Blood Wedding in Qana
* This little town is Canaan, scene of the wedding in which Jesus changed water into wine, and the one where Israeli bombardments provoked more than 60 deaths on Sunday, July 30, and where merciless Zionist bombings provoked 106 deaths in 1996
* They are the same planes handed over by the same U.S. governments opposed to the UN Security Council decreeing a cease-fire of the savage attacks in the Lebanon. They are the some of the same pilots that the Canadian government trained in "Exercise Maple Flag" in Cold Lake, Alberta in 2005.
BY ENRIQUE ROMAN -Special for Granma International
QANA is a small, irregular and dusty town in the south of Lebanon, an enclave in the many peaks that make up the landscape of that region, 10 kilometers from the Mediterranean and less than 30 from the border with Israel. It owes its name to Canaan, given to this entire region in biblical times.
Life there would be insignificant and Qana would remain unknown outside of its small environment if it were not for two events that have definitively introduced it into the history of humanity.
The first is attributed to it by tradition: the place where Christ effected his first miracle, by converting water into wine during certain weddings - the Canaan Weddings. The Lebanese government - note that Jesus is a primordial figure for both Christians and Muslims - constructed facilities there for tourists who visit the place. The tourist route borders the slope of a mountain to a cave which, it is said, was part of the site of the festivities.
The cave is small, too small to have served as the scenario of the weddings, and more interesting are the bas reliefs sculptured in the rocks by the first Christians, reproducing scenes of the evangelists. In fact, another town, similarly named Qana, located in Galilee in the north of Israel, disputes the Lebanese one-horse town having been the location of the first Christian miracle.
The second fact has little or nothing to do with ethical Jewish or Christian teachings. The inhabitants of that place appeared to be abandoned by the blessing of Jesus Christ and Jehovah on April 18, 1996, when the Israeli government, then headed by Shimon Peres - who by the greatest irony had received the Nobel Peace prize two years earlier - launched the Grapes of Wrath operation on Lebanon. Former Israeli invasions of that small country were as criminal as inglorious. In 1996, as today, exposing the lives of Israeli soldiers was avoided. The well-endowed Israeli air force took charge of the heavy work, which included the bombing of south Lebanon and Beirut, in addition to the naval and land blockade.
At the end of the day, one sole event, that occurred precisely in Qana, will remain in history as the most bloody memory of this pathetic operation: the merciless bombing of an installation of the UN forces, visible and well characterized, with white walls and large blue letters, with the flag of that international organization and which was being used as a refuge for more than 100 senior citizens, women and children, who believed themselves safe from the savage Israeli aerial aggression.
Today, there is a museum there from which it is difficult to leave without tears on one's face, or at least in ones soul. The photos of the massacre, of the 106 fatalities and the 116 wounded, undefended victims of genocide, are frankly terrifying. The collective graves venerated by visitors and residents are shocking in their harshness. Always close among those that visit the location are the inconsolable families of the victims who approach it to recall what were the worst moments of their lives. I recall the reaction of one of the visitors that I accompanied to that place: Qana, he said, must be visited by all humanity so that all human beings know the incredible limits of human barbarity.
Up until last Sunday. Once again the gods abandoned the inhabitants of Qana. Without any justification whatsoever - in that minuscule town there is nothing even remotely resembling a military objective - the Israeli aviation once again showed no mercy on its inhabitants. In the bloodiest action of this shameless war - that has already reaped the total of 500 civilian deaths in the Lebanon - the bombing of a three-story apartment building added more than 60 deaths to the extensive martyrology of Qana.
Perhaps archaeologists will finally discover that it was not in that Qana, but in the Galilee one, where the first Christian miracle took place. But I do not believe that that possibility is currently the preoccupation of any Lebanese, nor, of course, of any inhabitant of the martyred town. For them and for the history of human shame, Qana will be a symbol of cruelty and barbarity, no less than Auschwitz for example, or the multitudinous crimes of the European colonies and American slavery.
The water converted into blood that is running through Qana today is not the work of any miracle. They are another disastrous chapter, as immune as the others, of Zionist racism, happily exercised by the pilots of some modern aircraft of U.S. manufacture. As is the case today, in 1996 there was no public remorse on the part of Israel or of its principal ally, the United States. Bill Clinton, at that time president of the country, received Shimon Peres one week later. There was not one single comment on the crime. A little later Clinton said something that recalls - not at all suspiciously - what George W. Bush has declared: "I believe that it is imperative that Israel maintains security of its northern border. I believe that the United States must be respectful in the face of such circumstances."
