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#Histoire d'1 des nombreux crimes IMPUNIS de l'Etat d' #israel .Ici au #Liban ds un village:106 civils tués

#Histoire d'1 des nombreux crimes IMPUNIS de l'Etat d' #israel .Ici au #Liban ds un village:106 civils tués | News in english | Scoop.it

#Histoire d'1 des nombreux crimes IMPUNIS de l'Etat d' #israel .Ici au #Liban ds un village:106 civils tué, massacrées, atomisées en 20 mn #ONU #justice 

Wednesday 6 July 2016 10:06 UTC
Last update: 
Thursday 7 July 2016 12:07 UTC

With attempts to get justice blocked, residents are trying to preserve the memory of 106 people killed in an Israeli raid on a UNIFIL compound

QANA, Lebanon - Atop a hill overlooking the historical land of Galilee, in a town where Jesus is believed to have transformed water into wine, the skeleton of an Israeli tank stands intact.

Behind it a church lies in ruins, its interior completely gutted. The floor is still carpeted with remnants of broken glass, burnt pieces of cloth, rusty bits of artillery and wooden poles that once supported the roof.

A simple and linear monument facing the adjacent road bears the names of the 106 people who lost their lives in the span of five minutes 20 years ago when Israel bombed the headquarters of the Fijian battalion of the UN interposition forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) – an act that has gone down in history as the Qana massacre.

At that time, more than 800 civilians were in the compound, seeking refuge from Israel’s operation “Grapes of Wrath” - a 16-day attack on south Lebanon with the declared intent of crushing Hezbollah.

Jamil (Jimmy) Salame, a 49-year-old father of three, was inside when the bombs started to fall that bloody April.

Limping heavily on one leg, Salame trots towards visitors as they cross the threshold of the memorial site. As the self-proclaimed gatekeeper, he spends every day of the week recounting visitors the same story he has been telling for two decades.

“Every day on the radio we got news of a new village being shelled by Israel, so many people from the area came to Qana to find shelter in the UN compound,” says Salame, who at the time was working as a handyman for the Fijian battalion.

“It was little before 2pm on a Thursday when we heard the shelling getting closer and closer. We all knew Israel would bomb Qana, but we thought our families would be safe inside the UN compound.”

They were proved terribly wrong.

“All I could see was fire and blood. I saw corpses and injured people – some were missing a leg, an arm, an eye,” he says.

In a pouch strapped around his waist, he still keeps proof of what he witnessed, freely showing grizzly pictures he managed to take on the day of the massacre. Salame says that, despite the shock and the pain caused by the shrapnel that ripped through his arm and leg, he knew he had to record what he saw so that one day the world would know what happened here.

As he flicks through the photo book, the images of bodies torn apart or lying lifeless on the blood-soaked ground starkly illustrate the scale of destruction. 

“I still see it before my eyes as if it was happening now,” says Salame. “These images have been in my mind every day for 20 years.”

For him, the UN compound had been a second home. His father abandoned the family when he was a toddler, leaving his mother to provide for four children. 

He started working as a handyman for the Fijian battalion at the age of 20 to help his family and quickly developed a tight relationship with the international troops who were first mandated in 1978 to monitor the peace between Israel and Lebanon after Israel invaded following a string of raids by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).  

“I learnt English with them, word after word, and they gave me food to bring home,” he says. “They were like my brothers.”

While he does not know how to read or write English or Arabic, Salame has other tools to keep the memory alive.

“I want to tell everyone what happened here because no one talks about it in other countries,” he says. “They say the shelling lasted 16 days, but to us each day felt like a year. I want everyone to know what Israel did, it shall not be forgotten.”

A village destroyed

Israeli officers claim the shelling was caused by a computer error while attempting to target Hezbollah fighters firing in the proximity of the Fijian base.

The technical survey conducted by the UN, however, concluded that it was “unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of gross technical and/or procedural errors.”

Contrary to repeated denials by Israeli officials, a video confirmed the presence of two helicopters and a remotely piloted vehicle above the area of Qana before the attack, seemingly contradicting Israel’s claim that it was unaware of the presence of civilians in the UN compound.

Much to the fury of residents, both the UN investigation report and the video were at first concealed due to intense political pressure from the United States and Israel. However, they were quickly leaked to The Independent by UNIFIL, sparking widespread outrage.

