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Sunday, July 30, 2006

IAF targets launching sites in Qana; Hezbullah won't allow rescue

The IAF targeted rocket launching sites in the Lebanese town of Qana this morning with deadly results. A three-story building hit by IAF missiles collapsed, several houses that were used to launch Katyusha rockets were destroyed, and depending upon which estimate you believe, as many as sixty people may have been killed.

Nearly half the victims were reported to be children whose parents decided to place them in the line of fire after they were warned to evacuate due to the impending strike on the Katyusha launchers.

If the name of the town sounds familiar it may be because Israel hit a UN outpost there in 1996 during Operation Grapes of Wrath. In that case, civilians had gone to the UN outpost to escape bombings, while Hezbullah 'fighters' stood outside and fired missiles.

An IDF officer confirmed the strike, saying that civilians had been warned to leave the area, and that at least ten rockets had been fired from within the village at Israel, and dozens more rockets had been fired from nearby. Qana was apparently the principle shooting point for rockets shot at Nahariya over the past two and a half weeks, as well as for rockets shot at Kiryat Shmona, Afula and Ma'alot among others. As a result of those attacks, according to the IDF, eighteen Israelis were killed and hundreds more were wounded.

An IAF officer told the Jerusalem Post that the air force had been targeting the village for the past three days and on Saturday night struck ten different targets inside the village. He said the building hit Sunday was picked because intelligence indicated that Hizbullah guerillas were hiding inside together with Katyusha rockets and launchers. The guerillas fire rockets and then flee into the nearby buildings.

The IDF believes that Hezbullah was using Qana as a launching point due to the symbolism: after artillery shells killed 100 people in 1996, Israel was forced to suspend Operation Grapes of Wrath. YNet recalls that incident:
In 1996, during Operation Grapes of Wrath, the IDF shot an artillery shell at fire sources in the village of Qana in southern Lebanon. The shell hit a UN outpost in the village, which was functioning at the time as a shelter for residents of the village. The shell caused the death of over 100 Lebanese civilians and the injury of tens more village residents.

The results of the shelling disaster realized the Israeli fear of international pressure. Pictures of the dead and injured were broadcast throughout the world, giving birth to intense international pressure on Israel to end the operation even though its objectives were not yet achieved.

A short time before the events of Qana, the UN initiated an US-led mediation process between Israel and Syrian and Lebanese representatives (who acted in coordination with Hizbullah). After a number of days of negotiations, the representatives signed an agreement called Understandings of Grapes of Wrath (4.26.1996), in which the two sides committed not to involved civilians in war.

Practically, it was agreed that Hizbullah would abstain from firing Katyusha rockets at Israel, and that the IDF would abstain from shooting at civilian targets in southern Lebanon. Likewise, it was agreed upon to establishment of a follow-up committee, in which the United States, France, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel would participate, that would oversee the application of the understandings. One possible interpretation of the agreement is that Israel recognized Hizbullah's right to strike IDF soldiers in the security buffer zone.
Two points I'd like to make.

First, for those of you who didn't read it yet, go back and read my post last night about how Professor Kasher decided that it might be okay for the IDF to risk civilians casualties if proper warning was given.

Second, I'd like to point you to a Lebanese blog post that has some very unkind things to say about us. I'd like to point out to you that he says that Hezbullah is not allowing people to be rescued from at least one of the collapsed buildings. Here's what he says (forgive the foul language and note the part in red):
To Israelis: Before believing your IDF's bullshit about Hezbollah hiding in that building, try just for a minute to imagine yourself stuck under a ton of rubbles, alive, but not being able to move because the beasts next door refuse to allow cranes to come and remove the rubbles. I’m sure you’d rather die a much quicker death!
Sounds like Hezbullah is not allowing cranes to come in and try to pry people out of the rubble. I guess they want more civilian deaths.

And to the blogger who wrote that, if you see the link from me and want to try to change your post, feel free, I've already screen-captured your post.

7 Comments:

At 8:44 PM, Blogger AbbaGav said...

I'm not sure about the crane thing. He might have been implying he feels Israel is somehow preventing rescue (the beast next door in a comment addressed to Israelis telling them not to believe IDF b******t about Hizballah makes me question the meaning of that).

In fact, now that I check, he said, "because Israelis refused to allow humanitarian assistance to reach Southern towns."

 
At 9:59 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

We are coming to Israel in 10 days, our first trip ever for a visit.

I know that this is not the best time to come, but it is the right time. Can you tell me honestly what life is like in Jerusalem today? Are people out and about? Are stores open? Is there an electricity of fear everywhere?

This situation is so complex.

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Also: We are coming to Israel to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and to lend support to the people now.

My greatest wish is to be there to celebrate a victory, and/or a truce.

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

I don't know. I made the same comment on his site and he has not answered it. Note also, that the IDF is now reporting that the building was actually hit at midnight (I thought it was hit mid-morning today) and that it collapsed around 8:00 AM. If that's the case, why didn't they get the people out during the night? Would you stay ovrenight in a building that had just been hit by a missile? (I am about to post about this).

 
At 10:03 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Barbara,

Jerusalem is very quiet now. Someone over the weekend compared it to Hungary before 1944. The war is nearby but you would never know it here.

 
At 11:32 PM, Blogger Jean-Pierre said...

Dear Israel Matzav,

First let me express my solidarity with all innocent civilians hurt in this conflict, whether they are from one side or the other. A human being remains a human being.

Dear Israel Matzav, are you seeking peace, and do you feel your blog is balanced enough to help achieving this noble aim?

You say you are in favor of a "disproportionate response". Well, in order to carry out a disproportionate response, obviously you must have the means to do so.
Does it mean that according to you, the strongest party is always right?

But then, what if your mother had given you birth on the other side of the border?

With respect,

Jean-Pierre

 
At 10:45 PM, Blogger AbbaGav said...

Keep up the good work Carl. Speak truth. Balance is in the internet. Each of us is obligated to speak what we believe (and hopefully thought through) to be the truth, not to invent nice-sounding even-handedness. If some of that truth lies in the middle, as it often does, so be it. But I'm not going to seek balance in posts about Nazi Germany, or for that matter, terrorists who announce they want me and everyone like me dead and gone.

 

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