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Red Cross says 'No Hezbollah rockets fired from Qana'
BY DAHR JAMAIL
QANA, Aug 1 (IPS) - RED CROSS workers and residents of Qana, where Israeli bombing killed at least 60 civilians, have told IPS that no Hezbollah rockets were launched from the city before the Israeli air strike. *
The Israeli military has said it bombed the building in which several people had taken shelter, more than half of them children, because the Army had faced rocket fire from Qana. The Israeli military has said that Hezbollah was therefore responsible for the deaths.
"There were no Hezbollah rockets fired from here," 32-year-old Ali Abdel told IPS. "Anyone in this village will tell you this, because it is the truth."
Abdel had taken shelter in a nearby house when the shelter was bombed at 1 am. When the bombings finally let up in the morning, he went back to the bombed shelter to search for relatives.
He found his 70-year-old father and 64-year-old mother both dead inside.
"They bombed it, and afterwards I heard the screams of women, children, and a few men -- they were crying for help. But then one minute after the first bomb, another bomb struck, and after this there was nothing but silence, and the sound of more bombs around the village."
Masen Hashen, a 30-year-old construction worker from Qana who lost several family members in the air strike on the shelter, said there were no Hezbollah rockets fired from his village. "Because if they had done that now, or in the past, all of us would have left. Because we know we would be bombed."
Qana had been a shelter because no rockets were being fired from there, survivors said. "When Hezbollah fires their rockets, everyone runs away because they know an Israeli bombardment will come soon," Abdel said. "That is why everyone stayed in the shelter and nearby homes, because we all thought we'd be all right since there were no Hezbollah fighters in Qana."
Lebanese Red Cross workers in the nearby coastal city of Tyre told IPS that there was no basis for Israeli claims that Hezbollah had launched rockets from Qana.
"We found no evidence of Hezbollah fighters in Qana," Kassem Shaulan, a 28-year-old medic and training manager for the Red Cross in Tyre told IPS at their headquarters. "When we rescue people or recover bodies from villages, we usually see rocket launchers or Hezbollah fighters if they are there, but in Qana I can say that the village was 100 per cent clear of either of those."
Another Red Cross worker, 32-year-old Mohammad Zatar, told IPS that "we can tell when Hezbollah has been firing rockets from certain areas, because all of the people run away, on foot if they have to."
While IPS was interviewing people in Qana at the site of the shelter Monday, Israeli warplanes roared overhead. Vibrations from nearby bombing rattled many buildings. At least three villages in southern Lebanon were attacked in Israeli air strikes Monday.
Following the international outcry over the air strike, Israel declared a 48-hour cessation of air strikes in order to carry out a military probe into the Qana killings.
Despite the false Israeli statement that it was halting its air strikes, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon told Army Radio that the stoppage "does not signify in any way the end to the war."
Israel has rejected mounting international pressure to end the 20-day-old war against Hezbollah. The United Nations has indefinitely postponed a meeting on a new peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon.
While defending the Israeli air strike on the civilians in Qana, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman told the UN Security Council that Qana was "a hub for Hezbollah", and said that Israel had urged villagers to leave.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said in reply to questions in New York Monday that the bombing was "totally, totally its (Hezbollah's) fault."
*Inter Press Service*
(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.
Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches - Visit the Dahr Jamail Iraq website http://dahrjamailiraq.com
Related on the web
Exchange between Israeli and CNN propagandists
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Israel admits no Hezbollah rockets fired from near destroyed building in Qana
Livni: Qana attack led to turning point in support for Israel
By Yoav Stern
Yuval Yoaz and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents
JERUSALEM (21:04 01/08/2006 ) - The deaths of dozens of civilians in an Israel Air Force attack on the southern Lebanese village of Qana marked a significant diplomatic turning point against Israel, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday.
The foreign minister said that following the events in Qana, Israel's scope for political maneuvering had been reduced, as was the amount of European support Israel is receiving for its operation in Lebanese soil.
Livni said this change was exemplified in the "problematic" Russian and French stance towards Israel.
She said that despite the pictures of civilian casualties coming from Qana of it was important not to stray from implementing UN decision 1559.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to establish a state commission of inquiry into the killings at Qana.
As the Israel Air Force continues to investigate the air strike, questions have been raised over military accounts of the incident.
It now appears that the military had no information on rockets launched from the site of the building, or the presence of Hezbollah men at the time.
The Israel Defense Forces had said after the deadly air-strike that many rockets had been launched from Qana. However, it changed its version on Monday.
The site was included in an IAF plan to strike at several buildings in proximity to a previous launching site. Similar strikes were carried out in the past. However, there were no rocket launches from Qana on the day of the strike.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Red Cross workers reported on Monday that 28 bodies, 19 of them children, were removed from the rubble.