In 2005, a group of survivors filed a lawsuit in an American court against former Israeli Army chief of staff Moshe Yaalon. The United States District Court dismissed the complaint, claiming that Yaalon was entitled to immunity under the Foreign Sovereignty Immunity Act.

The misery of losing 100 lives in a close-knitted community, combined with frustrations over their inability to get international justice, means that twenty years on wounds have been slow to heal and many of the victim’s relatives still cannot find closure.  

The trauma was further compounded when 10 years ago, Israel again launched a war against Hezbollah in 2006, devastating much of south Lebanon. Qana was hit once more and 28 people were killed in a single airstrike on 30 July 2006.

“Everyone here does their bit,” says Imad Sbeity, a Qana resident. “Some clean the memorial, others drive the tourist bus, and so on.”

Salame has stayed on as a tour guide on a volunteer basis for decades, living off visitor’s tips and says that no matter how hard times get, he will keep doing his job. Salame feels it is important to keep telling people about the horrors that happened in the village which remains a tourist destination for the faithful who believe Jesus performed his first miracle here.  

“He has three children and gets no salary from the municipality, all he does is on a voluntary basis,” Sbeity told MEE.

Many of the survivors – some of whom lost more than one relative - continue to congregate at the cemetery every week to mourn the dead. 

But few lost as much as Sadallah Balhas. The Israeli attack in 1996 killed 31 members of his family and also cost him his eye. Before passing away a few years ago, he was well-known for wearing a pendant with pictures of his deceased relatives and acting as a key driving force behind the lawsuit against Yaalon. 

“That is not something anyone can forget nor, I dare say, would want to forget,” says Nicholas Blanford, a journalist who witnessed the immediate aftermath of the shelling and who wrote a recent piece to mark its 20th anniversary.

“I think there will always be a bond among those who experienced the massacre, whether the civilian survivors, the UNIFIL troops or the journalists.”

What I saw that day “was the most harrowing and traumatic experience I have had. I found it hard to walk into butchers' shops because the smell of blood and fresh meat would take me straight back to Qana,” he adds.

The memory was so harrowing that Blanford says that for years he would watch a video of the massacre on its anniversary.

“It was not the images that upset me - the images have always been there in my mind. It was the sounds - the screams, the wailing, that would move me most and take me back to Qana,” he says.

As Salame locks the door to the memorial behind him for the day, he says that he will never forget the tragedies that befell his small but ancient village.

“We cannot change what happened,” says Salame. “The only thing left to do is prevent our stories from going unheard.”

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URGENT PRESS RELEASE from Tracy Chamoun about #Syria #Lebanon #LiberalDemocratsLebanon #Liban #Syrie #Siria #Libano

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Juan Carlos Hernandez's insight:

URGENT PRESS RELEASE from Tracy Chamoun about #Syria #Lebanon #LiberalDemocratsLebanon #Liban #Syrie #Siria #Libano

 

FROM:           Tracy Chamoun

                      President

                                  The Liberal Democrats Lebanon www.ldplb.org

                      September 6, 2013.

 

Concerning the impact on Lebanon of the possibility of a USA attack on Syria.

 

TRACY CHAMOUN is in South Florida for a few days. For more information or an interview please contact Robert Weneck @ 954-683-1518 concepsconsult@aol.com.

 

--------------------------------------------------

 

What will be the impact in Lebanon and the region if the USA decides to attack Syria?

 

First of all, violence is never a solution. Because of the alleged use of chemical weapons the USA is going to create a domino effect of retaliatory violence in the Middle East that is unprecedented. It is impossible to contain these situations and any claims to the contrary are pure folly.

 

If the USA bombs Syria, they will run the danger of destroying Syria just as they did Iraq, leaving it open for perpetual terrorist attacks where thousands of innocent people may be killed as a result of their actions. Al Qaeda and Jabhat-Al-Nusra, who are the prime terrorist organizations posing as rebels in Syria, will be delighted by the support that they will get from the USA if it attacks Syria. They will also be emboldened to continue their attacks in Lebanon.

 

In addition, the number of Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries of Lebanon and Jordan will swell to such a level that it will gravely endanger the stability of those countries.

 

The international consequences of such unilateral action by the USA, despite the popular demand that America should not get involved, and the lack of international support either from its allies, including NATO and even the Pope, will bring about dangerous consequences against Israel and Americans all over the world. This administration is putting both their citizens and Israel at great risk if they go ahead and bomb Syria.

