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Opening the gates of hell

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The international community has placed terrorism among its priority concerns worldwide. That is reflected in Resolutions of the United Nations and its Security Council. Individual countries, the USA being chief among them, have also implemented unilateral measures, which have implications not only in their own countries, but also for citizens of other countries who travel to or trade with those countries. It has led to poor countries like ours being forced to have to spend funds which we do not have, to put security systems in place at airports and ports and to update our passport facilities.{{more}}

These actions arise out of the recognition of the need for security of human life, especially to ensure the safety of civilians. Every human being has a fundamental right to life, which must not be wantonly snuffed out because someone or some group has some dispute with another. We all abhor and condemn the 9/11 terror in New York City, irrespective of our views on the cause of it. Equally, we must be prepared to demand justice for the victims of horrendous murders like that of the blowing up of the Cubana plane off Barbados in 1976.

The President of the United States is on record as condemning what he describes as “state-sponsored terrorism”, and has blamed an “axis of evil” for being behind such activities. In the process, some wild and unsubstantiated allegations were made against some states as – Syria, Iran, and even Cuba. The latter is particularly galling since it is US-backed terrorists who blew up the Cubana plane and it is due to US support that the alleged perpetrator of that heinous crime, Luis Posada Carriles, is yet to face justice.

Further, it is amazing that the same country, which has pledged to fight “state-sponsored terriosim”, is now flying in the face of its own “war on terrorism” by giving full support to Israel in its genocidal attacks on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. Readers of this column would daily hear and see for themselves what is happening in these countries. Using the pretext of the kidnapping of one soldier, in the case of Gaza in Palestine, and of an attack on an Israeli army outpost by the militant Palestinian organization, Hezbollah, in the other case, Israel has unleashed its full arsenal on the people of those two countries.

Lebanon, only just recovering from years of civil strife, foreign occupation and interference in its internal affairs, is being systematically bombed to smithereens. In what can only be described as “collective punishment” against the Lebanese people (forbidden in international law), Israel has since July 12 been destroying three airports, the coastal ports, transport and communications infrastructure including bridges and power stations, rendering them unusable and creating misery for the Lebanese people. The civilian population is taking direct hits with over 270 killed, the vast majority of them civilians. This is supposed to be Israel’s response to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has described the Israeli actions as “opening the gates of hell and madness” on his country, while his Minister of Social Affairs, Nayla Moawad said that she was “disgusted with the brutal, disproportionate and murderous activities” of the Israelis. Significantly, neither of them supported the kidnapping of the soldiers and appealed for their release. By contrast, the Israeli leadership has been unapologetic about its actions, justifying them by the need to “teach Hezbollah a lesson”. Its true aims are, however, exposed in the statement of a former Director of National Security in Israel, Major General Giora Eiland, that the action “gives us the possibility of succeeding in something we tried to achieve and failed, both in 1982 and 2000”. Need we say more?

That same international community cannot remain silent while Israel carrries out such wanton acts of mayhem, destruction and murder. Even if we accept its view of retaliation for the kidnapping of its soldiers and the murder of some 13 civilians so far, can that justify the armageddon which is raining down on Lebanon? Is that a reasonable response, proportionate to what Israel has suffered? Is Israeli life the only sacred one on this earth, save American ones, for which its government has demanded exemption from trial for war crimes.

Legal experts point out that Israel’s actions are in direct violation of the laws of war and particularly the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and The Hague Regulations of 1907. They accuse Israel of being subject to prosecution under Article 3 of the War Crimes Act of the International Criminal Court. Just as it is wrong for Hezbollah or Palestinian activists to kill Israeli civilians, so must it be wrong for Israel to brutally occupy Gaza, flagrantly invade Lebanon and subject the Lebanese population to more terror.

We must add our voices to those that stand for justice for all peoples. In our midst we have people of Lebanese/Syrian origin. I offer them my solidarity and urge them to speak out in defence of their country, people and humanity.

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