“And when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.”
In an area where conflict has become a way of life it can be a difficult task to try and figure out what's going on. For the most part, people that I talk to in the 'States about this aren't very clear about it. There seems to be a somewhat sizeable chunk of them that still think that one side is right and the other is wrong. Many of them still believe that God gave the Israeli's that land. (It was Ralph Bunche, and the UN, that did it, actually.) Hell, My Freaky Darlings, I barely believe in a God, anymore. That's not meant as a proclamation of Atheism, but rather, as a reaffirmation that no one is going to put one over on me.
The media here has the usual Pro-Zionist slant to most everything coming out of there, right now. There has been much coverage of people evacuating, cramming into cars, and military aircraft, or chopper. The ones on boats got particular attention, as they were the pretty people.
Loud-mouthed, GerneriChristian leaders are thumping their Bibles from their pulpits, proclaiming that the End Times are upon us, and the cracked-pots that follow them are rejoicing with much hallelujah-ing and giving of money to Israel. On the flip side, we’ve got bloggers flooding the internet with news, words, and images of destruction, devastation, death, and despair of Lebanon.
It may not be the start of the Apocalypse, but the shit has surely hit the fan.
With everything happening so fast, it’s sometimes hard to realize how they’ve reached this point. Let’s take a look at some of the events that led up to the sorry, sad, deadly situation going on right now.
Here’s a map to help:
On Saturday, June 24, 2006, Israeli Defense Forces abducted two Palestinian civilians, a doctor and his brother, in Al Shouka, near Rafah. They have not been heard from since. This is not uncommon in the Occupied Territories.
On Sunday, June 25, 2006, Palestinian militants crossed into Israel through a tunnel from the Gaza Strip, and attacked an IDF post, killing two Israeli Defense Force soldiers and wounding four others. A wounded, 19-year-old, Corporal, Gilad Shalit, was captured.
On Monday, June 26, 2006, his captors offered to exchange Shalit if Israel would release all female Palestinian prisoners, and all prisoners under 18.
At 11:51PM, on Tuesday, June 27th, 2006, Israel launched a full scale attack on Gaza. Israeli fighter jets destroyed bridges and, at 1:42 AM, took out the Gazan power plant. (This was, incidentally, insured by the US government and will cost American taxpayers some 48 million dollars to rebuild) At 2:24 AM, Israeli tanks and troops moved in to occupy the area east of Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the aim of these attacks was "not to mete out punishment but rather to apply pressure so that the abducted soldier will be freed. We want to create a new equation: freeing the abducted soldier in return for lessening the pressure on the Palestinians."
On June 28th, 2006, Israeli forces launched search & rescue operations in Khan Yunis. David Siegel, spokesman at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. said that "Israel did everything it could in exhausting all diplomatic options and gave Mahmoud Abbas the opportunity to return the kidnapped Israeli... This operation can be terminated immediately, conditioned on the release of Gilad Shalit".
That same day Palestinians fired a barrage of Qassam missiles at Southern Israel, and, for the first time, a katyusha-style rocket. Few serious casualties were reported.
On July 1st, 2006, in the midst of continuing Israeli attacks, the Palestinians raised the ante by asking for the release of 1,000 additional prisoners, and a cessation to the assault on Gaza, but, still, the Israeli operation continued, killing and injuring several. Reports came in from the Rafah border crossing of deaths due to Israel’s refusal to allow anyone in or out. Israeli authorities threaten that the "sky will fall" if Shalit is harmed.
On July 3rd, 2006, the Palestinians issued a 24-hour ultimatum for Israel to meet their demands; however, a few hours after this, Israel officially announced that "there will be no negotiations to release prisoners." Prisoner exchanges have been a regular practice there over the last several years.
For the next 9 days Israel carried out ever more devastating attacks on civilians in Gaza, primarily around the Rafah area, where they they believed the captive to be held. Again, scores of civilians were killed and injured, and vital infrastructure in Gaza destroyed.
Then, on July 12, 2006, with Israel once again threatening a long term occupation of the Gaza Strip, the armed wing of Hezbollah launched Operation Truthful Promise, in regards to a promise made by their spiritual leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, to capture Israeli soldiers and trade them for the remaining Lebanese prisoners held by Israel, taken during their occupation of the region. .
In an early morning diversionary tactic, Hezbollah launched Katyusha rockets and mortar shells along the Israeli/Lebanese border, allowing Hezbollah commandos cover to enter and attack two armored IDF humvees near the village of Zar’it. This attack killed four Israeli soldiers. In this attack, two more IDF soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were captured. Four more IDF soldiers were killed when theur Merkava Mk. II tank was hit by a 200 kg IED while pursuing the attackers.
For the last several days, Israel has been carrying out “Operation Change of Direction” (renamed from “Operation Just Reward”) as a retaliatory strike at Lebanon. This started with a series of devastating air raids on bridges and roads all around in the south of Lebanon and around the southern suburbs of Beirut. Also, they took out the Beirut International airport, effectively stranding civilians in a war zone. A naval blockade of the country has kept vital supplies from reaching a beleaguered Lebanese populace, and brutal cross-border raids by IDF tanks, troops, and APC’s along the border, have driven thousands of people north of the Litani River.
Hezbollah has continued an extensive rocket bombardment on cities in northern Israel, including Haifa, Nahariyya, and Nazareth. Lebanese government officials have tried to distance themselves from Hezbollah but have not openly condemned them. As Israeli attacks have grown more frequent and deadlier, Lebanese government officials have urgently called for UN condemnation on Israeli actions, and have asked for help to bring about a ceasefire.
This is by no means a complete timeline, nor does it take into account much of the posturing and rhetoric that has gone on with leaders on both sides, as well as around the world. More has happened since then and, I’m sure, more will continue happening. And, of course, I have more to say about it, but I’ll leave you with that for now, because, really, it’s all too much to chew on at once. For those not accustomed to the taste of Middle Eastern politics it’s very easy to choke and gag. Until then, though, My Freaky Darlings, Watch the news, Stay informed, and Watch your backs!