The count is lower than the some 60 bodies reported by news agencies, quoting Lebanese security officials. Survivors say 60 people were in the building at the time of the strike.
Additional bodies are expected to be found in rescue operations.
Elsewhere in southern Lebanon, 49 bodies were removed Monday from the ruins of buildings in ten villages. Medical sources in Lebanon say dozens more are buried in the rubble.
IDF sources said the warning pamphlets the IAF disseminated to residents, calling on them to leave the area, were dropped several days before the strike, and not over the weekend.
The IAF does not have a way to verify whether villages have been vacated, or whether civilians remain hidden in bomb-shelters in locations otherwise believed to have been vacated, the sources said.
Paratroopers who fought in Bint Jbail last week said they noticed civilians hiding in the rubble while the fierce battle with Hezbollah militants was taking place.
The IDF account and those of survivors present contradictory versions of the Qana deaths. The IDF said that there is an unexplained gap of about seven hours between the IAF strike and the first report that the building had collapsed. Residents' accounts say only 10 minutes went by between the strike and the collapse.
The survivors say rescue teams arrived only in the morning, as night conditions made the rescue mission difficult. The Red Cross in Tyre received a call for help only in the morning, explaining their late arrival.
Sami Yazbek, chief of the Tyre department of the Red Cross, said his office received a call only at 7 A.M. The ambulances were further slowed by the bombed roads leading to Qana.
The media first heard of the bombing at 8 A.M. The foreign press quoted Lebanese sources explaining the late announcement, saying the electricity and phones in the village of Qana were almost entirely cut-off by IAF attacks.
An IAF investigation into the bombing is underway.
The IAF admits the village was struck three times between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Two bombs were dropped on the building in the first strike. Channel 10, however, said on Monday that the initial investigation shows the bombs did not immediately explode, and an explosion in the early morning caused the casualties.
The IDF provided no explanation for the second explosion, and it is not clear whether the bomb was moved, or whether Hezbollah ammunition stored in the building caused the explosion.
Civilians continued to leave their homes en masse in southern Lebanon on Monday, taking advantage of the temporary slow-down in the fighting, imposed by the IAF after the Qana attack.
The United Nations and the Red Cross delivered emergency assistance to villages in the south on Monday. The UN also delivered food and medical equipment to Qana residents.
Source: Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/745185.html
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Lebanon calls for ceasefire at Security Council, seeks international probe into Qana attack
BEIRUT (01 Aug 06, 10:27) - LEBANON on Monday demanded that Israel agree an immediate ceasefire as the two nations sparred at a special U.N. Security Council meeting on the crisis. Acting foreign minister Tarek Mitri also sought an international investigation into Israel's bombing of Qana on Sunday which killed more than 60 people, including 35 children.
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, said it was up to Lebanon to act to end attacks on Israel by Hizbullah. Gillerman told the council that Lebanon had become "a hotbed of terrorism in a cesspool of hatred."
Mitri told an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council that the Lebanese government called for an "immediate and comprehensive ceasefire" in the hostilities that started on July 12 after Hizbullah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers.
Reading from a text agreed by the Lebanese cabinet, the minister said there should be a declaration of agreement by the two on topics including an exchange of prisoners between Hizbullah and Israel through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Israeli forces would have to withdraw behind the "blue line" frontier between southern Lebanon and Israel and to allow displaced people to return to their villages.
Mitri said that the Security Council would have to place the Shabaa Farms area that Israel occupies under UN jurisdiction, while a long term settlement to the claim is organized.
He demanded that Israel hand over maps of its landmines in southern Lebanon to the United Nations.
In return the Lebanese government would seek to extend its authority over all the country "through its own legitimate armed forces such that there will be no weapons or authority other than that of the Lebanese state."
A reinforced international force with a strong U.N. mandate would deploy in southern Lebanon to help humanitarian work and enforce Lebanese authority, he said.
"We owe our people an honorable way out of this war," Mitri told the meeting. "In the name of Lebanon I appeal to you all to put an end to this human tragedy."
In his reply, Gillerman said that Israel "has been repeatedly forced to act, not against Lebanon, but against the forces and the monstrosity which Lebanon has allowed itself to be taken hostage by."
"Lebanon has repeatedly, sadly and tragically been taken over time after time," said the Israeli envoy, "by tyrants in the north, namely Syria, who still regard Lebanon as southern Syria."
He said Lebanon has "allowed itself to be taken hostage by terrorists of the worst kind. The PLO in the 1980s, the Hizbullah in the 1990s."
Gillerman added: "Isn't it time that Lebanon took its fate into its own hands rather than keep crying out to the Security Council and to the international community."
