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After Qana - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Are we condemned to live a continuous cycle of bloodshed and massacres? Will military rationale maintain its control over everything else?

Yet again, we are facing death: new pictures of children torn to shreds by Israeli bombs, pictures of dust and ash, pain and suffering. Has anguish become our sole occupation?

Yet again, we condemn and protest against Israel’s barbaric military machine, which shows no mercy towards innocent women and children, who could only hide in their basement because they could not afford the exuberant fees Taxi’s were charging to Tyre .

What crime did these wretched children and women commit? They were not Hezbollah members nor did they pledge allegiance to Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah.

What sin did the children of Qana commit? They didn’t kidnap the two Israeli soldiers in a daring raid across the blue line which took everyone by surprise and prompted

Lebanon’s prime minister Fouad Siniora to announce, “We are not responsible for this operation and had no knowledge of it.” But Israel’s avenging desires have been let loose and have sowed death and fear across Lebanon.

What did these children do wrong? What is their fault, as the sought shelter from the might of Israeli bombs?

Depressingly, a solution still appears to be far away… a ceasefire might be more likely but time is needed to deploy the international force. No one can guarantee that, after the international community intervenes to extinguish the fires of Lebanon , that a new fire will erupt, followed by an internal Lebanese discussion on the role of Hezbollah and its weapons, followed by yet another episode of “resistance” and so forth!

It is important to go back in time a little and revive our memory. Israel ’s presence in the region is undisputable. It is an internationally recognized country and one that predates other countries. Arab governments have, in the past, openly declared their intention to “throw it out into the sea”. At the same time, they have sought to negotiate with it about their occupied territories.

Perhaps this stark truth is not music to the ears of those who support an open-ended revolution, but this doesn’t change facts on the grounds. Those who are capable of throwing out Israel into the sea should do so!

I mention this to demonstrate that the fight against Israel and attempts to regain Arab land have occurred on more than one occasion, without any success.

In April 1996, after the first Qana massacre, an agreement was put in place to stop the targeting civilians on both sides. Earlier that month, on 11 April, Israel launched operation Grapes of Wrath and targeted Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley and Beirut’s southern suburbs. Prior to that, an Israeli bomb in the village of Braachit killed three children. Hezbollah responded the next day by bombing the Galilee. Israel then launched a major offensive and a week later, the first Qana massacre occurred, when the UN compound in the southern village was shelled on 18 April.

Three years before that in 1993, Israel had also waged a war to protect its northern territory and launched hundreds of air strikes under the name of Operation Accountability. At the time, Israel’s prime minister Yitzhak Rabin said the aim was to protect Israel from Hezbollah’s Katyusha rockets.

In 2006, however, the situation is different. This time, Hezbollah started the confrontation by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. Once more, innocent civilians are stuck in the middle.

Despite the country’s attachment to military solutions, Israel’s political convictions can at times, sway. For examples, in 1998, the security cabinet voted to accept UN Resolution 425, which was adopted in 1978 after the “Litani Operation”, when Israeli invaded south Lebanon.

Unlike its predecessors, who ignored international resolutions, the Israeli government in 1998 decided to implement the UN’s decision, if the Lebanese government accepted to guarantee the safety of its northern border and expand its control over all Lebanese territory. This opportunity, supported by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan , was rejected by the Lebanese government, under Syria tutelage.

Our history of self-inflicted harm is depressing. Israel is a country, which is based on protecting itself by military force, as it believes this frightens the Arabs around it. Of course, Israel is flawed. But, what about us? We have wasted many chances while Israel has maintained its economic prosperity and continued to develop.

From Abdul Nasser’s war in 1952 to the six-day war in 1967, the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and most recently Nasrallah’s folly, we have entered into one military adventure after another, blinded by the propaganda of resistance or jihad, without any opportunity for neutrality!

What about peace, the economy, education, development, international relations, employment opportunities? What about life? All this is postponed, marginalized and relegated in favor of the cause.

Will this cycle of death and destruction continue? Will the problem continue to be postponed instead of being solved…Will a third Qana massacre occur?

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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