'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, July 15, 2006

UPDATE: Israel Incinerates Villagers in Southern Lebanon/Chavez Gets It Right 

As posted here yesterday, every Israeli airstrike in Lebanon and Gaza accelerates the collapse of Zionism as a legitimate social endeavor.

Now, there are 106 reportedly dead in Lebanon, overwhelmingly civilians, with 17 people killed Saturday by an Israeli air strike on a convoy of people in southern Lebanon trying to flee the violence:

Women and children were among those killed when the convoy was hit. "Bodies litter the road," an eyewitness said.

Reuters now places the number of dead at 20, reporting that Israel attacked the families of fleeing villagers after previously giving them hours to leave:

The child was holding a sandwich when an Israeli missile killed him and 19 other people fleeing their Lebanese border village in a van.

Two little blackened hands could be seen still clutching the bread to the child's chest when U.N. peacekeepers recovered the corpse along with the bodies of some of the others.

Half the passengers were children or teenagers, according to medical sources.

It was the deadliest single strike since Israel launched an air campaign against Lebanon after two of its soldiers were captured by Hizbollah militants on Wednesday.

Relatives gathered at a hospital to identify the dead said they came from two families -- Abdallah and Ghanem -- and were trying to escape their village of Marwaheen.

The families had fled after the Israeli army told residents they had just hours to leave.

Around 100 residents showed up at a nearby base of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) seeking shelter but went home after officials were unable to confirm the warning by Israel, UNFIL spokesman Milos Strugar told Reuters.

Other residents had tried later to leave and were killed in the missile strike, Strugar said, adding Lebanese authorities had asked UNIFIL to help evacuate 120-160 people remaining in Marwaheen. They would be relocated in the morning.

Relatives blamed UNIFIL for the deaths, pelting peacekeepers with stones when they arrived with the bodies after the strike.

"If they had taken people in to begin with then they would never have died," said Mohammed Oqla, who was at the hospital.

Meanwhile, US fundamentalists, and some Jewish organizations, have expressed their belief that Israel may use force in Lebanon without restraint.

Reminscent of his famous condemnation of the invasion of Afghanistan, where he asserted that we were "fighting terror with terror", Chavez, in his own blunt spoken way, has a different perspective:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday that U.S. backing of Israel is responsible for flaming tensions in the Middle East and putting the world on course toward another "Holocaust."

"The fundamental blame falls again on the U.S. empire. It's the empire that armed and supported the abuses of the Israeli elite, which has invaded, abused and defied the United Nations for a long time," Chavez said in a speech during a military act in Caracas.

"I'll seize this opportunity to condemn categorically and fully the aggression that the Israeli elite is carrying out against innocents over there in the Middle East," he said.

Chavez was referring to a new explosion of Mideast violence this week as Israel Air Force war planes began striking Lebanon after Hezbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others Wednesday in a cross-border raid into Israel. In response, Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at northern Israel.

The Venezuelan leader charged that Israel is using excessive force.

"Are we going to bomb cities and tell them that we won't stop bombing until they return the soldier? That's crazy," he said.

"Worse, it's craziness with nuclear bombs. (The Israelis) have their weapons of mass destruction and nobody criticizes them, nobody says anything because the empire is behind them," Chavez said. Blaming the escalation on Washington's undue influence, Chavez said: "The U.S. empire's desire to dominate has no limits and that could take this world to a real Holocaust. May God save us."

In the short term, there are reports that there are plans to evacuate Americans there. I have heard that there are as many as 25,000, and it would be a good idea to move quickly, as the prospect of hostage taking by Lebanese who are rightly angry about US support for these attacks is a serious one. After all, they must have already thought about seizing Americans and placing them at locations where they anticipate Israeli airstrikes. CNN is now reporting that the US embassy in Beirut in planning an emergency evacuation.

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