The gift that keeps on giving....

18 September 2006.

  • In today's Independent, Patrick Cockburn has written an article entitled Deadly harvest: The Lebanese fields sown with cluster bombs, which in some 1100 words effectively gives the lie to the claims of the Israeli state and its supporters and bagmen that the former was waging a war of self-defence, not against Lebanon, but against Hezbollah. Mr Cockburn cites a report in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz :

    Some Israeli officers are protesting at the use of cluster bombs, each containing 644 small but lethal bomblets, against civilian targets in Lebanon. A commander in the MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems) unit told the Israeli daily Haaretz that the army had fired 1,800 cluster rockets, spraying 1.2 million bomblets over houses and fields. 'In Lebanon, we covered entire villages with cluster bombs,' he said. 'What we did there was crazy and monstrous.' What makes the cluster bombs so dangerous is that 30 per cent of the bomblets do not detonate on impact. They can lie for years - often difficult to see because of their small size, on roofs, in gardens, in trees, beside roads or in rubbish - waiting to explode when disturbed.

    The consequences of this kind of warfare ? Aside from the individual tragedies - according to Cockburn some four people a day have been killed and many more wounded since (the overt) hostilities ceased, note the effect on the economic life of the villages affected :

    ... Villagers said that they were most worried by the cluster bombs still infesting their gardens, roofs and fruit trees. In the village street, were the white vehicles of the Manchester-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG), whose teams are trying to clear the bomblets.

    It is not an easy job. Whenever members of one of the MAG teams finds and removes a bomblet, they put a stick, painted red on top and then yellow, in the ground. There are so many of these sticks that it looks as if some sinister plant had taken root and is flourishing in the village.

    'The cluster bombs all landed in the last days of the war,' said Nuhar Hejazi, a surprisingly cheerful 65-year-old woman. 'There were 35 on the roof of our house and 200 in our garden so we can't visit our olive trees.' People in Yohmor depend on their olive trees and the harvest should begin now before the rains, but the trees are still full of bomblets. 'My husband and I make 20 cans of oil a year which we need to sell,' Mrs Hejazi says. 'Now we don't know what to do.' The sheer number of the bomblets makes it almost impossible to remove them all.

    The strategic consequences are obvious, and just as the destruction of olive trees, roads and fields (with bulldozers, mainly, not as yet with cluster bombs) in the 22 % of Mandate Palestine which is supposed to become the territory of a Palestinian state has nothing to do with fighting Hamas, so the destruction of the basis for the livelihoods of the Lebanese has nothing to do with fighting Hezbollah. Here the sea in which the guerrillas swim, the population of southern Lebanon, is not being drained in order to get rid of the guerrillas (Hezbollah) - although that would certainly be a most welcome by-product of the strategy, were it to succeed - but rather just in order to drain the sea, so that one population can be replaced by another, more to the liking of the Israeli state's strategists. Here below the response I posted to StumbleUpon after reading Mr Cockburn's article :

Read Mr Cockburn's article, and then tell me that the Israeli state was «making war on Hezbollah» ! This flood of cluster bombs, dropped or fired in the last 72 hours before the cease fire that everyone knew was coming (but which the Israeli state, backed by the US - the same US that supplied the cluster bombs in the first place - har resisted as long as politically possible) had, of course, another purpose than putting Hezbollah fighters out of action : that of removing the population in the villages in which they were dropped by making it impossible for people to go about there daily lives without risking their lives and limbs. The name of the game is ethnic cleansing, by means of the gift which keeps on giving, long after the war is thought to be over !...

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