He said Israeli forces had reentered Lebanon to defend itself against "a blatant act of war" by Hizbullah by kidnapping the soldiers and launching rocket attacks in Israel.
Mitri said he had also gone to the Security Council "to ask for the setting in motion of an international investigation with regard of the crime of Qana -- Qana the second where a massacre took place in 1996," he said referring to a previous killing of civilians during an Israeli military operation.
He called Sunday's bombing of a house where civilians had taken refuge "a blatant violation of international law." (AFP)
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Cuban parliament weeps for Qana
HAVANA (1 AUGUST 2006) Prensa Latina - CUBAN Parliament Speaker Ricardo Alarcon condemned Tuesday the Israeli massacre in the Lebanese town of Qana, while lamented the international paralysis, calling US President George W. Bush a terrorist.
"Once more the death of children, women and elderly people from Qana. What have been their refugees are again beneath the rubble," said Alarcon in an article published today by Granma newspaper.
The parliamentary leader lashed at US and western TV channels that, despite showing a few dramatic images of the massacre, use slanted information not to hurt sensibility of certain audiences.
"Everybody knows where the worst terrorists are, the well-known are George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and Ronald Rumsfeld, but nothing would justify bombing Washington DC, only because they prowl there," indicated the text.
The official also regrets the UN Security Council's paralysis in stopping this criminal action, with its hands tied by Washington's stubborn opposition to stop this massacre.
But worldwide indignation grows and it won't stop until the end of the holocaust, stated Alarcon.
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Greek Orthodox Archbishopric in Havana Condemns Massacre
The representative of the Greek Orthodox Church for Cuba and the Caribbean issued a statement condemning the aggression and massacre in Lebanon and Palestine and the frustration over the "powerlessness of the international community and its organizations to put an end to the violence and aggression."
The office, located in Havana, makes "a call to those who hold the destiny of the world in their hands due to their political, economic and military power, not to delay in asking and demanding a cease fire returning the right to live to those brothers and sisters."
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CAF calls for an emergency meeting of Parliament to demand an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East
TORONTO (30 July 2006) - The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) is issuing an urgent call to all political parties, unions, churches and civil society organizations to pressure the Harper government to convene an emergency meeting of Parliament to demand an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and an end to Israel's bombing of Lebanon and Palestine.
More than 54 civilians, at least 34 of them children, have been killed in a town in south Lebanon in the deadliest Israeli strike of the conflict so far. Displaced families had been sheltering in the basement of a house in Qana, which was crushed after a direct hit.
Qana was the site of an Israeli bombing of a UN base in 1996 that killed more than 100 people sheltering there during Israel's "Grapes of Wrath" offensive, which was also aimed at destroying Hezbollah.
Lebanon's prime minister denounced "Israeli war criminals" and cancelled talks with the US secretary of state. The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting. Secretary General Kofi Annan urged members to strongly condemn the Qana attack and to put aside differences to call for an immediate ceasefire. Several countries have condemned the attack and renewed their calls for an immediate ceasefire - opposed by Israel, the US and UK.
Stephen Harper has emboldened Israel to commit this heinous crime against civilians by describing Israel's actions as a "measured response"; by stating it is "too early" to call for a ceasefire; and by refusing to condemn Israel when it killed eight Canadian civilians and a Canadian UN peacekeeper in Lebanon.
CAF demands that Harper strongly condemn this massacre of civilians and to issue a call for an immediate ceasefire. His failure to do so would be perceived by Canadians as complicity in Israel's war crimes in Lebanon and Palestine.
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Spain slams Israel for Qana bloodbath
MADRID (Jul 31) Prensa Latina - THE Spanish government and main political parties put their differences aside and joined to condemn the Israeli bombing of a refuge in the Lebanese city of Qana, where 57 civilians were killed, mostly children and women.
Spain promptly responded to the new Israeli attack and expressed its sorrow to the Lebanese government and relatives of the victims.
In addition, Spain called once again for an immediate cease-fire.
A few hours after starting a tour of Latin American, the vice president of the Spanish government Mar?a Teresa Fern?ndez de la Vega noted that the deaths of more civilians cannot be tolerated. She equally condemned an escalation of violence that will unleash more hate, resentment, and less security in the region.
The general coordinator of United Left Party, Gaspar Llamazares, made strong statements when he urged the Spanish government, the European Union and the UN to sanction Israel for violating the human rights agreed at the Geneva Convention.
But a surprise was given by the opposition and conservative Popular Party, which until Sunday justified the Tel Aviv aggression with the argument that Israel had the right to defend itself.
