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The Militant this week
El Militante
Tel Aviv expands war throughout Lebanon
1,000 dead; 3,000 wounded; 1 million displaced
Socialist Workers Party candidates:
Israeli forces out of Lebanon!
U.S. troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan!

SWP supporters complete ballot drive in Iowa
Nat’l conference in Chicago to discuss actions for legalization of immigrants
Coal bosses, gov’t in Kentucky use drug testing to blame miners for lack of job safety
UN council to Iran: end production of fuel for nuclear plants by Aug. 31
Pushed by U.S. gov’t, Security Council threatens sanctions
Serious injuries increase along with deaths in mines

A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 70/No. 31August 21, 2006


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(lead article)
Tel Aviv expands war throughout Lebanon
1,000 dead; 3,000 wounded; 1 million displaced
AFP/Getty Images/Ahmad Shalha
Red Cross employees and other Lebanese remove the bodies of some 30 farm workers of Syrian origin who died August 4 in an Israeli bombing raid. It reduced to rubble a warehouse at a farm near Qaa, northern Lebanon, in the Bekaa Valley close to Syria.

August 9—The Israeli invasion of Lebanon is reaching into every region of the country. In the fourth week of the assault Israeli air attacks destroyed key bridges and highways in a predominantly Christian section of Beirut and killed more than two dozen Syrian migrant farm workers in the northeast of the country. Tel Aviv’s invasion force in the south has grown to 10,000, but their advance has been slowed by continuing resistance in the border towns.

Today the Israeli security cabinet approved a broad expansion of the ground war to the Litani River, about 18 miles deep into Lebanon. In the days leading up to the decision, Israeli forces dropped leaflets on the south Lebanese city of Tyre, saying, “Every vehicle, whatever its nature, which travels south of the Litani will be bombed on suspicion of transporting rockets and arms.”

Nine of the 12 Israeli cabinet members voted in favor of the stepped-up ground campaign. “We must act aggressively and not abandon aerial activities,” said Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, one of three ministers who abstained. Referring to weapons the Lebanese group Hezbollah has fired back at Israel, he said, “Whole villages should be removed from the air when we have verified that Katyusha rockets are being fired from there.”

“They have struck every major bridge in Lebanon, cutting the country into pieces,” Lebanese public works and transport minister Mohammad Safadi told the Beirut Daily Star August 5.

The Israeli assault has killed about 1,000 people, wounded 3,000, and turned nearly a million into refugees, Lebanese officials say.

It has also sparked growing protests around the world. More than 100,000 marched against the invasion in Baghdad, Iraq, August 4. Over the next days tens of thousands more marched in other cities (see photo story in this issue).

In spite of the massive destruction it has caused, however, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has been unable to carry out its goal of “degrading” the fighting capacity of the Hezbollah militia. Israeli troops are now engaged in a battle for control of some 20 villages in the south, the Associated Press reported August 4, but continue to meet fierce resistance. Hezbollah has also increased its rocket fire into Israel from about 100 per day to about 200 on some days.

On August 6 a Hezbollah rocket struck a village in northern Israel, killing 12 army reservists preparing to join the invasion. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported August 8 that 65 Israeli soldiers and 39 civilians have been killed since July 12 in the war.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and French governments are bringing before the United Nations Security Council a resolution calling for “the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations.” It allows for the continued presence of Israeli forces in Lebanon prior to the stationing of an “international force” in the south.

The Lebanese cabinet on August 7 rejected the UN resolution. It voted unanimously to send 15,000 troops to the border area and that Israeli forces should withdraw from southern Lebanon. The commander of Israel’s northern military, Gen. Alon Friedman, said that “regardless of any cease-fire” the IDF will continue “operations to clean up southern Lebanon and to meet the goals we have set ourselves.”  
Tel Aviv targets all of Lebanon
The Israeli government began its air assault July 12 following Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers. In exchange for their release, Hezbollah has demanded freedom for some of the thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese held prisoner by Tel Aviv.

“From the start, Israel’s deployment of its armed forces has been problematic,” argued Ze’ev Schiff, military analyst for the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, in an August 5 column. He bemoaned “the gravity of the error Israel made in not immediately launching, alongside the aerial attacks, an extensive, multipronged ground campaign…in southern Lebanon.”

The Israeli air force struck the predominantly Maronite Christian suburbs north of Beirut August 4, destroying several bridges and disrupting transport with the port city of Tripoli. “Today’s destruction has given us a severe problem and it cuts off our only lifeline for humanitarian relief,” Robin Lodge of the World Food Program told the Washington Post.

When the IDF invaded in 1982 it depended heavily for intelligence and military support on an alliance with a rightist faction based in the privileged Maronite Christian minority. Today, popular sentiment across Lebanese society is against the Israeli assault. The Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir has condemned the invasion.

Israeli warplanes hit a farm August 4 in the Bekaa Valley near Syria, killing 33 farm workers, mostly Syrian Kurds, who were reportedly loading fruit onto trucks, local officials told Reuters.

The ground invasion has so far centered on attacks on towns in a relatively narrow strip some three miles deep into Lebanon. “More than three weeks into the fighting,” AP reports, “six Israeli brigades—or roughly 10,000 troops—were locked in battle with hundreds of Hezbollah guerrillas in about 20 towns and villages in south Lebanon.”

Many in the south remain to fight the invasion. “Whatever strength we have…we will put it in place and resist Israel if they try to occupy south Lebanon again,” Ahmad Basbishi, a shopkeeper in the southern town of Sarafan, told Asia Times.

“The mood in our area is changing,” Georges Haddad, an attorney in predominantly Christian East Beirut, told the Militant. “People are saying we are in solidarity with the resistance but there are many issues that need to be resolved after the Israeli campaign ends…that we need to have input on such vital issues as when to have military operations against a foreign power, that one party cannot have exclusive rights on this.”

The support for Hezbollah across the region has caused unease among bourgeois forces in the Middle East who seek to preserve sectarian divisions. A top Sunni Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdullah bin Jibreen, for example, issued a religious edict August 5 that states, “It is not acceptable to support this rejectionist party [Hezbollah], and one should not fall under its command or pray for its victory.”

Hezbollah was formed in the 1980s and gained support for its leading role in the resistance to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Holding two cabinet positions in the Lebanese government, it is a capitalist party that calls for an “Islamic Republic.” Its name means “Party of God” and it is backed by the Syrian and Iranian governments.

“The Israelis seem to have accomplished certain political goals,” noted Haddad in East Beirut. “These include the concessions made by Hezbollah when in the last cabinet meeting they accepted the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese army troops, something that had been rejected until now. And also their agreement in principle that UN troops be deployed in the south of the country once Israeli troops withdraw.”

At the same time as it has been carrying out its assault on Lebanon, Tel Aviv has not let up on its attacks in the Gaza Strip. The death toll since the IDF began attacks on the Palestinian people there on June 25 has now reached 175, according to UN reports. The Israeli government has imprisoned about 40 members of the Palestinian parliament and cabinet, most of them members of the governing party Hamas. On August 7 Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank arrested Aziz Dweik, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament.

Georges Mehrabian in Athens, Greece, contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Socialist Workers Party candidates: Israeli forces out of Lebanon! U.S. troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan!
UN council to Iran: end production of fuel for nuclear plants by Aug. 31
Pushed by U.S. gov’t, Security Council threatens sanctions

Tens of thousands in London protest Israeli war on Lebanon

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