Israel is still trying to provoke Hezbollah into retaliating to ceasefire violations. These violations include incursions by tanks, bulldozers, troops and aircraft. There has also been gunfire to intimidate the Lebanese. Unifil spokesman Alexander Ivanko said there have been over 100 ceasefire violations by the IDF in the last month. Hezbollah patrols the hills but has not responded to the Israeli provocation.
The arrival of the enhanced Unifil force hasn’t yet inspired much confidence among the Lebanese people and it appears that apart from some limited de mining operations little is being done by the force.
Talk of the UN met with a similar lack of enthusiasm. “We don’t know them and they don’t know us – so how can their be any real trust between us? They will not stand against the Israelis; they are Europeans that are coming now,” said Kalamia. Villagers had seen UN troops roll through the village without stopping a few days earlier. “They have come and gone before, it’s the same old story. Whether they’re here or not, it doesn’t make any difference to us,” said Fatmeh Srour.[…]
Nearby Bint Jbeil, where the bloodiest battles were fought, is the first of four southern towns to benefit from a planned $300,000 reconstruction project funded by Qatar. The Lebanese army deployed to the town nearly two weeks ago, but the residents still complain of Israeli harassment. “It’s not a ceasefire yet because the Israelis have not stopped their firing,” said Ibrahim Bassi. “The big test for the Unifil is whether they can stop the violations.”
A commander of the Israeli Defence Force has confirmed that cluster bombs and phosphorous shells were used on civilians during the conflict.
“In Lebanon, we covered entire villages with cluster bombs, what we did there was crazy and monstrous,” testifies a commander in the Israel Defense Forces’ MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) unit. Quoting his battalion commander, he said the IDF fired some 1,800 cluster rockets on Lebanon during the war and they contained over 1.2 million cluster bombs. The IDF also used cluster shells fired by 155 mm artillery cannons, so the number of cluster bombs fired on Lebanon is even higher. At the same time, soldiers in the artillery corps testified that the IDF used phosphorous shells, which many experts say is prohibited by international law. According to the claims, the overwhelming majority of the weapons mentioned were fired during the last ten days of the war.
It is obvious that both sides in the conflict are guilty of war crimes. Israel is unlikely to be prosecuted however because it has the support of the USA and the Bush administration which approves of the extermination tactics used on the the Lebanese and Palestinians. Hezbollah has now also been accused of war crimes by Amnesty International. No doubt this will be seized on as justification for the far more monstrous Israeli war crimes but Hezbollah too is unlikely to be prosecuted.
Meanwhile Tony Blair’s policy of refusing to call for a ceasefire at the same time as calling for a UN resolution has come under attack from Foreign Office minister, Kim Howells. During the conflict Kim Howells called for a ceasefire and then backtracked on his statement (presumably after coming under pressure from the Government). Now that Blair is so weakened he is once again criticising the policy.
A Foreign Office minister has conceded that Tony Blair’s refusal to call for a ceasefire during 34 days of slaughter in Lebanon may have been a mistake.
The admission by Kim Howells, minister for the Middle East, reflects the growing worries of senior figures in government that Mr Blair’s defence of US foreign policy at every turn is damaging his administration at home and abroad.
Mr Howells also conceded that the decision to oppose – with the US – the international demand for an immediate ceasefire was not properly explained to the British public.
Blair came under attack for his foreign policy recently when he addressed the TUC. Union members held up placards and heckled the Prime Minister and some Union members walked out when Blair started to speak. Nevertheless Blair did try to defend his policies without convincing anybody.
When heckled over British troops being in Iraq, Blair said that those troops were there because the elected Government of Iraq requested them in order to keep order in the country ignoring the obvious facts that there is no order in the country and those troops went in as part of an illegal invasion of Iraq. Blair argued that British troops are in Iraq to stop the chaos created by British troops going into Iraq. The puppet government might be requesting for the troops to remain in the country (although it wants a clear timetable for withdrawal) but that doesn’t seem to be what the Iraqi people want or what the populations of coalition member states want.
The UN is also criticising the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq again. Kofi Annan said that most Middle East leaders regard the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath as a disaster for the region. No doubt Tony Blair thinks that Kofi Annan is in alliance with those mad anti-American Europeans.