Socialist Worker is gathering reports from Lebanon. These will be updated regularly
Latest situation in Lebanon
16 July 2006
Around 60,000 refugees from the south of Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut have arrived in the capital. Schools have been opened for them to shelter in and activists are organising relief. Many schools are now full and refugees are gathering in Sanayeh Park and other open-air sites around Beirut. There are reports that schools in the Christian areas of Keserwan and Metn are opening for the refugees.
Many of these refugees have said that the villages in the south of Lebanon are full of people who are unable to leave as roads are being bombed and bus convoys attacked.
Terror in Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps
12 noon (British time), 17 July 2006
Alaa, a Palestinian refugee living in the Sabra and Chatilla, spoke to Socialist Worker
“The camps are almost completely empty. There is a fear that the Israelis will return and finish what they did during the massacre in 1982. Some have gone to Syria, others have taken to the shelters.”
“There is not enough food. We fear the worst, we have nowhere to hide. We are preparing for an Israeli attack on our camp.”
Refugees in the schools
16 July 2006
Rafael Greenblatt, a US socialist living in Beirut
“The bombs have been getting closer. There are a lot of refugees coming into central Beirut from the southern part of the country and also from the southern suburbs of Beirut. We went to a park were people are coming in and being directed to places they can stay longer. People are mostly sleeping in schools. Some were opened on the initiative of their staff immediately, but it took the government until today to open them all.
“On top of that, people don't necessarily want to go to the schools which are pretty spartan and where they are stuck in a pretty small space with their kids. We then
went to one of the schools where there are about 20 families staying and spoke to some people. The government emergency department hadn't delivered food since yesterday. The only medical help is coming from volunteers, and that's minimal.
“In the areas we've been the volunteers are being coordinated by the Leftist Assembly for Change, NGOs including Helem (a gay and lesbian rights group), and other parties. We hear the groups around the Lebanese Communist Party are handling things further east, and Hezbollah further south. The main government parties are mainly posing for the cameras - it seems like as far as they are concerned it's not really their people who are suffering.”
'Our neighbours called out to each other, detailing which buildings were still standing'
16 July 2006
Sonya Knox, UN worker, Beirut
My neighbourhood, near the American University of Beirut in west Beirut and therefore traditionally a safe place during times of crisis, is filling up with refugees. First they came from the Dahieh, Beirut’s Shia Muslim southern suburbs and one of Israel’s main targets. They came with their TVs and spare mattresses, moving in with friends or family, and into the spare apartments lent out by absent owners.
The parking situation here, typically a source of much drama, has luckily eased because so many residents here have left for their villages. “It’s always like this,” a neighbour tells me, a suitcase in each hand. “Israel bombs. We move out, they move in…” When Israel’s initial barrage began on the Dahieh, our new neighbours called out to each other from the balconies, detailing which streets were hit, which buildings were still standing. Not all of their old neighbours got out in time.
A second wave of refugees recently arrived, from the South. They came with cars filled to bursting, with large, extended families. I tried to buy small-sized bread from the local bakery, but they’ve stopped baking it. “No one’s going to buy it,” I was told. A friend recently told me about his family in South Lebanon. Before the bombing had intensified, five households nominally related had gathered together. “There’s easily 50 children under one roof,” he said, “all under 10 years old.” “Don’t worry,” another friend said, “this is how the next generation of resistance fighters gets trained.”
Lebanon has experienced its most intense night of bombardment so far
15 July 2006
Christian Henderson, a Scottish journalist based in Beirut
Since midnight on Saturday there have been scores of powerful explosions in the southern suburbs. Hizbollah’s Al-Manar TV station building has been seriously damaged, but the station has continued to broadcast. In the southern Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik area a number of civilian buildings have been hit. Many refugees from the southern suburbs and the south Lebanon have moved to schools in Beirut. Many of them are short of food and blankets.
Infrastructure across the country has been hit. The Jiyeh power station has been hit. Masnaa border crossing to Syria has been hit. A Lebanese army base in the northern city of Batroun was attacked last night. The port in the Christian area of Jounieh was attacked. The grain silos at Beirut port were reportedly attacked. The Beirut lighthouse has been destroyed.
There are some roads open to Syria the cost of a taxi to Damascus from Beirut is reportedly $1000. The journey back is $500.
Israel has dropped various propaganda leaflets on Beirut.
The Israeli attacks on Lebanon are now extending to all parts of the country. As well as the continuous attacks on the south and the southern suburbs of Beirut the strikes have now spread to central Beirut, north and east Lebanon. Over 100 Lebanese have been killed and the country is almost completely cut of from the outside world as Israeli bombing has cut main roads. The siege on Lebanon looks set to continue.
Israel re-enters Lebanese politics
15 July 2006
Jim Quilty, a Canadian journalist based in Beirut
Over the last couple of days Israel has particularly punished the people of south Lebanon and Beirut's southern suburbs, including the airport. Today it's broadened the focus of its attacks to include Beirut port, Jounieh port (in the Christian area north of Beirut), the summer resort of Broummana, the port in the northern city of Tripoli, and various other infrastructure and Lebanese military targets.
So far we reckon they've hit the Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik more than ten times. The Israelis say Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah secretary-general, is hidden in a tunnel beneath the base that they have so incessantly bombed. Absurd as this claim is, the invocation of Saddam Hussein - America's previous public enemy number one, who was also said to have been found hiding in a tunnel - is all too transparent.
