Passages from the Independent (London, England), 20th April.
Robert Fisk (journalist)
Patrick Cockburn (journalist)
Adil Darwish (journalist)
Alexandra Asseily (letter to the editor)

From Robert Fisk's article in the Independent, page 8: /P>

The sea was calm and out in the tranquil bay, the israeli missile-boats rode the full tide. Just a puff of smoke from their decks showed that it was business as usual. On my car radio, Uri Dromi, the israeli government spokesman, was telling us of his regret for the massacre at Qana and of israel's enormous respect for civilian life. The shells hit just to the east of the coastal highway, sending a shower of earth and rocks into the air. They were back at the usual job of firing at the traffic between Beirut and Sidon, 26 artillery rounds in just 50 minutes.

What world did Mr Dromi inhabit, I wondered, as the gunboats fired away? They were trying to cut Lebanob in half, to persuade the thousands of civilians who daily drive on the only road between Lebanon's two largest cities to go home, to break the highway passage between Beirut and southern Lebanon. Of course, the lebanese went on driving the road. And we all know what the israelis would say if they were hit. Had they not been warned not to go to Sidon?

[ ... ] and talking about the massacre at Qana, Fisk says in the same article:

What has so infuriated the lebanese, however, is not just the double standards of Mr Clinton but the West's apparent acceptance that the massacre was a mistake -as if the rest of israel's latest military adventure in Lebanon was a moral war of "surgical strikes" and " precision bombing". Surgical it may have been -and all too precise- but the targets have been almost entirely civilian. How else can one account for the fact that more than 200 civilians have been killed -but a maximum of only seven Hozbollah guerillas?

If Qana was a mistake, the lebanese ask, what about the israeli misile attack on a home in Nabatea a few hours earlier in which a family died, the youngest a four-day-old baby? Or the three children and two women slaughtered in the ambulance on Saturday. Or the two-year old girl decapitated by a missile in Beirut on Monday. Or the three sisters cut down by israeli shells a week ago. Or the 27-year old woman whose car was hit by an israeli missile a day earlier. Were these all mistakes? Or were they surgical precision?

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From Patrick Cockburn's article in the Independent on page 9:

[ ... ] Mr Peres appears to have failed to control the israeli army and notably the head of its northern Command, Major General Amiram Levine. In contrast to Yitzhak Rabin, his predecessor as prime minister and a former Chief of Staff, Mr Peres delegated his responsibilities as Defence Minister.

Ha'artez says that under General Levine's leadership what Mr Peres had intended as a surgical strike became an attack "on the civil infrastructure of Lebanon and climaxed with the killing of dozens of civilians".

[ ... ] An israeli commentator notes that Yitzhak rabin used to say that as a rule you could tell the loser in any war between israel and the Arabs by looking at who called for a ceasefire first. By this token the outcome of Grapes of Wrath is likely to be a defeat for israel.

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From Adil Darwish's article in the Independent on page 9:

[ ... ] A number of analysts saw the french and american ceasfire proposals as raising the political profile of Hizbollah to a status beyond what the extremists group had expected. "Israel's operation in Lebanon has only succeeded in turning Hizbollah from a lebanese militia into an essential partner in the wider peaceful settlement in the Middle East," the veteran exiled iranian commentator Amir Tahiri wrote in the Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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A letter to the editor (Independent), by Alexandra Asseily, page 16:

Sir: In 1978, after the first israeli invasion of Lebanon -to "root out and destroy" paelstinian "terrorists"- I saw, as co-ordinator for International Aid in Lebanon, the Hizbollah take root in the rubble of the destroyed villages of south Lebanon and in the slums they fled to. The indiscriminate violence of the israeli invasion of 1982 dug even deeper roots for freedom fighters and fundamentalists.

The palestinian "terrorist" movements had, of course, themselves taken root in the rubble of of homes in Palestine and the refugee camps of Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza, to which they had been forced to flee (funded by the USSR, Libya, Iraq and others).

The Zionist "terrorist" movements, Irgun and Haganah, took root in the pogroms and ghettos of Europe and years of oppression and persecution.

How is it then that in the name of lasting peace Mr Portillo, Mr Peres, Mr Clinton or anyone else can still believe in the effectiveness of crushing terrorism by terrorising whole populations. Even if Hizbollah is "crushed" and the Iranian and Syrian sponsors brought to heel, what new "terrorist" movement is now taking root in the destroyed homes, the overcrowded buildings to which the new refugees have fled in the past days? History will always provide sponsors.

Alexandra Asseily London W14