and organized by Hezbollah has dealt continuing blows to the Israeli army. The Israeli military, once considered invincible in its armored tanks, has been slowed, diverted and even held back by the anti-tank weapons of the resistance.
Even though Hezbollah lacks rockets with the precision or the enormous destructive power of U.S.-supplied Israeli bombs, it still has the capacity to fire more than a 100 a day, shutting down the northern third of Israel.
Hezbollah has spent years organizing and training many thousands of people in military tactics. It also paid great attention to the social and economic needs of the poorest segments of society.
The well-constructed maze of tunnels and bunkers has enabled the highly organized, small units of Hezbollah and other resistance groups to conduct numerous ambushes.
Every tank that is destroyed, every helicopter gunship that is shot down sends the message that Israel is not invincible.
In past invasions, Israel was able to draw support from the most conservative and privileged segments of Lebanese society—even establishing a fascist army of collaborators. French colonialism, U.S. and Israeli policies have all reinforced the centuries-old divisions of Lebanon into rigid religious, ethnic and political groups.
But this time, the massive destruction Israel has inflicted—and the organized military resistance and political mobilization to meet it—has united Lebanon against Israel and against the U.S.
As the Israeli military strategy has failed, Tel Aviv finds itself in a crisis similar to the U.S. quagmire in Iraq. The whole Middle East is electrified by seeing that a popular mobilization of the people is a powerful weapon. Throughout the entire region, Washington’s full support for the war has overwhelmingly united and hardened popular opinion against U.S. imperialism.
Charges of war crimes
Three Jewish Moroccans have submitted to the High Court in Rabat a document charging Moroccan-born Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz with war crimes.
The leftist activist Abraham Tsarfati, author Amran al-Malich and human rights official Zion Asidon charge that Peretz should be tried in Morocco due to his dual Moroccan/Israeli citizenship. They explain, “Moroccan law allows the trial of any Moroccan national who has committed war crimes in or out of the country.”
Defense Minister Peretz’s role exposes the bankruptcy of liberal Zionists—in a crisis they are Zionists first. Peretz is a former Peace Now activist and head of the Zionist Trade Union Organization, Hista drut. His election as head of the Israeli Labor Party was heralded in Israel, and even by some progressives in the U.S., as a sign of big changes.
Yet the Labor Party has been part of the Israeli government, together with the Likud Party, for most of the six years of the Pales tinian Intifada. The role of the Labor Party in Israel is similar to that of the Democratic Party in U.S. imperialist politics.
The massive proof of Israeli war crimes and the blatant U.S. support for these crimes has outraged even those who would usually remain silent.
Israel has targeted clearly marked Red Cross ambulances, refugee convoys, a bomb shelter in Qana, hospitals and the entire civilian infrastructure. UN Human i tarian Coordinator for Lebanon David Shearer warned that, “The deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure is a violation of international law.”
The Guardian of Britain reported on Aug. 8 that Israel “has threatened to attack UN peacekeepers if they attempted to repair bomb-damaged bridges in South ern Lebanon.”
Planning & preparation for war
Israel’s invasion and all-out assault on Lebanon and its massive attack on Pales tinians in Gaza were not the result of the capture of a single Israeli soldier by Hamas in Gaza, nor of Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border.
These soldiers were captured to press for a prisoner exchange of the more than 10,000 prisoners held by Israel. There have been relentless Israeli attacks on both areas for years and there have been resistance actions by both organizations, and other Palestinian and Lebanese forces.
The July 21 San Francisco Chronicle explained: “Israel’s military response by air, land and sea to what it considered a provocation last week by Hezbollah militants is unfolding according to a plan finalized more than a year ago.”
A Washington Post article on July 16 was entitled, “Strikes Are Called Part of Broad Strategy: U.S., Israel Aim to Weaken Hezbollah, Region’s Militants.”
UN resolutions for a cease-fire
After resisting calls for a cease-fire when Israel first started its bombing campaign, the U.S., together with France, has now put forward a “cease-fire resolution” in the UN Security Council that is in reality a plan to formalize the Israeli occupation and reinforce it with an international military force.
It calls for disarming Hezbollah but not the Israeli military. It does not even call for an Israeli troop withdrawal from Lebanon. Israeli forces would actually remain until a future resolution put an international force in their place.
The resolution allows Israel to continue its offensive military operations “for defensive purposes.”
Jonathan Cooke, a journalist based in Nazareth, noted in an Aug. 7 Znet article that Hebrew Language media said the plan was drafted with “close Israeli involvement.”
Washington, which is behind Israel all the way, has blocked all previous international calls for a cease-fire. The resolution is strictly a ploy by the imperialists to come up with a plan that Hezbollah cannot accept.
Danger of wider war
As Israel expands the war, and moves deeper into Lebanon, the danger of wider war grows.
Israeli war planes bombed the Syrian border town of al-Qaa on Aug. 5, killing 33 Syrian farm workers and Lebanese civilians and wounding 14. In two letters to the UN, Syria demanded a full UN investigation of the massacres of civilians at al-Qaa and at the bomb shelter at Qana, in Lebanon.
The Israeli media is reporting that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a meeting of 50 government spokespeople on Aug. 7, “Our enemy is not Hezbollah, but Iran, which employs Hezbollah as its agent.”
With the U.S. war in Iraq more unwin nable with each passing day, and a powerful resistance in Lebanon, the threat grows that the Bush administration will push to widen the war. Large sections of the anti-war movement in the West have historically supported the state of Israel, which marches in lockstep with U.S. imperialism’s aims in the Middle East. These latest assaults on the Lebanese and Pales tinian people show that it is just not possible to be for Israel and still be anti-war.
The Arab and Muslim people of the entire region are under fierce and widening attack. They are waging a heroic resistance.
What is needed now is international solidarity that recognizes the justice of their cause.