By RICARDO ALARCÓN DE QUESADA*
I visited Qana in 2001. It is a small town, similar to others that peek out across the valleys and hills of southern Lebanon.
I remember walking towards a building surrounded by a silent crowd. I could sense, almost feel, their uneasy stares.
I toured what had been a children's shelter up until 1996, when it was totally destroyed by US bombs. The bombs were dropped by the Israeli Air Force, out of made-in-USA aircraft and launched with absolute precision. Nothing was left standing, not a single brick; let alone the United Nations flag that was supposedly protecting the unfortunate inhabitants of the shelter.
They all died. Children, their mothers and the elderly. Blown up into pieces. Broken up, like their tattered clothing, toys and modest household items.
UN officials and employees also died in the attack, without the UN uttering a word of opposition because of the US veto that blocked a UN official condemnation of the barbaric act.
Five years had passed, but no one wanted to forget. I could sense it in those gazes that followed me without saying a word, in those eyes that appeared to be asking for answers in that deep, heart breaking silence of a people that had already suffered too much. No one expected the children, the women or the elderly to return. But they all demanded justice.
What came to Qana, however, was not justice but the unthinkable
On Saturday, July 29, 2006, ten years after that horrible attack, US bombs once again rained down over the town, launched from US airplanes, flown by Israel pilots and fired with absolute precision.
No one doubts the high training and skill of the pilots handling those fine-tuned instruments of death, who, ten years later, returned to the exact same place to repeat the massacres.
Once again, death to the children, women and elderly of Qana, buried once again under the rubble that used to be their shelter.
Their national audience has grown accustomed to accepting, as perfectly natural, that their bombs and airplanes are able to annihilate entire populations in the Third World. It is common to hear of a strike that wiped out dozens of children in a single swat.
But be assured that none of their little, mutilated, charred bodies would be shown on US television. Nothing, please, that could disturb a nice, peaceful weekend.
What was reported on those networks were continuous attempts to justify the monstrosity of these latest attacks. US and Israeli officials and commentators were paraded in front of cameras repeating over and over the same script: in brief, that the Qana massacre was a defensive action by Israel. In southern Lebanon, they repeated, one after the other, that there were Lebanese fighters resisting the Zionist occupation and aggression. Combatants whom Washington and its submissive "media" like to label as "terrorists," a designation that gives them cart blanche to go in and bomb an entire population without the slightest deliberation.
It is interesting that none of these reporters have given any consideration to the consequences that, in theory, this "justification" of infanticide would have. Everyone knows the location of the world's worst terrorists - George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld - but no one would dare justify the bombing of Washington D.C. schools and playgrounds just because these assassins move freely in the area.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has been left paralyzed because of the US' obstinate opposition to any attempt to stop the massacre.
Worldwide indignation is growing and will not stop until the holocaust being waged against the people of Lebanon and Palestine comes to an end. In a weak attempt to silence this international reaction, the Israelis made a profoundly cynical announcement: The Israeli Air Force - that is, the Israeli pilots who fly US aircraft and employ US weapons and explosives to kill - will cease their attacks against southern Lebanon for a period of 48 hours.
Two days without bombing, they say, so that the Lebanese can gather up their dead and bury them. Not one day, but two, because there are so many children, women and elderly that have been killed. They will have to pick up their remains from the still smoking rubble and ashes. And not a single day longer, by the third day, the genocide will continue.
The most revealing aspect of this announcement, however, is that it originated in Washington and not in Tel Aviv. The 48-hour "pause" was announced by the US State Department, which is totally logical considering the aircraft and the bombs are come from the US.
Late Sunday afternoon, someone interrupted George Bush's nap. He was needed. He came out of the White House, mumbled a few silly comments and hurried away. He had to take his plane to Miami, where a well known group was expecting him.
And so as they mourn their dead in Qana, the terrorists in Miami celebrate.
*Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada is Cuba's Vice President and President of its National Assembly.
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