On Friday night Hizbollah severely damaged an Israeli warship - sending four sailors into the abyss. It seems they did this with an unmanned drone usually used for surveillance but in this case packed with high explosives. Early Saturday, the Israeli military command offered a corrective, claiming that the weapon had been an Iranian-made missile. invoking Washington's current public enemy number - Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - one is equally transparent.
Such transparency is admirable, since it underlines the fact that what Lebanon is suffering at present is not so much an act of war as an effort to enforce US foreign policy by proxy.
For all the destruction that has been rained down on the major infrastructure, the strikes - at least the strikes that haven't targeted Hizbollah supporters - are remarkable for their relative reserve.
A case in point is the sparkling new bridge just east of Beirut - former prime minister Rafiq Hariri's contribution to expediting the drive from Beirut to the Syrian capital Damascus - which has been disabled [a couple of holes got punched in it] but it hasn't been brought down the way that it might have been.
The Israelis are reining themselves in because they don't want to destroy this country, they just want to help Washington and Lebanon's 14 March government disarm Hizbollah. UN Security Council resolution 1559 was the appropriate means to send Syria's occupying army packing, but it's too blunt an instrument to disarm a homegrown force like Hizbollah. The Hiwar al-Watani - the 14 March government's efforts to tame Hizbollah through negotiation - simply verifies how ineffectual the instrument is.
The prevailing discourse amongst approximately half of Lebanon's population is that Hizbollah is responsible for this attack, so it's pretty clear that the object of this siege is to further alienate Lebanese from Hizbollah.
The slow strangulation of Beirut - as the power plants run out of fuel and houses go dark, as the shops shut for want of goods - is Israel's way of arousing domestic hostility against Hizbollah, in embedding Israeli-US policy interests within the Lebanese public.
“The resistance”, as Hizbollah terms itself, has done a grave disservice to the well being of the people of this country by launching this attack at this time. The resistance, however, is a legitimate expression of the frustrations of the most marginalised segment of Lebanese society - which happens to be Shia Muslim.
Hizbollah may instrumentalise the alienation of their constituency, but it speaks to their frustrated hopes and prevailing fears more utterly than the neo-liberal vision proposed by this government.
The plaintive cries from the hoteliers of Beirut that Hizbollah has destroyed what was shaping up to be a bumper tourism season has utterly no resonance among the poor of Beirut's southern suburbs.
Washington, that self-proclaimed doyen of democratic change in the Middle East, has allowed - perhaps requested - that Israel punish Hizbollah's supporters for choosing to support the resistance. It precisely replicates the manner in which Washington and Tel Aviv are punishing the Palestinians for voting for Hamas in the last Palestinian elections.
It is punishing the rest of Lebanon to expedite efforts to neuter the resistance. This business has nothing to do with two Israeli prisoners of war held by Hizbollah.
Appeal from the left:
Call for Action Against Israel's War on the Palestine and Lebanon
The Israeli war machine continues with its war for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and Lebanon. Attacks against civilian targets are continuing, resulting in scores of dead and wounded in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon, with the vocal and tacit support of the international community. For the past three days, attacks on Lebanon resulted in the destruction of major civilian roads cutting-off whole areas and hindering relief efforts.
Whole families are being trapped under rubble in South Lebanon. The southern suburbs of Beirut, one of the most densely populated and poor neighbourhoods in the country, are currently witnessing intensive bombardment with the majority of civilians trapped due to the bombing of bridges and roads. Just as in Gaza, Israel is attempting to ethnically cleanse a population under the pretext of replying to the legitimate acts of the resistance.
The issue for us is clear. It is the presence of a fascist and racist regime in Israel. US imperialism, its allies and military power in Israel, proves that the issue has nothing to do with democracy or freedom. Their democracy is nothing but murder, destruction of houses, bombardment of electrical and fuel installations, and the indiscriminate targeting of children. The Israeli regime has indicated that they will not stop. In these days, there is no space for compromise. It is either resistance or collaboration.
The international community is fully responsible for the massacres against the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine. Our reply is a full scale popular resistance against imperialism and its allies in the Arab regimes and the west. In the past several days, a group of organisations in Beirut initiated an open sit-in in the centre of the city to mobilise for actions against Israeli aggression against Gaza and in support for the legitimate acts of the resistance. With the targeting of Lebanon, the sit-in has turned into a meeting point for mobilisation of relief and solidarity actions.
We call on all our friends in the world to act in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Lebanon through demonstrations and rallies outside Israeli and US embassies calling for an immediate and unconditional end of the occupation, the release of all prisoners of war in Israel, and the right of people .
No to Imperialism and Occupation!
No to the Indifference of the 'International Community'!
No to Dictatorships!
Leftist Assembly for Change, ATTAC Lebanon, Ajial Community Center, Lebanese Communist Party Youth, Union of Democratic Youth in Lebanon, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Youth Section), Fatah (Youth Section), Palestinian Cultural Clubs (American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University, Beirut Arab University , Lebanese University), No Frontiers (AUB), Pablo Neruda Group (LAU), Independent Left Group (LAU, Byblos), AUB Women's Rights Club, Helem LGBT
The blog site of the Sanayeh Relief Centre in Beirut carries updates on the situation in Lebanon. Go to sanayehreliefcenter.blogspot.com/