Act for Change & Amnesty International – 2006-08-05 08:57:17
Support an Immediate Cease-Fire in Lebanon
A growing number of representatives are supporting House Concurrent Resolution 450, calling for an immediate end to the violence in Lebanon and negotiation of a settlement to be enforced by international peacekeepers. This resolution is the best hope for an end to the rapidly rising civilian toll in this deeply troubled region, and should be approved in Congress.
Click here to ask your representative to support H.C.R. 450.
The United States bears a special moral responsibility in this crisis as the only nation that can bring an end to the violence and relieve the humanitarian catastrophe. The current policy of delay only leads to more unnecessary civilian deaths in both Lebanon and Israel.
Ongoing conflict in Lebanon is also likely to have great consequences for the region, the world and the safety of our nation and its allies. Ask your representative to support an immediate cease-fire.
Click here to send a message in support of an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon.
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‘No More Fule’: Lebanon as Seen by a Lebanese Woman
Now, there are talks of a fuel shortage in the country, so even the most essential institutions such as the hospitals, the bread bakeries, the gas stations,… so the people are panicking and the waiting lines at the gas stations are pretty scary, and you are only allowed a gallon a car… but some sources say the fuel shortage will happen within a week or ten days, so there is no need to worry…
The problem is the lack of centralized sources in this type of crisis for information, and the lack of presence of the government and different ministries… also, the gas stations are the ones deciding to open, when to open, the time range, without a close control from the government…
And the Lebanese citizen is once again left unprotected and exposed, to the Israeli bombs, to the cheap exploitation of merchants, and to the money making institutions that are assessing their own financial interests first without being asked or questioned by any authority….
Of the 900,000 displaced thus far, the Lebanese government estimates that at least 700,000 are being housed by relatives. A rough survey would indicate that practically all of these new households have lost at least one July salary, if not more.
There is a 22-person household in Karm el-Zeitoun (a poor East Beirut neighborhood) where no one got paid at all this month.
Of those living in the schools, especially the families displaced from southern Lebanon or the Bekaa Valley, most worked in agriculture, and thus have lost their entire year’s livelihood (as well as, quite possibly, their homes).
Results after 19 Days
The Human Toll in Lebanon
• 600 civilian deaths, a third of which are children (this number might double once rescue workers are able to reach 13 inaccessible villages where bodies are buried underneath destroyed residential buildings)
• 1,600 injured civilians
• 750,000 refugees (representing 12% of the population), of which 100,000 are sleeping in empty schools, parking lots and public gardens
• 65 killed and wounded (mostly women and children, many handicapped) in Qana when an Israeli airstrike leveled a four-story residential building used as a shelter by refugees
• 4 international UN observers killed in an attack on their post in Khiyam even though the UNIFIL had warned the Israeli army several times that they were hitting too close
• 2 Indian UN peacekeepers wounded in an Israeli air raid on their post
• Attempts at creating a humanitarian corridor unsuccessful because of the destroyed bridges and roads that do not allow access to the villages that have the greatest humanitarian needs in the South
• Inability for ambulances and civil defense crews to reach areas with heavy civilian casualties because of intense bombardment
• Only 10% of the humanitarian aid needed has arrived to the country by ship or plane
• Refusal by Israël to allow for a 72-hour truce as requested by Jan Egeland, the UN’s top official for humanitarian relief, to evacuate the wounded, the children, the elderly and the disabled from the crossfire
• Bombing of a medical convoy from the Emirates
• Bombing of 2 Red Cross ambulances (Israel claims that Hezballah uses ambulances to move weapons, yet there has been no proof of that and only civilians have died when these ambulances were attacked)
• Bombing of 3 hospitals
• Bombing of fleeing civilian cars and buses
• Over 4500 air attacks mostly on villages where civilians haven’t been able to evacuate because of the bombings and destroyed roads
Human Rights and War Crimes Implications for Israel
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights claims that Israel’s actions in Lebanon could lead to the prosecution of its military commanders. A statement was issued suggesting that the failure to spare civilians is a clear violation of international criminal law.
• Human Rights Watch claims that Israel has used artillery-fired cluster munitions in populated areas of Lebanon. Researchers on the ground in Lebanon confirmed that a cluster munitions attack on the village of Blida on July 19 killed one and wounded at least 12 civilians, including seven children. Human Rights Watch researchers also photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.
• Human Rights Watch claims that Israel may be guilty of war crimes, citing: the destruction of about 60% of a nine square blocks area of southern Beirut composed mostly of apartment buildings, attacks on the village of Srifa, in which 10 houses were destroyed and at least 42 civilians killed, attacks on a vehicle of villagers fleeing Marwaheen, in which 16 civilians were killed. All these events took place despite the alleged absence of legitimate military target in sight.
• Blackened bodies of children and civilians are showing up in hospitals with no sign of being burnt (hair is still present) indicating that Israel is using weapons with toxic material. Tests indicate the presence of an unidentified chemical substance. The Human Rights Watch is still to verify whether Israel is using phosphorus in their weapons.
• Amnesty International has denounced “blatant” violations of international law and called on the UN to deploy an immediate fact-finding mission to investigate attacks against civilians and other breaches of international law.
• Amnesty International has also called for an arms embargo on Israel and Hezbollah amidst concerns on the transfer of weapons from the US to Israel, via Britain
Lebanese Infrastructure, Economical and Industrial Toll (overall losses valued at more than 2 billion dollars)
• Air, sea and terrestrial blockade
• Bombing of the Beirut International Airport
• Bombing of the Rayak military airport and Qaleiat domestic airport
• Bombing of the ports of Beirut, Jounieh, Tripoli and Tyr
• Bombing of the roads from Beirut to Damascus
• Destruction of at least 5000 private homes and residential buildings in villages in the south of Lebanon, in the south of Beirut and in the Christian center of Beirut, Achrafieh
• Bombing of hundreds of firms and industrial factories (losses valued at more than 150 million dollars)
• Destruction of the main Lebanese milk factory, Liban LAIT, of a tissue paper factory, a bottle factory, a packaging firm and a wood plant
• Bombing of food and humanitarian trucks
• Destruction of all the main bridges (at least 100 bridges, most of them newly built, including Mdairej bridge, the highest one in the Middle East, which cost an estimated 44 million dollars), dams and overpasses
• Destruction of more than 600km of roads (many in the south, making it impossible for civilians to flee their villages)
• Bombing of religious symbols: Imam Ali mosque (Baalbeck), prayer centers and Greek orthodox church
• Bombing of most power plants, power stations, sewage plants, water facilities, fuel stations and transport trucks
• Bombing of the historical port of Byblos resulting in a huge oil spill
• Destruction of the historical headlight of Manara
• Bombing 300 meters away from the World Heritage site of Baalbeck’s ancient Roman temples of Jupiter and Bacchus, the largest ever and best preserved temples which carry the six highest Roman columns in the world.
• Bombing of Lebanese military barracks and radar installations which are not supposed to be weakened or involved in the fight
• Bombing of the telecommunication infrastructure (losses valued at more than 15 million dollars): mobile networks of Faraya, Jounieh, Zghorta (in the Christian areas), radio antennas, TV stations LBC and Manar
• Biggest ecological crisis ever in the Mediterranean resulting from the bombing of the Jiyeh power plant: 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes of oil have spilled into the sea, affecting not only 1/3 of the Lebanese coast, its sea life and marine ecosystem (including the endangered green turtle), but also the coasts of Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, Greece and Israel. This oil spill is of the size of the Erika oil spill that affected Spain and France but its impact more serious considering that it is not an open ocean as with the Erika oil spill.