Thursday, August 10, 2006

Only a just settlement of legitimate grievances will end the war

Fr. Shay's columns Archives:

The wanton destruction by Israeli military of the village of Qana in Southern Lebanon where as many as 50 civilians, mostly little children must be condemned and labeled as a war crime. The horrific images of 31 little children dug out of the rubble are heartbreaking. They were sheltering from the Israeli air raids in the basement of a four story building that was totally destroyed by two Israeli missiles.

The credibility of Israel as a righteous nation under the God of Abraham fulfilling their destiny is severely strained. The justification made at the United Nations failed to convince me and millions of others around the world. They call it an accident, they say the Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, killed the women and children but in fact it was Israeli missiles. There is no hard evidence that Hezbollah missiles were being fired from this building. Are the Israelis any better than the terrorists then?

The Israelis say the people were warned and should have fled. But how could they, with out cars or buses. They are poor and frightened people. Dozens of refugee families fleeing the fighting were obliterated in their cars by missiles fired from jets as they drove north to escape the blitz. Their burnt and decaying bodies are left unburied as the Israelis blast anything that moves on the roads. Escape was impossible and now a 48 hour day halt to aerial bombing has been agreed to by the Israelis. Too late for the dead.

It's not the first time either. A hundred civilians were killed in this same village in April 1996 while sheltering at a UN post during an Israeli bombing campaign that year. Even their full scale invasion of Lebanon when Ariel Sharon unleashed the Druze militia to massacre the Palestinians in the refugee camps of Beirut did not wipeout Hezbollah. And they will fail again. In fact, that atrocity inflamed and instigated even more attacks and is one of the roots of this present war.

Last week two UN observers were killed in an UN outpost when Israeli jets bombed that too. It is indeed a savage anger that is fuelling the attack of Israel. They were into Gaza bulldozing houses yet again because of small homemade missiles launched against them by the Palestine resistance group, Hamas, another terrorist organization what was elected as the Palestine government. Is Israeli any better than them?

Even medicine, food and Red Cross supplies could not get through for days to help the victims. Going after Hezbollah does not justify the destruction of the infrastructure of Lebanon and killing women and children. Lebanon's health minister says about 750 people - mainly civilians - have been killed by Israeli action, while the number of Israelis dead is 51, mostly soldiers and 18 of them are civilians. It’s clear that Hezbollah missile attacks are not as destructive as the Israeli satellite guided missiles. Yes the response of Israel is grossly disproportionate and they don't want a cease fire, nor does the United States, Britain and the western dominated UN security council. Kofi Annan's urgent appeal has been turned down.

This attack by Israel is a collective punishment all too well known to the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto when they defied the Nazis. Hundreds were made to suffer torture and death for the resistance and fighting spirit of the few. Israeli’s have every right to defend themselves but that right is not absolute. They have no right to bomb civilians and their homes. Kofi Annan, last a few days ago, said that both side have probably violated international humanitarian law. The Hezbollah call themselves resistance fighters fighting a just cause, the Palestinian cause a war of retribution for what Israel did to the Palestinians driving them by their thousands into Jordan and Lebanon during the six day war of 1967 and taking their houses and lands and occupying the West bank. The Beirut massacres by Sharon that will live in infamy. That is the basic injustice, anger-hatred and desire for revenge that is behind the unceasing attacks of Hezbollah and Hamas. The violence that we see today has it roots in that recent history and that is what must be resolved. But bombs and missiles will not do it. Diplomacy and a just settlement is the only way.

No doubt Hezbollah are using inhabited buildings and garages as cover for their rocket launching vehicles that fire and move on. It is mechanized guerrilla warfare. They must be roundly condemned as cowards and war criminals themselves for using helpless civilians as human shields. All who support them ought to be also held liable for war criminal activity. But Israel has to answer for crimes against humanity too. They should never stoop to the same low level of vicious mindless killing that they deplore in their enemies, it only dehumanizes Israel itself and all it says it stands for.

No comments: