Israel Invades Lebanon;
Ongoing Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Lebanese Civilians;
Hizbullah Rockets Wound 11 in Haifa
Israel invaded Lebanon on Monday, sending ground troops into the south. Israeli leaders say that they do not intend a long-term occupation. But then war is unpredictable.
Israel's government killed another 42 Lebanese civilians in aggressive airstrikes on targets mostly unrelated to Hizbullah on Monday.
Thousands of innocent Lebanese have been forced from their homes by the bombings, especially in the South, and have headed up to Beirut (which the Israelis are also indiscriminately bombing). Some 100,000 Lebanese have fled to Syria, though Israeli bombing of roads and bridges has not made it easy for them to get out. Although, because of widespread Western racism, very few over here care about these displaced persons, they face a desperate situation. Roads have been bombed out, and bridges are gone. Lebanese television reported on numerous villages bombed. Rescue teams attempting to take an injured woman to a better hospital with more supplies were blocked when they found the bridge destroyed.
If the reports coming out of Lebanon can be believed, the Israelis are only sometimes striking known Hizbullah safe houses or facilities or missile emplacements. A lot of their bombardment appears aimed at punishing civilian populations and forcing them north to Beirut. Such an approach would help explain the high number of civilian casualties. That is, there may be an element of ethnic cleansing in Israeli tactics.
The Irish Times reports:
' The civilian toll continued to mount in Lebanon yesterday as Israeli planes struck dozens of targets. Nine civilians, including two children, were killed when they were hit by a missile that struck a bridge in the southern port city of Sidon . In the southern city of Tyre , rescue workers pulled nine more bodies from the civil defence building that was hit on Sunday in an Israeli strike. Close to 200 civilians have been killed in Lebanon since the Israeli offensive began last week, when Hizbullah attacked an Israeli border patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two. Five more soldiers were killed when they gave chase into Lebanon .'
Hizbullah sent rockets on Israel again Monday, with four hitting Haifa, including a strike that collapsed a building and injured 11 persons. Since the outbreak of the fighting last Wednesday, 24 Israelis have been killed, 12 soldiers and 12 civilians.
The elements of an eventual resolution of the current Israeli war on Lebanon are becoming clear in international diplomacy. Italian PM Romano Prodi is already thinking about how to round up 10,000 UN peacekeepers to insert in the Lebanese south as a buffer between the Israeli army and Hizbullah. Russia agrees and is willing to participate. My advice: don't send the blue helmets unless you authorize them to shoot back when attacked.
On the other hand, the Irish Times report above says that Israeli officials reject a UN deployment and insist instead that the Lebanese army must be stationed along the border.
It is probably the Olmert government's hope that this posting will set the Lebanese army against Hizbullah, producing intra-Lebanese fighting that serves Israeli interests.
Israel, however, does not always get its way. We'll see. Peacekeeping is a ways off. The Israelis will fight their war first.