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Occupied Arab World

The Qana massacre two years later

Abul Fadl

Nestled among picturesque, tranquil hills overlooking the Mediterranean, the southern Lebanese village of Qana once had its moments of joy, sweet memories, and rosy dreams. Two years ago, the Israeli juggernaut made the village the site of a grisly human carnage that forever took away happiness from the lives of its inhabitants. Today, they continue to be absorbed in anguish, grief and bereavement.

The chilling facts of the Qana massacre are well-known. During the early afternoon hours of April 18, 1996, Israeli artillery suddenly began to rain death and fire on the headquarters of the Fijian contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Qana where about 1,000 helpless civilians, mostly women, children and elderly, had taken refuge. When the killing was over, more than a hundred civilians were dead, their bodies charred, disfigured, and/or blown to smithereens. Tens of others, including 15 Fijian soldiers, were injured. The destroyed UN buildings were caked in mangled fragments of human flesh, blood, bones, and clothes, to such an extent that they were ordered to be set on fire by health officials to avoid potential health hazards to the surviving inhabitants of the village.

The pounding of the UNIFIL base in Qana was carried out as part of a massive Israeli bombardment campaign aimed at dislodging the Islamic Resistance from south Lebanon code-named "Operation Grapes of Wrath." The campaign, which was ordered by then-Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, who belongs to the so-called "dovish" camp of the Zionist political establishment, ultimately sought to put pressure on the Lebanese government to quash the Islamic Resistance by deliberately targeting southern Lebanese villages to create a "wave of refugees" northward in the direction of the capital, Beirut, and other northern cities and towns. By striking at civilians in order to make a political impact on an adversary, "Operation Grapes of Wrath" provided yet another proof of the terrorist nature of the Zionist entity.

Similarly, the reaction of the Israeli officials the news of the massacre underscored their terrorist, bloodthirsty and cruel nature. Rather than expressing any sorrow or remorse over the violent death of innocent civilians, Israeli leaders initially tried to lay the blame of the massacre at the door of the Resistance. They alleged that the attack was a retaliation for the firing of Katyusha rockets by resistance fighters from a place located some 300 meters away from the UNIFIL base. However, later on, other Israeli leaders simply dismissed the incident as a mere "mistake" or a result of "human error." This brazen, outright lie provided another display of the Israeli callousness and psychological chutzpah which has always characterized Israeli attitude towards Arab and Muslim life. In the words of Rabbi Yaacov Perrin: "A million dead Arabs are not worth a single Jewish fingernail."

The carnage at Qana was nothing short of a deliberate, premeditated, cold-blooded massacre perpetrated by professional killers. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that proves beyond any doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing. According to a UN report on the incident, two Israeli helicopters and a drone plane flew over the village during the bombardment. Drone planes are usually used for reconnaissance purposes, gathering information and giving directions to artillery batteries. The report also said that the allegation that "the shelling of the camp was a result of security or procedural mistakes (is) unlikely." Indeed, this Israeli justification for the bombing stands on thin logical ice. One might have reasonably accepted the Israeli allegation of a "human error" or "mistake" had only a few shells hit the UNIFIL base. But to say that tens of shells have mistakenly fallen on the base is ludicrous to say the least!

Like their brethren in Bosnia, the refugees at the UNIFIL base in Qana paid with their blood, souls and limbs to find out how deluded they were when they assumed that the blue helmets of United Nations troops could provide them with safety and protection from their enemy’s brutality. Moreover, the failure of the United Nations to take action against the authors of the Qana massacre would hold the international organization accountable, at least, for betrayal of trust; at worst, for negligence in upholding the moral principle of the sanctity of human life.

By the same token, the Qana massacre highlighted American hypocrisy and complicity in Zionist terrorism against Muslim and Christian (among the victims of Qana were a number of Christian women and children) civilians in Lebanon. The United States attempted to suppress the United Nations report condemning Israel for committing the Qana massacre and revealing the details of the Israeli attack on the UNIFIL base. The insistence of former UN secretary-general Butrus Butrus Ghali on releasing the report eventually cost him his job.

Rather than condemning and ostracizing Israel as a rogue terrorist entity, the United States, not only turns a blind eye to acts of terrorism perpetrated by the Zionist entity but also props it up with generous military, material, financial, political, technical and other types of support. By shielding the perpetrators of the Qana massacre, American leaders revealed the emptiness of their claptrap on justice and international order. And, like their Zionist counterparts, they also have blood on their hands.

Muslimedia: April 16-30, 1998

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 4

Dhu al-Hijjah 19, 14181998-04-16

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