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John Simkin

War Crimes in the Lebanon

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It is worth noting that the main reason that Blair is about to be removed as prime minister is because of his policy over Lebanon. Even more than Iraq it showed that Blair’s foreign policy is being driven by the governments of the U.S. and Israel.

It is also interesting that the only support that Blair is getting from the newspapers over this issue are those owned by Rupert Murdoch.

According to today's Telegraph Mirror, July 26 has been pencilled in. It also stated the following:

His popularity has plunged after a string of Government scandals over sleaze and mismanagement as well as controversy over the Iraq war.

Of course the Telegraph Mirror is owned by Murdoch so you don't really get the full truth. They didn't mention Lebanon.

Our PM, Poodle Howard, is also firmly controlled by the US, Israel and Murdoch. Any time a journalist questions Israel's actions in Lebanon, Howard almost jumps out his chair to defend the indefensible. Murdoch's flagship publication in this country,The Australian, called for a pre-emptive strike on Iran on two separate occasions last week. Scum like Murdoch doesn't give a damn about deaths or casualties, he just wants to make (more) money.

BTW, I wonder what the neocons running the US have in mind for our October surprise? I'm tipping an invasion of Syria on the pretext of funding terrorists and, wait for it,...WMD's!! They could be the same ones they failed to find in Iraq :lol::lol: . Only this time they'll "find" them. They won't make that mistake twice---no siree. You read it here first.

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Robert Fisk: Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb

Alarm over radioactive legacy left by attack on Lebanon

Published: 28 October 2006

Did Israel use a secret new uranium-based weapon in southern Lebanon this summer in the 34-day assault that cost more than 1,300 Lebanese lives, most of them civilians?

We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week. And we now know - after it first categorically denied using such munitions - that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed.

But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence - which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.

Dr Busby's initial report states that there are two possible reasons for the contamination. "The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon (eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash ... The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium." A photograph of the explosion of the first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium.

Enriched uranium is produced from natural uranium ore and is used as fuel for nuclear reactors. A waste productof the enrichment process is depleted uranium, it is an extremely hard metal used in anti-tank missiles for penetrating armour. Depleted uranium is less radioactive than natural uranium, which is less radioactive than enriched uranium.

Israel has a poor reputation for telling the truth about its use of weapons in Lebanon. In 1982, it denied using phosphorous munitions on civilian areas - until journalists discovered dying and dead civilians whose wounds caught fire when exposed to air.

I saw two dead babies who, when taken from a mortuary drawer in West Beirut during the Israeli siege of the city, suddenly burst back into flames. Israel officially denied using phosphorous again in Lebanon during the summer - except for "marking" targets - even after civilians were photographed in Lebanese hospitals with burn wounds consistent with phosphorous munitions.

Then on Sunday, Israel suddenly admitted that it had not been telling the truth. Jacob Edery, the Israeli minister in charge of government-parliament relations, confirmed that phosphorous shells were used in direct attacks against Hizbollah, adding that "according to international law, the use of phosphorous munitions is authorised and the (Israeli) army keeps to the rules of international norms".

Asked by The Independent if the Israeli army had been using uranium-based munitions in Lebanon this summer, Mark Regev, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "Israel does not use any weaponry which is not authorised by international law or international conventions." This, however, begs more questions than it answers. Much international law does not cover modern uranium weapons because they were not invented when humanitarian rules such as the Geneva Conventions were drawn up and because Western governments still refuse to believe that their use can cause long-term damage to the health of thousands of civilians living in the area of the explosions.

American and British forces used hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) shells in Iraq in 1991 - their hardened penetrator warheads manufactured from the waste products of the nuclear industry - and five years later, a plague of cancers emerged across the south of Iraq.

Initial US military assessments warned of grave consequences for public health if such weapons were used against armoured vehicles. But the US administration and the British government later went out of their way to belittle these claims. Yet the cancers continued to spread amid reports that civilians in Bosnia - where DU was also used by Nato aircraft - were suffering new forms of cancer. DU shells were again used in the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq but it is too early to register any health effects.

