Israel escalates aerial bombardment

(17 July 2006) THE Israeli aggression in Lebanon escalated July 16 with increased aerial bombardment. Israel began its attack on Lebanon early morning July 12 under the pretext that Hizbollah had taken two Israeli soldiers hostage. It was not mentioned that those soldiers were part of a covert Israeli military action inside Lebanese territory.

The bombardment began as an attack on the newly rebuilt infrastructure of Lebanon, particularly in the south and in the part of Beirut where Shiite Muslims live known as the Suburb. The residents of this area are mainly refugees from southern Lebanon from the 1982 Israeli invasion.

Lebanon's infrastructure was destroyed during that invasion and occupation. It wasn't until May 2000 that the Lebanese people were victorious in expelling the Israeli occupiers. Since then reconstruction has been underway with Beirut being rebuilt. During the 1982 invasion, known as "Operation Peace for Galilee," Beirut was razed to the ground by two months of daily aerial bombardment. The city was rebuilt at great cost to the country, mainly on high-interest loans from the International Monetary Fund.

Southern Lebanon was particularly devastated. There was no electricity, no reliable water source,few roads and few services. These have been rebuilt and reestablished since 2000. It has only been a few years since southern Lebanon has had steady electricity, although it still isn't available 24 hours a day.

In a matter of days, Israel has destroyed this infrastructure. Israeli ships destroyed the newly rebuilt airport in Beirut. The highway spanning the length of the coast of southern Lebanon, linking it to Beirut and the rest of the country, was also only built a couple of years ago and destroyed on July 12.

On the morning of July 16 Israel began attacking residential areas. Information from CNN and BBC confirmed the destruction of Beirut's Suburb area. Refugees from their homes are staying at surrounding schools, which are closed for the summer. Various villages close to the Lebanese-Palestinian border have also been bombed. Israel has attacked for the first time the northern city of Tyre. There are also reports of Israel using phosphorus bombs which are illegal under international law. If so, this would be the first time Israel has used chemical weapons in Lebanon.

It is reported that 141 Lebanese civilians have been killed and many more injured since the attacks began on July 12. This number includes seven Canadians of Lebanese origin vacationing in Lebanon.

It is not clear at what point Israel will send in ground troops. Many anticipate that this may be the next step after this phase of the aerial campaign. The Lebanese resistance has already begun its self-defence operations. Besides taking down the Israeli naval ship off the coast, reports indicate they took down an Israeli aircraft. They are also bombing military posts in northern Israel. Hizbollah and other resistance organizations such as Amal have called for maximum mobilization of their troops. Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stated July 16 that Israel underestimates the capabilities of the resistance and promised to defend Lebanon by any means necessary.

Meanwhile, leaders at the Group of Eight Summit in St. Petersburg issued a communique blaming the Palestinians and Lebanese for the violence, while saying Israel is "exercising the right to defend itself" and simply saying Israel should "be mindful of the strategic and humanitarian consequences of its actions." This refusal to hold Israel to account gives it the green light to continue and escalate its aggression against Gaza and Lebanon, including a possible ground troop invasion after purging areas of residents. All these possibilities are being examined calmly by the Lebanese resistance, and they are preparing accordingly.

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