Death Toll From Israeli Assault on Lebanon Reaches 215
At least 215 people have now died during Israel’s seven-day-old assault on Lebanon. All but 14 of the dead are civilians. The Israeli bombings have displaced more than 400,000 Lebanese residents from their homes. Tens of thousands of foreigners are trying to leave the country to escape the daily air strikes. Early this morning Israeli warplanes killed at least 11 people including seven civilians from the same family in southern Lebanon. On Monday, Israeli attacks killed at least 42 people making it one of the deadliest days of the week-old invasion. Among the dead were 12 civilians who were killed when an Israeli bomb hit their minivan just south of Beirut.
U.S. & Israel Reject Calls for Cease Fire
Calls continue to mount for the international community to do something to stop the bloodshed but there has been little progress on the diplomatic front. The cover of today’s Guardian newspaper shows a photograph of a bombed-out section of Beirut under the headline “Lebanon: The World Looks On.” Israel is refusing to rule out a massive ground invasion of Lebanon. The Israeli military has been massing troops, tanks and artillery pieces along the border. The military has also called up thousands of reserve troops. On Monday Israeli troops briefly crossed the Lebanese border but then returned to Israel. The Washington Post has reported that Israeli and U.S. officials are privately saying the Israeli bombing of Lebanon is expected to continue for several weeks. The paper also reports that the U.S. is supporting Israel in its refusal to agree to a ceasefire. On Monday President Bush was caught on tape privately telling Prime Minister Tony Blair that he felt UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s call for a ceasefire “seems odd.” Then Bush proceeded to curse as he blamed Syria for what was happening.
Olmert Vows To Continue Attacks on Lebanon
During a prime-time televised address Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to continue the bombardment of Lebanon until Hizbollah is crippled. On Monday Hizbollah fired 50 rockets at Northern Israel. Several injuries were reported. Over the past week Hizbollah rocket attacks have killed at least 24 Israelis including twelve civilians.
- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: "Citizens of Israel - there are moments in the life of a nation in which it is committed to look straight into reality and say - that is enough. And I tell everybody this is enough, Israel will not be taken hostage, not by terror gangs, not by a terror authority and not by a sovereign country."
Lebanese PM: “Israel Now Is A Terrorist Country”
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora accused Israel of trying to turn Lebanon back fifty years.
- Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora: "Israel now is a terrorist country that is committing everyday a terrorist act.
Air Strikes Cripple Lebanese Civilian Infrastructure
A new report by the Lebanese government shows that the Israeli air strikes have devastated the country’s infrastructure. Lebanon’s airports and seaports have been destroyed. Thirty-Eight roads have been cut off by bombs or shells and 42 bridges have been destroyed. Power stations, water-processing plants, grain silos and gas stations have also been targeted as well as communication and television antennas. The Daily Star newspaper in Beirut has accused Israel of violating the Geneva Conventions by attacking Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure.
900,000 Lebanese Expected to Be Displaced From Homes
The United Nations is warning of a looming humanitarian disaster. The World Health Organization expects the number of Lebanese residents displaced from their homes to reach 900,000 by the end of today. Over one hundred thousand people have already fled to Syria. Public parks in Beirut now resemble refugee camps filled with displaced residents. The UN peacekeeping force in South Lebanon has said it has been unable to deliver humanitarian aid to stranded civilians because Israel would not guarantee the safe passage of the aid workers. Last week Israeli fire hit an ambulance run by the Lebanese Red Crescent. Aid organizations report many injured people are also unable to reach hospitals because so many roads and bridges have been bombed. Food and medical supplies are also running out in areas.
Only 64 Americans Evacuated As of Monday Night
Tens of thousands of foreigners have begun fleeing the country in what has been described as one of the largest mass evacuations by sea in world history. Foreign embassies around the world have been sending in boats and helicopters to rescue citizens trying to escape the bombing. But the Bush administration is being accused of moving too slow. 25,000 U.S. citizens are believed to be in Lebanon. According to the Detroit News, only 64 Americans had been evacuated as of Monday night.
Report: Israel Using Banned Phosphorus Weapons
Lebanon’s Information Minister Ghazi Aridi has accused Israel of using banned weapons in violation of international law. Reports in the Lebanese media have claimed that Israel has used phosphorus incendiary bombs and vacuum bombs that suck up air and facilitate building collapses. The use of incendiary weapons against civilians has been banned since 1980. The U.S. military used similar phosphorous weapons during the siege of Fallujuah in Iraq.
Israel Accused Of Breaking U.S. Law By Using U.S. Weapons on Civilians
Several legal experts in the United States have accused Israel of violating the U.S. Arms Export Control Act by using U.S.-made fighter planes and missiles to kill civilians and to destroy Lebanon’s infrastructure. Defense experts say Israel has over five-hundred F-16 and F-15 fighters planes – all of them supplied by the United States.
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to Protest Outside White House
In Washington, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is holding a peace rally outside the White House at 5 p.m. today to protest the Israeli military action in both Lebanon and Gaza. The group is the largest American Arab civil rights organization in the United States.
Sen. Hillary Clinton Vows Support for Israel At Rally
Meanwhile on Monday thousands of supporters of Israel gathered in New York. Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton addressed the crowd vowing support for Israel.
- Sen. Hillary Clinton: "We will support her efforts to send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians, to the Iraniains, to all who seek death and domination instead of life and freedom that we will not permit this to happen and we will take whatever steps are necessary."