"When a uranium penetrator hits a hard target, the particles of the explosion are very long-lived in the environment," Dr Busby said yesterday. "They spread over long distances. They can be inhaled into the lungs. The military really seem to believe that this stuff is not as dangerous as it is." Yet why would Israel use such a weapon when its targets - in the case of Khiam, for example - were only two miles from the Israeli border? The dust ignited by DU munitions can be blown across international borders, just as the chlorine gas used in attacks by both sides in the First World War often blew back on its perpetrators.

Chris Bellamy, the professor of military science and doctrine at Cranfield University, who has reviewed the Busby report, said: "At worst it's some sort of experimental weapon with an enriched uranium component the purpose of which we don't yet know. At best - if you can say that - it shows a remarkably cavalier attitude to the use of nuclear waste products."

The soil sample from Khiam - site of a notorious torture prison when Israel occupied southern Lebanon between 1978 and 2000, and a frontline Hizbollah stronghold in the summer war - was a piece of impacted red earth from an explosion; the isotope ratio was 108, indicative of the presence of enriched uranium. "The health effects on local civilian populations following the use of large uranium penetrators and the large amounts of respirable uranium oxide particles in the atmosphere," the Busby report says, "are likely to be significant ... we recommend that the area is examined for further traces of these weapons with a view to clean up."

This summer's Lebanon war began after Hizbollah guerrillas crossed the Lebanese frontier into Israel, captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three others, prompting Israel to unleash a massive bombardment of Lebanon's villages, cities, bridges and civilian infrastructure. Human rights groups have said that Israel committed war crimes when it attacked civilians, but that Hizbollah was also guilty of such crimes because it fired missiles into Israel which were also filled with ball-bearings, turning their rockets into primitive one-time-only cluster bombs.

Many Lebanese, however, long ago concluded that the latest Lebanon war was a weapons testing ground for the Americans and Iranians, who respectively supply Israel and Hizbollah with munitions. Just as Israel used hitherto-unproven US missiles in its attacks, so the Iranians were able to test-fire a rocket which hit an Israeli corvette off the Lebanese coast, killing four Israeli sailors and almost sinking the vessel after it suffered a 15-hour on-board fire.

What the weapons manufacturers make of the latest scientific findings of potential uranium weapons use in southern Lebanon is not yet known. Nor is their effect on civilians.

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A most interesting article by Mike Whitney.

War Crimes in the Lebanon continue.

The players at this stage in the violence wear suits, not military uniform. They set vicious financial terms so this victim country can rebuild (again!), leave the aggressor nation that bombed the country (again!) off the hook (again!), forment conflict within the Lebanon people to the disadvantage of resistance forces - and mislead the western public via the LMM while they're at it.

And yes, while I've admired and learnt from Robert Fisk over the years, I've also become increasingly suspicious of his take on a number of issues and lack of follow-up on others. IMO, he's either bent, leaned on or playing a very long term game.

Why Fisk is wrong about Lebanon

January 27, 2007

"This is how the 1975-90 conflict began in Lebanon. Outbreaks of sectarian hatred, appeals for restraint, promises of aid from Western and Arab nations and a total refusal to understand that this is how civil wars begin". Robert Fisk, "World ignores Signs of Civil War in Lebanon" UK Independent 1-27-07

Robert Fisk is all wrong about Lebanon. The country is not on the brink of another "civil war". It's been subsumed in an "imperial war" engineered in Tel Aviv and Washington. He’s also mistaken in thinking that the Paris 3 Conference is designed to "save" Lebanon from the mountain of debt which piled up after Israel’s destructive 34 day war. The real purpose of the $7.6 billion in loans is to shackle Lebanon to the international lending institutions that are demanding additional taxes on the poor, more privatization of state-run industries, and restructuring the economy to meet the requirements of the global banking elite.

According to a recent article by Chris Marsden in Countercurrents:

"Only a fraction of the loans will be spent on reconstruction projects. Most will go towards servicing Lebanon’s short-term debt and therefore back into the coffers of the imperialist governments and financial institutions, while leaving Lebanon’s long-term debts to climb even higher. The rest will go into paying the Lebanese army (and security services) in order to suppress the opposition in the Shia areas in the south of the country. And, once again, any money given will be made conditional on the government implementing the reforms demanded by the IMF and World Bank."

This is the real war--the class war-- that continues to be directed at the people in developing world.

