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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Israël déclenche une guerre totale, published Saturday 15 July, page 2

by Françoise Germain-Robin

Israël launches total war

translated by Henry Crapo

Translated Wednesday 19 July 2006, by Henry Crapo

The Near East: With the support of George Bush, the Israëli government undertakes the destruction of Lebanon. Total blockade. The Hezbollah continues to pound the north of Israël.

History is stuttering in the Near East. Once again the region is plunged in war. Again, it is Israël that starts the war. Again, the Palestinians and Lebanese are the first victims. As in 1982, when Israël invaded Lebanon, intending to chase the OLP of Yasser Arafat from southern Lebanon and Beirut, Israël attacks its neighbor to the north with its full military might, where it is the major military force in the area. And once again, civilians are the main victims. Palestinians number 200,000 in refugee camps in southern Lebanon, and are the first targets, along with the Lebanese. Already, 70 have perished. There are hundreds of wounded, and all vital elements of infrastructure are destroyed or seriously damaged: roads, water supply, electricity, fuel storage. The Lebanese are caught in a trap, under siege, and Lebanon is completely isolated from the rest of the world, in mortal danger.

Exodus, under the bombs

It took no more than 24 hours for the Israëli army to destroy the runways of all the airports, both civil and military (including that of the new Beirut airport, just inaugurated, to cut the highways and bridges, to establish a total maritime blockade, to isolate Lebanon from the rest of the world. The last land route still open after the first day of the Israëli offensive, that from Damascus, was cut by bombardment yesterday morning. The thousands of civilians, who were attempting to flee Beirut and its region, were forced to turn back and to try to find a passage across the mountains. Horrible images of exodus reappear, like a recurrent nightmare.

The difference this time is that the population of the north of Israël is also affected. The Hezbollah continued yesterday to fire rockets and missiles at the north of Israël, hitting several areas, including the port of Haifa. Six Israëli civilians were killed, and the population, until now in underground shelters, have begun to flee toward the south.

Officially, the purpose of this offensive, which Israël refuses to call a war, is to oblige the Hezbollah, the "party of God", to return two Israëli soldiers captured Wednesday at the Israël-Lebanon border. "If we cut the highways", says the spokesman for the Israëli army, "it is to prevent the Hezbollah from transporting the prisoners out of the country". In fact, certain Israëli leaders, including some in the Labor party, acknowledge that the real purpose is "to finish off the Hezbollah". Dany Yatom, former chief of the Mossad, and now Labor deputy, warns the Hezbollah against any continuation of their launching of rockets. "If they want to bomb our cities, we’re going to flatten them in a way they little expect. They should never forget that we have supremacy of the air, and that we know how to use it."

Shimon Peres, vice-prime minister, paraphrasing Bush, speaks of the "axis of evil: Hamas, Hezbollah, Damas, Teheran," which he accuses of "destroying Israël", and justifies the military operation as "a contribution to the worldwide war against terrorism". The defense minister, Amir Peretz, also in the Labor party, whom one hoped prior to his election would be more moderate and pacifist, promises new military escalations, warns that the offensive will last "several weeks", recalls 6000 reservists and masses his troops, in such a way as to give rise to fears of a massive new invasion of Lebanon.

For many observers, including the Belgian socialist senator Pierre Galand, president of the European Coordination of committees for support of Palestine, "This escalation by Israël can be largely explained by the silence of the international community in the face of the operation launched these past two weeks against Gaza. Ehud Ohmert, who one should remember was always a hawk, feels himself authorized to continue and to go further. The action taken by the Hezbollah in capturing two Israëli soldiers in a contested frontier region, an act aimed at taking the pressure off Gaza via a diversion to the north, is simply a pretext. Israël’s real target is Syria. In this, he has Bush’s approval. This is extremely grave, since it will lead to an inflaming of the entire region."

A demand to stop the combat

In fact, the attitude of George Bush is highly surprising. He is the only world leader to fully approve of the attitude of Israël, in viewing the offensive against Lebanon as a part of Israël’s "right to defend itself". As usual, the U.S representative at the United Nations vetoed a resolution condemning this attitude. The other leaders of the G8, the first of whom being Vladimir Poutine, demanded an immediate cessation of combat. The European Union judged "disproportionate" the counterattack by Israël, and sent Javier Solana to the region to try to negotiate a cease-fire and the liberation of the Israëli captives. The United Nations, paralyzed by the U.S. veto, has also sent an emissary. It remains to be seen what the Arab League will do on Saturday, they being the most concerned, but curiously the last to react, to avoid an inflaming of the region, with incalculable consequences with respect to peace in the world, in a conflict that has already cost too many human lives.

Françoise Germain-Robin


Marie-George Buffet

In a letter to the president of the French Republic, the national secretary of the French Communist Party expressed her concerns in face of "a brutal military offensive by Israël against Lebanon, and an exacerbation of the regional confrontation". "International security is at stake", continues the deputy. She emphasized that "The Security Council, as requested notably by France, should demand the withdrawal of Israëli troops from Lebanon and Gaza, the liberation of the Israëli soldiers and of the jailed Palestinian government ministers and deputies, the lifting of all sanctions imposed on the Palestinians, and the creation of a new peace process under the control of the international community".

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