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by Pierre Laurent

The Crime of Qana

Translated Wednesday 2 August 2006, by Ann Drummond

Outrage. The images of the ruins of the Lebanese village of Qana, which have flashed across the world’s TV screens since yesterday morning, arouse both indignation and a sick feeling of disgust. Around sixty bodies pulled from a building where its inhabitants had taken shelter to escape the bombardments – and of these, 37 were children. What kind of barbarity can justify such a crime? As with the death of the 4 UN workers at the end of last week, Ehud Olmert had the audacity to express regret, which was immediately followed by a justification for it, acknowledging that the fire on Qana had been quite deliberate and that the inhabitants had been warned they should flee. The children and their parents, crushed under the rubble, were therefore the only ones to blame for their deaths. How can we take such cynicism? The whole thing is absolutely abhorrent.

The Israeli government is pursuing its bloodthirsty strategy in a completely irresponsible manner, consisting purely and simply of eradicating any possibility of life in the south of Lebanon. Strengthened by the paralysis imposed by the US on international diplomacy and in the UN, Ehud Olmert announced yesterday that his government still needs ten days to a fortnight to finish its dirty work. For the whole world to keep standing by without reacting to such an organized massacre would be intolerable. As the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said yesterday when the Qana massacre was announced, the only demand which should now be put on the table is that of an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. France must demand it of the UN Security Council and then refuse to support any declaration which would seek to avoid a ceasefire yet again. To cover up the Israeli carnage, the Americans and their Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are playing a game of liar poker, but it is Lebanese lives in their hundreds that are fuelling the increasing stakes. The hypocrisy must stop.

The official Israeli version, according to which the massacres are the price to be paid for ensuring peace and the security of Israel, is dangerous bullshit. Apart from the fact that this madness is at the expense of a whole sovereign country, Lebanon, that it justifies mowing down thousands of innocent people (over 700 civilian deaths and 2,000 injured according to the latest count), it can only pave the way for further rounds of violence, more tragedy for the region and further deaths for the Israeli population itself. Who can believe that this bloodbath is paving the way for peace, that it is better to follow this road of death, rather than declare a ceasefire, when the effect of a ceasefire would be instantaneous, immediately saving the deaths and destruction on both sides, which have been inflicted by a pointless and relentless military assault, and nothing else?

Who can still seriously think that the warlike crusade of George Bush’s US administration is undermining the breeding ground for terrorism? Exactly the opposite is true. It is responsible for scuppering the Palestinian agenda, the victory of Hamas - a ransom of despair- and the chaos in Iraq which has once more brought about six thousand deaths in the past two months? And the war against Lebanon - does it reinforce Hezbollah’s popularity in the Arab world, and its links with Iran, or does it support the political process of reconstruction of a stable and sovereign Lebanese state? The answer to the question is self evident.

Since 2001, the US has chosen war as a means of reconfiguring the world. And Israel has just taken an excessive step in accompanying it on this mad crusade. We have to stop this hellish machine by mobilising all the forces of peace and reason once more. After Iraq, let’s not allow the fire-raisers to ignite the whole Middle East, risking conflagrations which even more serious.

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