 

Let us talk about the sudden escalation of violence in the past month and the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime?

 

This chemical weapons incident came right after the failed meeting between President Putin of Russia and the head of Saudi intelligence Prince Bandar. At the time Bandar threatened a violent outcome if Russia failed to cooperate to bring down the regime in Syria. Since then the chemical weapons incident has been used as a trigger to force military intervention.  We were all completely misled once by the US administration’s misrepresentations about weapons of mass destruction to justify war, and it would seem that they are trying to play us again.

 

What are the reasons behind this war in Syria? People call it a civil uprising - is it that? Or is this an organized attempt to topple a regime by foreign vested interests?

 

The initial uprising may have been popular in Syria but its progression was not. Since the outset, embedded and internationally trained elements from different radical Islamic factions were positioned to escalate and degrade the situation leading to a civil war.

 

There are many reasons why Syria was targeted, and different interests have converged to finance and perpetuate this deadly war. The USA and Israel’s objectives were to target Iran and Hezbollah. The weakest link was Syria, and so Syria became expendable.

 

The Gulf state of Qatar had its own agenda and took it upon itself to finance the eradication of the Syrian regime. In 2009 Bashar El-Assad refused to sign a hugely lucrative exclusive contract with Qatar that would supply a gas pipeline to Europe. Assad refused because it would have undercut their chief ally Russia who controlled that supply. Since then, Qatar has been on a mission to replace the Assad regime by financing the rebels and supplying them with weapons.

 

The Saudis have also channeled Jihadist and Salafist elements to fight the regime. In the meantime, Syria is being destroyed and its population devastated.

 

What is going on now in Syria?

 

Today the Syrian people, including all the Alawites and most of the Sunnis, are realizing that they are the victims of an organized international plot against them. A recent survey by NATO showed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is winning the war against the foreign–backed opposition. It stresses that 70 percent of the Syrians support their leader and would vote for him again in the up-coming elections. Anything that you hear otherwise is pure media fabrication.

 

There can be only one solution for Syria, which would be a diplomatic one. Any attempt at more violence at this stage to tip the balance in favor of the rebels, as they call them, will play entirely into the hands of Al-Qaeda.

 

What about Lebanon in all this?

 

Today Lebanon is sheltering over 1.5 million refugees from Syria. This is putting a huge security strain on the nation. It must be said that, for the West, these refugees are all portrayed as escaping from the regime. This is not true. At least half of the refugees are escaping from the “rebel” forces that are massacring their villages and occupying their homes. Among those refugees, there are at least 150,000 militant Islamic Jihadist rebels who are now operating freely in Lebanon and being financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These Syrian terrorist rebels have already claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians in the past few months.

 

Lebanon is at the mercy of the outcome in Syria. In the past the relationship of the Syrian regime to Lebanon was one of fear and repression. But the Christians of Lebanon, who are a minority in the Middle East, like the Allawites, understand that Bashar El-Assad is very different from his father and that ultimately he is the only guarantor of their safety at this point against the Islamic Jihadist tsunami that his heading their way. These terrorist rebels are slaughtering whole Christian towns in Syria. Nobody talks about this. Women and children are being massacred in the most disgusting and barbaric ways. It is fair to say that the West has demonized Bashar El-Assad for defending his country against terrorists. What would America or Israel have done in his place?

 

On the one hand, the USA seems to support the un-democratic overthrow of the Egyptian president by their military to fight the rise of militant Islam in Egypt, and on the other hand it condemns Bashar El-Assad’s use of the military to fight Islamic terrorists who want to overthrow the government in his country. This is a double standard, and I hope that the West will understand that this war in Syria is not about one man, but it is about the dominance of extremist political interests and economic gains in the region. It is imperative to end the violence because war is never a solution. Only the people suffer and lives are destroyed for nothing.

 

TRACY CHAMOUN is in South Florida for a few days. For more information or an interview please contact Robert Weneck @ 954-683-1518 concepsconsult@aol.com

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Poppen Report's curator insight, September 6, 2013 11:52 PM

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1031273

Patrick Williams's curator insight, September 9, 2013 10:33 PM

This topic has lots of interesting facts in it. It is a very trending topic all around the United States.