How many times have we seen the World Bank and IMF swoop down on their prey after a nation has been savaged by war only to apply the vice-grips of massive debt and set up another corporate colony? The rise of sectarianism and the "clash of civilizations" bunkum is just the mask that conceals the real struggle; the ongoing war and exploitation of the people who have no voice in government.

Here’s a question for Fisk: Is there any doubt now that the US and Israel used the UN to push Syrian troops out of Lebanon just so they could execute their bloody plan to invade the country and set up a puppet regime in Beirut? Or was that merely a coincidence?

And, is there any doubt that World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz, knew that he would be used in Phase 2 of the assault on Lebanese sovereignty by providing more economy-busting loans?

The US military is just the left hand of the banking establishment. One hand washes the other.

It’s the perfect system; the US-Israeli war machine flattens an entire country and then their buddies in the in the corporate-banking business rake in the profits from loans and reconstruction contracts. At the same time, they insist that the "New Lebanon" be rebuilt according to the neoliberal model; the same economic model that has kept Latin America and Africa in abject poverty for 2 decades.

Fisk is wrong; it’s not "sectarian hatred" that is driving the war, but outside powers that are using their proxies within Lebanon to achieve their geopolitical objectives. In other words, this not the beginning of civil war, but a continuation of the 34 Day war; the deliberate pulverizing of Lebanon to create an US-Israeli protectorate in a critical area of the Middle East. Future pipeline corridors and regional hegemony require a compliant pro-western government in Beirut. That’s why the Bush administration has armed and trained the massive security apparatus of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, so he could succeed where Israel failed, by crushing Hezbollah and the pro-democracy movement.

On the other hand, Hezbollah is demanding that the Siniora respect the constitution and step down to allow for the formation of a unity government. That is what is REQUIRED under the law (after six members of the Parliament walked out, it effectively disbanded the government) and that is why Hezbollah has been camped out in the center of the city since December 1.

If the Bush administration was serious about democracy, they’d throw their support behind the opposition. (Hezbollah and Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement) But then we know what happens when the will of the people clashes with the aims of the administration. (check the war against the democratically-elected government of Hamas)

Siniora’s political base is limited to Sunnis, some parts of the Christian community, and the Lebanese business elite (Hariri). Some of them like, Samir Geagea, "the ex-civil war militia killer" are connected to right-wing extremist organizations. These are the groups who stand to benefit the most from an open confrontation with Hezbollah. Washington needs them to conceal its dirty war; a war that Bush stepped up last week when he authorized the CIA "to take covert action against Hezbollah as part of a secret plan to help the Lebanese government prevent the spread of Iranian influence. Senators and congressmen have been briefed on the classified 'non-lethal presidential finding’ that allows the CIA to provide financial and logistical support for Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora". (UK Telegraph)

Consider this: Siniora is freely violating Lebanese sovereignty to conduct covert operations against the very people (Hezbollah) who stood alone in defending Lebanon from Israeli invasion. Additionally, he is accepting this "assistance" from the United States knowing that it was the Bush administration that provided the laser-guided munitions and cluster-bombs which were used to kill Lebanese nationals just months ago.

And one last thing; despite his promises, Siniora has made no effort to help the poor Shias in the South rebuilt their homes and communities. Much like the victims of Katrina, the Shia have been left to languish in the ruins created by Israel’s relentless bombing raids.

Is it any wonder why Nasrallah and Aoun want to get rid of Siniora?

It should be noted that the Bush administration sees no inconsistency in a policy that supports Sunnis in Lebanon, but Shias in Iraq. The rule of thumb appears to be: "If our actions create greater mayhem and suffering for Muslims, then we are on the right course."

Hezbollah chief, Hassan Nasrallah, has wisely ordered his people to stop their acts of civil disobedience and to get off the streets to avoid further violence. Three Shias were reportedly killed by snipers at the university. Already we can see the familiar tactics which have been used in cities in Iraq.

Nasrallah, is portrayed in the western press as a provocateur, but he has kept the peace for the last 2 months and is committed to preventing another civil war. Just days ago, he told his people, "Even if they kill 1,000 of us, we will not use our weapons against them."

He also added, "We have the political, popular and organizational strength to bring down the unconstitutional government at any time. What has prevented the fall of this government is not the support of the western powers but the opposition’s will to preserve civil peace in the country."