For the first time and amid the political confrontation caused by the Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Popular Party launched a harsh attack on Israel, when its spokesman Gustavo de Aristegui condemned the Israeli killing of Lebanese civilians in Qana City, called for a cease-fire and UN conflict resolution.
Anti-war organizations also gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in Madrid to protest against Tel Aviv's bombings in Lebanon and Palestine, and claim the end of the Israeli hostilities.
Israel began its aggression of Lebanon on July 12, killing hundreds among the civil population.
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UNICEF slams Israeli attack on Qana
MADRID (Jul 31) Prensa Latina - THE United Nations Children's Fund condemned the Israeli air strikes against the Lebanese city of Qana, where 57 civilians were killed, mostly children, and called for an end to hostilities.
In a report published in the Spanish capital, UNICEF denounced that Tel Aviv's air raids on a Qana refuge, saying it showed once more that children pay the price of wars.
Due to this, stressed the report, UNICEF strongly condemns attacks against the civil population, mainly those in which children are the main target.
The text also calls for a response to the cease-fire request made by UN secretary general Kofi Annan, and demands free and secure access for humanitarian operations.
UNICEF is giving aid to Lebanese children, who represent half of the 800,000 displaced in Lebanon and refugees who have entered in Syria.
The international organization announced on Monday that an airplane coming from Jordan will arrive in Lebanon, carrying the second humanitarian aid shipment, including water, food and medicine.
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Egyptian press: Olmert Lebanon's new 'butcher'
BEIRUT (31 Jul 06, 11:41 ) - EGYPT's PRESS lashed out at Israel Monday over the deadly air strike on Qana, carrying gruesome pictures of dead children and charging that "the butcher" Ariel Sharon had found a worthy heir in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
"Massacre in Qana," "Carnage in Lebanon," "Children murdered," screamed two-inch blood-red headlines, as the country's dailies unleashed a torrent of condemnation following Sunday's bombardment on the southern Lebanese village of Qana that killed 60 people, more than half of them children.
One picture of the bodies of two little girls strapped to the same stretcher as medics retrieve them from the rubble was on nearly all the front pages in Egypt, one of only two countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel.
"The Israeli butchers have added a new line to their bloody record. This dark chapter resembles the one that took place ten years ago. The place is the same... the butchers are the same and the victims again are innocent children and women," Al-Ahram wrote.
The top-selling state-owned daily was referring to another Israeli operation against Lebanon that left 105 people dead in Qana in April 1996.
"Ehud Olmert is kicking off his career with a massacre that makes him a criminal of the same category as Begin, Shamir and Sharon," Al-Ahram editorialist Mohammed Ali Ibrahim added.
Sharon's responsibility in the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut during Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon earned the former Israeli premier -- in a coma since January -- his "butcher" nickname.
Opposition newspapers accused Arab regimes of remaining arms-folded since the start of Israel's deadly offensive on July 12, but other editorialists argued the barrage of international condemnation provoked by the Qana raid could turn the tide against Israel.
"If the international community reacts and the Arabs wake up from their apathy, the second Qana carnage could mark the beginning of the end of the campaign of mass murder perpetrated by Israel in Lebanon," Al-Ahram's Fathi Mahmoud said.(AFP)
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Arab League blames US for deaths in Lebanon and Palestine
CAIRO.- The United States should be held responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians during the Israeli offensive against the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, said an official of the Arab League at its headquarters in Cairo, reported Xinhua.
The Israeli attack on the village of Qana in southern Lebanon coincided Sunday with the presence of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Israel, noted Mohamed Sobeih, Arab League deputy general secretary for Palestinian Affairs.
"The United States is giving its blessing to the continual Israeli aggressions against Palestine," Sobeih said.
The Arab League official accused Western countries of adopting a policy of "Silence of the Innocent" and described them as "the main partners of the non-humanitarian wars."
Earlier on Sunday, Arab League General Secretary Amr Moussa said the 22-member organization energetically condemns the "barbaric" Israeli attack against Qana and Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Nabih Berri, speaker of the Lebanese parliament, said that the conditions for exchanging the two Israeli soldiers captured by the Hezbollah militia "changed" after the Israeli bombing of Qana and the crime committed against the children.
A total of 523 Lebanese, the vast majority civilians, have been reported dead in the Israeli attacks since July 12. Fifty-one Israelis have also died.
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UN building stormed amid Lebanon rage over Qana
Salim Yassine and Ramzi Haidar
Sun Jul 30, 9:11 AM ET
BEIRUT (AFP) - Angry Lebanese protestors have stormed the building of the
United Nations in Beirut, smashing glass doors and hacking at the furniture in rage at Israel's deadly bombing of homes in Qana.
