War on Lebanon: „We want only one thing: Peace“

Karin Leukefeld, Beirut
[see Karin Leukefeld's website under: http://www.leukefeld.net]
Neues Deutschland, 10 August 2006

In Beirut and even more in southern Lebanon the situation is ever more unbearable. But almost no one hopes for support from the “international community”

“We had no other choice but to reduce the size of our paper,” wrote the English language “Daily Star” in an announcement to its readers. Only four pages could now be printed daily. The Beirut newspaper, publishing since 1952, is running out of printing ink. The reason: Israel is blocking and bombing all the land, air and sea links to Lebanon.

But not just ink is becoming rare in the city of cedars; it is running out of gas. Lines of cars at gas stations are reminiscent of Iraq. Gas is rationed, and instead of 5 million liters daily, only two million liters are being released by the government. “Ten liters are sold for ten US dollars, per car,” says Raschid, who works as a driver for a local aid organization.

Since the beginning of the war two oil tankers have been anchored before Cyprus. Their captains refuse to head towards Beirut, because Israel’s navy is not ready to guarantee safe passage. An offer by the US Marines to accompany the ships was turned down. Instead the suppliers demand additional insurance costing $15 million for the shipment. If this oil does not reach Beirut by mid-August, the electricity supply cannot be maintained. Sixty percent of the hospitals could then become unable to cope with the flow of wounded and additional patients.

The Israeli government persistently prevents the transport of aid to the southern part of the country. Everything moving in a vehicle on the streets south of the River Litani will be shot at, announce fliers dropped by the Israeli air force in the area of the port city of Tyros. Neither UN transports nor Red Cross vehicles are safe from Israeli missiles.

What Israel calls “defense“ looks like something else to the Lebanese. “A clear violation of international law,” is their unanimous opinion. “What do the Israelis want?” asked Sultan Bidawi in his bookshop. “How can they expect us to be their friends when they don’t even allow us bare survival?” While Israelis take shelter from Hezbollah’s missiles, the Lebanese have neither shelters nor siren alarms.

Fulfilment of the Lebanese government’s Seven Point Plan is, according to a survey of the Beirut Center for Research and Information, seen as essential by the great majority of Lebanese. When asked whether the UN Resolution should be accepted without taking this plan into consideration, 88 percent of those questioned answered with a clear no. Among the Shiites it was even 96.9 percent.

The plan’s central demands are for an immediate ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops, return of the Shebaa Farms,* the freeing of Arab prisoners in Israel, and also deployment of the Lebanese Army as the only armed power in Lebanon. At a crisis meeting of the Lebanese government, the two ministers of Hezbollah also approved the government’s proposal to station, in addition to a strengthened UNIFIL force, 15,000 Lebanese soldiers in the south of the country, as long as the Israelis had completely withdrawn.

Meanwhile, hope in international support is minimal. “No to the Draft UN Resolution” was the title of the Monday magazine “Together we are Strong,” another newspaper. “The UN is completely useless,” says Hassan Hamadi, who had to flee Israeli bombs on the village Froun. “The USA has it fully in its hands.” Because of the war the 68 year old farmer has lost his entire tobacco crop, worth 5 million Lebanese pounds (around 3000€. His family is now living with their Palestinian son-in-law in Burj al Barajneh, the Palestinian refugee camp in southern Beirut. The camp today seems even to many Lebanese to be safer than many other places in the country, although Israeli missiles have turned the surroundings into rubble. However in the refugee camp Ain Hilwa near Sidon several people have already been killed by Israeli air strikes.

“We don’t want anything from the Israelis,“ said Hassan Hamadi. “We just want our house and our land. We want just one thing: Peace.”

** ID at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shebaa_Farms

For more on Karin Leukefeld’s work: http://www.dieschwelle.de/content/englisch/peace_award_2005/germany_western/karin_leukefeld.htm
Translation: Anna Gyorgy, Women and Life on Earth e.V. www.wloe.org