This is Beirut

This is Beirut is designed to give voice to the millions of Lebanese who are suffering while the world sits silently. We are not interested in propagating hatred. We want the world to witness through the eyes of Lebanese citizens the destruction and the suffering that has been brought on in the name of defense. If you have a story, poem or letter to share, please email We will work together to end this violence.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Analysis: A second Qana Massacre?

By Martin Asser
BBC News, Beirut

The southern Lebanese town of Qana is known for two events in
history, and there could soon be a third as news comes in of rising
civilian casualties from an Israeli air strike there.
In realms of biblical narrative, some believe it to be the scene of
Jesus Christ's first miracle, turning water into wine during the
wedding at Cana of Galilee.

In modern times, it was the scene of one of the bloodiest events of
the modern Arab-Israeli conflict, the Israeli shelling of a UN base
sheltering Lebanese civilians 10 years ago.

International shock at those deaths - more than 100, and another 100
injured - led to huge pressure for a ceasefire deal bringing an end
to Israel's last sustained military operation against Hezbollah
militants, codenamed Operation Grapes of Wrath.

The Qana Massacre, as it is known in Lebanon, remains a powerful
symbol for Lebanese people of what they say is Israel's
indiscriminate and disproportionate response to Hezbollah's rocket

'No accident'

Israel still insists the 1996 shelling was an accident and that its
forces had a legitimate militant target - a Hezbollah military unit
that had fired mortars and rockets from near the Qana base.

Then, as now, Israel accused Hezbollah of using the civilian
population as human shields when they launched their attacks.

However, a UN investigation reported in May 1996 that the deaths at
the Qana base were unlikely to have been the result of an accident as
claimed by the Israelis.

The UN report cited the repeated use of airburst shells over the
small UN compound, which sent down a deadly torrent of shrapnel that
caused terrible injuries among the unprotected civilians.

The UN also noted the presence of Israeli helicopters and a drone in
the skies over Qana which must have witnessed the bloodbath.

NOW, history repeats....

"TYRE, Lebanon (CNN) -- Israel said it mistakenly destroyed a four-
story building near a Hezbollah rocket-launching site in Qana,
Lebanon, on Sunday where the Red Cross and Lebanese internal security
sources at the scene said 54 people died, including 19 children."

It was the deadliest attack in 19 days of fighting between Hezbollah militia and Israeli forces, which began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

A Red Cross official said the Qana airstrikes hit a residential building that housed refugees, which Israel said was near Hezbollah rocket launching sites. Officials said they believed at least another 11 children were still under the rubble.

More than 60 bodies have been pulled from the rubble, Lebanese representative to the United Nations Nohad Mahmoud said.

"I saw several bodies of children, women and old men," reported CNN's Ben Wedeman. "Residents were digging with the their bare hands, taking more and more bodies out. Parts of the town were completely bombarded, as if hit by a giant mallet in many places. I was told by one Lebanese army officer that they counted more than 80 individual strikes on the town."


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