After the violent protest at UN headquarters, thousands of people -- some in tears and others shouting angry slogans -- converged from both Christian and Muslim areas of the capital on Riad Solh Square where the building is located.
After hearing news of the carnage in Qana which killed 51 people, including 25 children, a group of protestors attacked and briefly occupied the UN House in downtown Beirut where they smashed windows, burned curtains and destroyed furniture.
UN spokesman Khaled Mansour told AFP that about 100 UN staff in the building had sought refuge in an underground basement, and that security personnel were trying to extinguish a fire on the second floor.
"We are also angry by the bombardments on civilians, and we strongly condemn that, but we should not be targeted," Mansour said.
A small group of protestors burned an American flag while shouting: "Death to America."
"Feltman out now!" demonstrators also shouted, referring to US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman.
"Thank you America for your smart bombs, on behalf of our slain children," read one banner carried by the protestors, most of whom were also raising Lebanese flags.
Activists also waved flags of several parties, including the yellow standard of Hezbollah.
"Dear (Hassan) Nasrallah, strike Tel Aviv," they chanted, addressing the head of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah which has met Israeli attacks with fierce resistance for the past 19 days, firing rockets into northern Israel.
A group of youths hoisted the Hezbollah flag on one of the poles outside the building. Inside, demonstrators smashed the electronic announcement screen positioned at the entrance of the UN premises.
More than 500 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by Israeli bombardments since the Jewish state launched a massive offensive on Lebanon after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers at the borders on July 12 in an attempt to secure an exchange of prisoners.
Qana was also the site of an Israeli bombing of a UN base on April 18, 1996 that killed 105 people who had taken refuge there during Israel's "Grapes of Wrath" offensive -- another operation aimed at wiping out Hezbollah.
The demonstration in central Beirut only calmed down after Hezbollah militants forced protestors to leave the UN House and Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri appealed to them to disperse and not attack any building.
"I call on my people and brothers and on the youngsters demonstrating outside the ESCWA (UN building) to desist from any demonstration and any attack on any building," he said on the Arab television channel Al-Jazeera.
He urged them "to return from where they came and to give the whole world a chance to stand by us without any distortion (of Lebanon's image)".
Geir Pedersen, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's representative in Lebanon, said he was "deeply shocked and saddened by the killing of tens of Lebanese civilians, including many children in Qana, south Lebanon, and calls for immediate ceasefire and investigation," a statement said.
Lebanese protesters smash a window with an iron bar at the United Nations headquarters during a demonstration in Beirut. Angry Lebanese protestors have stormed the building of the United Nations in Beirut, smashing glass doors and hacking at the furniture in rage at Israel's deadly bombing of homes in Qana.(AFP/Ramzi Haidar)
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57 Lebanese civilians killed in Israeli aerial attack on shelter
BEIRUT (PL).-ISRAELI PLANES bombed a Lebanese civilian shelter this Sunday in the town of Qana, killing 57 of the 63 people inside, including 25 children, according to Health Minister Mohamed Jalife.
The aviation attacked the locality for two hours under the pretext that members of the Hizbollah (Party of God) were hiding there and destroyed various buildings and the basement where mostly women and children were sleeping during the night.
National TV footage showed the inert bodies of various children, still wearing their nightclothes, while rescue personal were pulling away rubble in search of more bodies and injured people.
With these fatalities the current toll is 750 dead and more than 2,000 wounded by the intense Israeli bombardments of the Lebanese people, since the aggressive escalation began July 12 under the pretext of liberating two of its soldiers.
That total "is not definite because there are still victims under the rubble in Qana and other localities," Jalife affirmed.
He noted that in recent hours the aggression has intensified in the south given the failure of the Israeli army in land battles.
The Islamic guerrillas are resisting the intense Israeli artillery and aerial fire, which has obliged the forces to modify their ground tactics and continue with indiscriminate bombings, witnesses said.
To date negotiations to achieve a ceasefire have been frustrated by the complicity, open or otherwise, of the main Western powers, incapable as yet of finding an effective formula.
Meanwhile, the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Lebanon was discounted by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who described what happened in Qana as "a sad day" and stated that the only way out "was an immediate ceasefire."
On Saturday George W. Bush announced the possible trip by the official, who to date has refused to seek a ceasefire, thus demonstrating the Washington government's tradition support for Tel Aviv.
Condemnation of the Israeli bombardment of Qana has come from various European and Arab countries, the UN and the Vatican City, Brazil and Venezuela.
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Horrendous Israeli massacre in Lebanese village
UNITED NATIONS.- More than 60 dead bodies, including 37 children, were found in the village of Qana, Lebanon, resulting from an Israeli air attack on Sunday. More victims are being discovered as the search continues.
