Monday, July 24, 2006

Yeah, What Good Would a Cease-Fire Do?

Two brothers from the Shaito family waited Sunday at a hospital in Tyre, Lebanon. Three of their relatives died while fleeing north when their van was struck by an Israeli missile.

Fleeing Family Ends Up in Path of Israeli Missile

SIDIQEEN, Lebanon, July 23 — Muntaha Shaito’s eyes rolled back as the paramedics screamed at her to stay awake and implored her son Ali to keep her engaged, as she teetered near death from shrapnel wounds inflicted by an Israeli rocket.

“Pray to God!,” one paramedic shouted at her as she writhed in Ali’s arms.

“Don’t go to sleep Mama, look at me!,” Ali shouted, tears streaking his bloodied face. “Don’t die, please don’t die!”

It was the scene that members of the extended Shaito family said they had feared most, the real reason they had held out for days in their village of Tireh in southern Lebanon, terrified of the Israeli bombardment, but more terrified of what might happen if they risked leaving. On Sunday they gave up their stand, and all 18 members crammed into the family’s white Mazda minivan. They planned to head north toward the relative safety of Beirut.

[...] An Israeli rocket, which Lebanese officials said was likely fired from a helicopter, slammed into the center of the Shaitos’ van as it sped round a bend a few miles west of their village, and the van crashed into a hillside. Three occupants were killed: an uncle, Mohammad; the grandmother, Nazira; and a Syrian man who had guarded their home. The missile also critically wounded Mrs. Shaito and her sister. Eleven others suffered less severe wounds.

“They said leave, and that’s what we did,” said Musbah Shaito, another uncle, as his niece, Heba, 16, cried hysterically behind him for her dead father, whose head was nearly blown off. This reporter watched as paramedics struggled to remove the dead from the van, but soon gave up, as an Israeli drone hovered overhead.

“This is what we got for listening to them,” Mr. Shaito said, speaking of the Israelis.

The Shaitos came from a farming village about five miles from the Israeli border in a region known for tobacco, citrus and olive crops. They had waved a white flag from the van, signifiying to Israeli aircraft that they were non-threatening, Mr. Shaito told reporters later.

The Israeli military said in a statement that its aircraft operations over southern Lebanon on Sunday had targeted “approximately 20 vehicles” suspected of “serving the terror organization in the launching of missiles at Israel, and were recognized fleeing from or staying at missile-launching areas.” The military did not comment on specific bombings, but cited the area south of Tyre, where the Shaitos were driving, as “an area used continuously by Hezbollah to fire missiles.”

[...] Israeli forces have sought to clear the area of all residents, in what seemed to be an attempt to separate the civilians from Hezbollah fighters hidden in the hills and villages. Just days earlier leaflets dropped by Israeli planes warned residents to leave the area and head north of the Litani River, effectively making the area a free-fire zone.

Bolton, Rice and Bush refuse to push for a cease-fire, claiming they want to reach a solution that will hold. In the meantime they are clearing hurdles to ship Israel more U.S.-made rockets A.S.A.P.

Any wonder why we are despised over there and seen as part of a Zionist hegemony? There'd be something wrong with those two boys in the picture if they didn't spend the rest of their lives hating Israel and the United States.


Smitty said...

NPR had a disturbing story this morning during Morning Edition whereby an interviewee mentioned that Southern Lebanon needed to be "cleansed."

As always, it is dangerous territory for us to tread on the subject of any conflict involving Israel, lest we be terrorist sympathizers, antisemitic, or both. I enjoy your take, though as I always enjoy your posts.

Back to "cleansing:" is there a role here for the U.S.? Can we not possibly keep our allies in check? This is tough, after all. Imagine that the Canadian Government sympathized with a terrorist organization and essentially turned away as they launched rockets into Detroit or Buffalo, or even Seattle. I would have to think, though, that even we would be a little more judicious as to our targets. Can we not intervene to assist but also calm an ally? Granted, we will side with Israel, but in doing so could help neutralize Hizbollah and create a continued ally in Lebanon. We can do it without sending in troops.

Lebanon's government is already weak. Hizbollah only controls 20% of all the seats, and is the minority party. Where Hizbollah gets its power is from the concept found recently among the detritus left after we killed Al Zarquoi (sp). The book said to truly build an insurgency, create misery, then be the only group still left to offer a solution, including the only group left to offer water, electricity, and protection. It worked in Somalia. It may work in Iraq. It could have been working all along in Lebanon. The point is, knowing this, we could step in and offer basic necessities. But right now, all we're doing is being complicit in the further unravelling of the situation.

S.W. Anderson said...

There's plenty of reason for hatred to go around and Hezbollah has also earned a heaping helping.

That said, your point is a good one. It seems the culture of life doesn't extend to hapless civilians caught up in Mideast violence in which the U.S. has a hand, directly or indirectly.

Mr Furious said...

It's a fucking mess over there, I will be the first to admit that.

I am sympathetic to Israel's plight, they need to do something in response to what was basically an armed incursion into their territory resulting in the abduction of their soldiers. And I am sympathetic to the fact that there are not the traditional "legitimate military targets" for them to strike back at.

Today on NPR, I heard some Lebanese guy pointing to damaged buildings and noting that they were a mosque, and other non-military targets. Well, Hezbollah stations itself among the populace for just that reason, so that rings hollow to me.

But Israel has gone way over the line. They are blasting everything that moves seemingly, and issuing a collective punishment on the Lebanese population that far outstrips what is warranted, or in my opinion, actually advances any sensible strategy.

And the U.S. has been worse than just sitting on the sidelines. No US official (that I've seen) has even as much as decried the civilian deaths, and we are sending Israel more missles.

S.W. Anderson said...

I wonder if the Lebanese might've been able to avert this.

Apparently, Lebanon's military is nowhere near being able to take on Hezbollah. But if Lebanon had asked for help, maybe the U.N. or even Israel, Hezbollah might've been rousted out of the border area, maybe out of Lebanon altogether.

That probably wouldn't have set well in Damascus and Tehran, but it would've been better for the Lebanese than what's happening now.

Mr Furious said...

I heard someone address this on TOTN this afternoon. IT likely would have caused the Army to split along sectarian lines and would be near-impossible to pull off.

IF it had been handled better at the offset by Lebanon and Israel, it might have played out differently. In the beginning there was not much support for what Lebanon had done. hat's all out the window now that Israel is reducing towns to rubble and causing mass amounts of refugees.

As I said above, try to explain rationally to those two boys why this unfolded the way it did. It won't matter.

Big Pun said...

This is easy math.

18 in a van. 3 innocents dead. 0 current Hezbollah members eliminated. 15 potential...probable...Hezbollah recruits. 15 assuredly Israeli-haters and filled with vengenace. And that's not counting the paramedics who see this carnage nor the doctors that must be running low on sutures by this point.

Good job, Israel. It's now obvious that Bush gave 'em HIS Iraq playbook for Lebanon. Israel...then...used it...incredibly.

Mr Furious said...

I think Israel had a few copies of their own laying around. They didn't need Bush's picto-version.

DED said...

For the record, Israel makes alot of its own ammunition. For example, MSNBC ran a report last week where they showed video of American made artillery firing Israeli made shells.

chuck said...

Isn't this where Barbara Bush looks at the suffering kids and says, "Considering what happened to their relatives, this is working out well for them."