THE MADNESS OF WAR Hizballah and Israel
The pain! I can’t bear the pain!
My heart! My heart is beating wildly!
I can’t keep quiet; I hear the trumpets and the shouts of battle.
One disaster follows another; the whole country is left in ruins.
Suddenly our tents are destroyed; their curtains are torn to pieces.
How long must I see the battle raging and hear the blasts of trumpets?
The LORD says, “My people are stupid; they don’t know me.
They are like foolish children; they have no understanding.
They are experts at doing what is evil, but failures at doing what is good.”
(Jeremiah 4:19-23 TEV)
The words of the prophet Jeremiah are our words as we feel the pain and the tragedy in our region. Nothing justifies the extent of the destruction and the number of human beings that have been killed, wounded, and displaced. It is insane and mad. After Israel’s forced termination of its 22 year occupation of South Lebanon in the year 2000, and having defied U.N. Resolution 425 for as many years, it still held Lebanese prisoners and maps of land mines in violation of mutual agreements. In addition, Israel continuously violates Lebanese airspace against international law.
On July 12, 2006, Hizballah crossed the border into Israel, killed 8 Israeli soldiers and took two captive, demanding to exchange them with Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. Israel’s retaliation came with a vengeance. Since July 12, the Israeli army has killed over 750 Lebanese and wounded thousands, the majority of casualties being civilians.
Initially, it was believed that Israel’s invasion of Lebanon was aimed at the release of the two Israeli soldiers, but the rate and extent of the devastation of Lebanon soon made it clear that Israel’s goals reached far beyond a simple rescue mission. The kidnapping of the soldiers became only the excuse to start massive air attacks and infrastructural destruction – three airports bombed; 62 bridges destroyed; three dams and ports hit; Tens of thousands of homes damaged and approximately a million Lebanese displaced from their homes. Countries around the world have been shocked by the excessive use of Israeli power. Israel seemed to be bombing the Lebanese and the Palestinians in Gaza into total submission, capitulation, and resignation pushing their infrastructure decades back. During the first 20 days of war, a number of massacres were committed by the Israeli army against civilians. The worst, however, has been the massacre in the village of Qana in the south of Lebanon on July 30th. This is the second time within a decade that a brutal massacre is carried out by the Israeli army against innocent civilians in Qana. Over 60 people were killed more than half of them were children. No justification whatsoever is acceptable. It is a crime against humanity -- thanks to America’s “smart bombs” and Israel’s “most moral army in the world.” This carnage will go down in history as one of the most shameful crimes in this conflict. The pictures from Qana and the rest of Lebanon bring shame to Rome’s ministerial meeting on July 26, 2006. Had the ministers insisted on a ceasefire as was proposed, and not complied with the US Secretary of State, the children of Qana and their mothers would be alive today.
As Israel was bombing Lebanon, Hizballah fired hundreds of its katyushas into northern Israel sending approximately a million people into shelters, causing considerable material damage, and killing over 50 Israelis, half of them civilians.
All the while, as the eyes of the world turned to Lebanon, Israel continued its killings in Gaza more ferociously. One hundred forty-one people including thirty children were killed in the last three weeks. Seventy-six homes were demolished.
1. In 1948 over 300,000 Palestinian refugees were forcibly displaced by the Zionists from the north of Palestine into Lebanon and Syria where they have been living in refugee camps ever since. Most of them were driven out of an area that was slated for the Palestinian state according to the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Israel refused to implement UN Resolution 194 calling for their return. The Palestinians engaged in guerilla warfare against Israel insisting on their right of return to their homes and villages. 2. In 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon to destroy the Palestinian Liberation Organization resistance, killing almost 20,000 people, including the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, and destroying much of the country. Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon lasted 22 years in defiance of UN Resolution 425 calling for its withdrawal. 3. In 1984, Hizballah, a Lebanese Shiite organization emerged as a resistance movement to Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon. Hizballah proved more formidable than the Palestinians and managed to drive the Israeli army out of Lebanon in the year 2000. 4. In the 1990s, Israeli forces kidnapped Hizballah leaders including prominent religious figures and carried out exchanges of prisoners with the exception of three, in violation of mutual agreements. 5. It is important to point out that in the Middle East, it is the US and Israel that are occupying other people’s land, and paradoxically, it is they who brand the people they oppress and who resist their occupation as terrorists.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
1. Immediate and unconditional ceasefire by all parties. 2. Implementation of all UN resolutions: The Middle East region has endured so much suffering and pain over the last sixty years. The time is now ripe for a comprehensive and lasting peace that will restore hope, and lead to a new Middle East established on justice and dignity for all its peoples. This can only be achieved by implementing ALL UN resolutions pertaining to the conflict without exception. No agreement will hold without first solving the Palestine-Israel conflict conclusively. This opportunity must not be lost. 3. Implementation of UN resolution 1559: Israel insists on the implementation of 1559 while ignoring its own obligations to dozens of UN resolutions since its establishment in 1948. It is hypocritical of Israel to insist on one resolution and totally disregarding others. If the implementation of 1559 in Lebanon helps to bring security to Israel, we believe that the implementation of UN resolutions 242 and 338 as well as others pertinent to the Palestine-Israel conflict will bring peace and security to Palestine, Israel, and the whole region. These include the return of the Golan Heights to Syria, the withdrawal from the Shebba farms, and the withdrawal from all the Occupied Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem. 4. Exchange of Prisoners: One of the major root causes for the present war is the question of prisoners – Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian, and others – whom Israel refuses to free. The international community must find a solution to this humanitarian problem. Without the release of prisoners the conflict will be renewed. The release of the prisoners must be an integral part of the solution.
FINAL THOUGHTS FOR CONSIDERATION:
FIRST: Israel is pursuing a short sighted policy based on power and domination. It must consider the far reaching consequences of such a policy. By its own doing, it is creating an atmosphere of hatred and rejection which will be difficult to overcome. Palestinians and Arabs in general have accepted the reality of the existence of the state of Israel in the Middle East. In order for Israel to live in peace and security in the region it has to guarantee the same for its neighbors. It needs to face its past and present injustices squarely and responsibly. It can do that by fulfilling the demands of International Law. It can then, with the Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, and other neighbors live in peace.
SECOND: The so-called “war on terror” is counterproductive. Injustice breeds violence and the arrogance of power does not bring submission. Solutions are within reach if they are established on International Law with equity, compassion and respect for the human dignity of all.
THIRD: A new Middle East conceived by the US and Israel and inflicting such horrible “birth pangs” on innocent civilians will be short-lived. A new Middle East can only be born through the will of the people, in a natural environment of justice, peace, and understanding among the nations of the region. Only then can the new-born survive, be healthy, and prosper.
It is high time for the United Nations to assert its rightful responsibility in guiding and implementing justice and peace in the world. So long as the US dictates its will on the UN, the hope for just solutions in various conflict areas is minimized. The peoples of the world want the UN and not the US to be entrusted with issues of peace. As believers in God, we reiterate our plea for a new Middle East where the international community would faithfully commit itself to bring about justice, mercy, and freedom to all the people of our region.
Sabeel Liberation Theology Center
August 2, 2006
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