According to ANSA news service, Lebanese parliament member Bahia Hariri confirmed that among the dead were 15 children with physical and mental problems.
Lebanon is "mourning its martyrs" and "with one united voice is asking for a cease fire," said Nouhad Mahmoud, a foreign relations official at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, quoted by Reuters.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the UN building in downtown Beirut Sunday to denounce the Israeli bombing of Qana and demand the expulsion of US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman.
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US media alibis for Qana massacre
By David Walsh, WSWS
The basic modus operandi of the US media has been well established over the past two-and-a-half weeks. The war cannot be mentioned without claiming that Hezbollah, always referred to as a terrorist organization, ignited the Israeli onslaught by seizing two soldiers.
Journalists worthy of the name have a responsibility to probe beneath the official version of events, to question the government's claims, to hint at possibilities that the powers-that-be would prefer not be discussed. In the present conflict that would mean at least raising the possibility that the US and Israel have definite geopolitical ambitions.
The American media investigates none of this. It simply repeats the trite formulae of the Bush administration (a "sustainable ceasefire," a "robust" mandate to disarm Hezbollah, and the deployment of an equally "robust" international peacekeeping force, etc.) ad infinitum.
The efforts of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has given Israel the green light to carry out its attacks, are inevitably referred to as a "peacekeeping mission." Israel's wanton violence is described as "self-defense."
In the morning following the massacre at Qana, the US media scrambled to provide explanations for the horrible event. In the first place, American television refused to show images of the mangled, bloody bodies that television audiences in the rest of the world were seeing. "We cannot show this," they said.
Reports of the deaths of dozens of women and children were immediately followed by "Israeli officials say ...," "the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) points out ...," "the government in Tel Aviv explains that ..."
A mass murder is committed, and the US media rushes first to interview the murderer and get his side of the story.
The Israelis obligingly made a series of officials available for the American networks to interview. Every news program routinely begins and ends with the Israeli positions. Arab and Lebanese voices are squeezed in here and there, the more respectable and 'pro-Western' the better, without the slightest concern for a balanced presentation of a complex political situation, much less its historical background.
In this, the American media simply deludes itself and the public. The outrage felt for the US government and military in the Middle East and throughout much of the world is reaching a boiling point.
A few examples of the media coverage Sunday will suffice. This is from the New York Times: "Israel said the Qana strike was aimed at Hezbollah fighters firing rockets into Israel from the area, but an explosion caused a residential apartment building to collapse, crushing Lebanese civilians who were spending the night in the basement, where they believed they were safe. The Israelis raised the possibility that munitions stored in the building blew up hours after the air strike, destroying the building."
The Washington Post presentation is more typical: "Israeli warplanes blasted a group of buildings in this southern Lebanese village Sunday, killing dozens of people, most of them women and children, according to Lebanese officials. The Israeli military said the air strike was aimed at destroying Hezbollah rocket launchers nearby and that civilians were not being targeted."
With some 800 Lebanese dead since the beginning of the war, 90 percent of them civilians, a semi-honest media would not leave such claims unchallenged. If Israel, with its surgically precise missiles and bombs, continues to kill civilians in large numbers, perhaps one should draw the logical conclusion that their strikes are, in fact, hitting their targets.
The unsubstantiated claim that Hezbollah fighters were launching missiles from the immediate vicinity of the building that collapsed is simply taken as good coin by the American media. Why should the Israeli government and its military be given the benefit of the doubt? Fox News, the right-wing voice of the Murdoch interests, was most forthright in passing off IDF claims as fact, but none of the networks or major newspapers cast any serious doubt on the Israeli military's justifications.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert opened his program, on the morning after the bloodiest episode in the 19 days of the war, with Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman. Russert provided Gillerman a platform for the defense of Israel's actions. He did not begin by expressing his horror at the massacre, but by politely asking as to whether Israel would now agree to a ceasefire.
Gillerman responded in the predictable, cold-blooded manner. "First of all, Tim, this is a horrible, devastating, bloody Sunday, and it's a horrible morning, and we grieve the deaths of those civilians and children. But it is very, very important to stress that they may have been hit by an Israeli bomb, but they are victims of the Hezbollah. If Hezbollah wasn't there, this would never have happened.
"And I wouldn't put it beyond that vicious, brutal, cynical terrorist organization to have held those people there against their will after we'd repeatedly asked them to leave, so that they would actually be used as human shields, and maybe even, as farfetched as this may sound, for this to happen, because this serves nobody's purpose, except Hezbollah and Iran."
'The dead made us do it!' Russert made no comment in response to this filthy allegation.