But it’s likely that Nasrallah will not be able to stop the fighting; already events are beyond his control. Washington is preparing to open another front in its ongoing war on terror and is looking for a showdown with Hezbollah. The neoconservative ideal of "creative destruction" is now in full-flower and has extended the conflict from the northern tip of Afghanistan to the southern coast of Somalia swallowing up an immense swath of the Middle East and Central Asia. This is the "total war" the neocons promised when Bush took office. It isn’t civil war, but the calculated destruction of an entire region by the imperial powers.

Edited by Sid Walker

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Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com warns the The Israelis want another go - and that this could be the trigger for a broader assault on Iran.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

The Israelis, stung by their defeat at the hands of Hezbollah, are aching for a rematch. There have been a number of border incidents since the IDF retreated and the blockade was lifted, the most recent – and most brazen – occurring when the Israelis crossed a security fence, purportedly to search for explosives planted by Hezbollah. They could – and did – use this pretext to launch an invasion, and, in the process, level half the country. The Israelis are merely waiting for the right moment, and that moment, I'm afraid, will come fairly soon unless they're reined in by Washington.

This last is highly unlikely, however: indeed, the dynamics run the other way. Last time around, the neocons in the administration reportedly egged the somewhat reluctant Israelis on, and were sorely disappointed when Tel Aviv relented. Next time, they'll go all the way to Beirut – and won't stop until the Americans get to Tehran.

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Contrary to mass media spin at the time, we now learn - as suspected - that the assault on The Lebanon War was planned in advance.

Report from Reuters:

Israeli PM says Lebanon war was pre-planned: report

Thu Mar 8, 2007 9:35AM EST

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has testified he launched last year's war against Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon in line with a contingency plan he approved four months before, the Haaretz daily said on Thursday.

Olmert, under fire for his handling of the inconclusive 34-day war, told a judicial inquiry last month that Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 triggered the plans for a large-scale attack in Lebanon, the Israeli newspaper said.

The inquiry, known as the Winograd Commission, is expected to publish an interim report this month. Haaretz did not say how it had learned the details of Olmert's February 1 testimony.

Many Israelis view Olmert's decision to go to war as a knee-jerk reaction by a leader with little security experience, unlike his predecessor, former general Ariel Sharon.

In testimony apparently aimed at dismissing any notion he acted recklessly, Olmert told the commission he asked army commanders in March 2006 if a contingency plan for military action existed in the event soldiers were abducted along the Lebanon frontier, Haaretz said.

Presented with options, Olmert chose what the newspaper described as a "moderate plan" that included air strikes accompanied by a limited ground operation.

Opposition Likud party lawmaker Yuval Steinitz, who was chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee until mid-May 2006, said the Haaretz report had astounded him.

"None of this ever happened," he told Israel Radio. "There was no intensive preparation for a possible imminent war."

He said Olmert had cut half a billion shekels ($118 million) from the defense budget two months before the conflict, which was not the action of someone who "believes that in the next few months they will react to the next provocation with a war".

Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz have seen their popularity slump since the war, in which 158 Israelis, including 117 soldiers and 41 civilians, were killed and thousands of Hezbollah rockets were fired into the Jewish state.

About 1,200 people were killed in Lebanon, including an estimated 270 Hezbollah guerrillas.

Only 3 percent of Israelis would vote for Olmert if elections were held now, according to a poll released by Israel's Channel 10 television on Wednesday. Olmert has also been dogged by political corruption scandals.

In the Lebanon war, Israel failed to achieve its declared goals of retrieving the two soldiers taken in a cross-border raid, and destroying the Iranian- and Syrian-backed group's rocket arsenal and military capacity.

Haaretz said the United States intervened at the outset of the war to curb the strength of Israel's response and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Israel that Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government should not be undermined.

"Israel understood this to mean Lebanese infrastructure should not be destroyed, even though the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) had originally planned otherwise," Haaretz said.

Israeli bombing destroyed scores of bridges in Lebanon and devastated Hezbollah's strongholds in the mainly Shi'ite Muslim suburbs of Beirut and in the south and east of the country.

A U.N.-backed truce halted hostilities on August 14. Since then Hezbollah guerrillas have made way for Lebanese army troops and an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force to deploy in the south. Olmert has cited the deployments as an Israeli gain in the war.

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