On CNN's early morning program, anchors Tony Harris and Betty Nguyen took pains to put a good face on the Israeli actions. After reporting the facts of the attack, Harris continued: "Israel says the site was used by Hezbollah to launch rockets into Israel. An Israeli spokesman called the area a war zone and said Lebanese civilians were warned to leave. Even so, the Israeli defense minister has ordered an investigation."
Over images of the bombing, Nguyen commented, "It is just hard to stomach this morning. We've seen the protests as well. But, on the flip side, Israel says that it has sent out warnings. It dropped flyers. It also made a radio announcement telling people to get out of the area."
Harris then introduced Jacob Dalal, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Force, who was interviewed from Jerusalem. Harris was immensely sympathetic to the difficult situation in which the IDF finds itself: "Give us some insight," he said to Dalal, "if you would, help us understand the IDF's strategic approach to this conflict right now. On the one hand, you clearly are trying to wipe out Hezbollah, which is your stated objective, but on the other hand, you have to balance that against the possibility of killing civilians. So help us understand strategically how you're approaching this conflict right now."
To this friendly query, Dalal replied, "That's an excellent question and that indeed is the dilemma. That's the dilemma of the war on terror. How, on the one hand, you attack terrorists and terrorist targets, and on the other hand, you spare civilian lives, because terrorists operate from within the civilian environment. Now, this balancing act is a very difficult balancing act for any army, and we're trying to do the best we can."
The Israeli claim, that it acts with concern for Lebanese civilians and is engaged in this so-called balancing act, Harris takes as given and makes the starting point for a friendly chat with a representative of the Israeli military.
Advertisement for the Israeli state
CNN's "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer (an Israeli, and former member of the Israeli government press office - editor) on Sunday was little more than an unpaid advertisement for the Israeli state and its operations. Speaking to one correspondent on the ground in Lebanon, Blitzer made his position in regard to Qana - the culpability of the civilians themselves - quite clear: "The Israelis say they gave plenty of warning to all the individuals living there, dropping leaflets. They showed us some of those leaflets that they say they dropped. Among other things, it said to civilians in villages located south of the Litani River, 'Because of the terrorist acts that have been executed against the Israeli state from inside your villages and houses, the IDF had to react immediately against these actions, even inside your own villages.'"
Blitzer had filmed segments for his "Late Edition" program intended to underscore the hardships endured by Israelis during the current fighting. A lesser man might have thought that images of young children killed by Israeli bombs had made his footage somewhat unseemly, but Blitzer went right ahead.
Beginning his special report near Haifa, at an Israeli air force base, Blitzer took a tour by automobile through the port city, commenting, that the ride was "bleak-not many cars on the streets; not many people either. As I take a look at this port and this Haifa bay, it's pretty depressing to see there aren't many ships at all docked at Haifa right now."
Later in the program, Blitzer showed a ride he took aboard a US Blackhawk helicopter with Israeli air force Brigadier General Ido Nehushtan. They flew north along Israel's Mediterranean coastline. Blitzer commented: "Haifa, a city of some 300,000 under normal circumstances, is drained. ... The huge port area, usually full of cargo ships from around the world, is largely empty. So are the beautiful Mediterranean beaches nearby."
Lebanon bleeds from every pore. But near Haifa "the beautiful beaches are empty"!
Blitzer went on to conduct an interview with Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a know-nothing ignoramus, and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, an ardent pro-Zionist. McConnell could not bring himself to express regret over the massacre in Qana, remarking instead, "Unfortunately, Hezbollah uses civilians as shields. The Israelis don't do that."
Schumer, asked how Bush and Rice were doing in the Middle East crisis, replied, "Well, I have no criticism of the president on this issue because I think he is doing the right thing." This is the opposition party in the US.
A Syrian cabinet minister, Bouthaina Shaaban, was met with the usual American media arrogance. Blitzer's first question: "Is Syria ready to stop facilitating weapons shipments to Hezbollah, as alleged by the US and Israeli governments as well as other governments?" Blitzer failed to note that the word 'alleged' undermined the premise of his question. How can someone stop doing something you haven't proved they are doing in the first place?
At one point, Shaaban made the following point, "Remember, Nazi Germany was claiming that it was fighting terrorism. And then the whole world had to stop that. We are facing something very similar to what happened as a result of the actions of Nazi Germany against civilians."
Blitzer ignored this. His program ended with a special segment revealing that Hezbollah's rockets weren't "the only thing posing a real danger. In this exclusive report I prepared earlier in the week, I found out that there are also some new threats from the Mediterranean Sea" including exploding jet skis and life rafts. Meanwhile the broken bodies of women and children continued to be discovered in the rubble in Qana.
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