"I take the occasion to reaffirm the right of Lebanese to the wholeness and sovereignty of the country, the right of the Israelis to live in peace in their state and the right of the Palestinians to have a free and sovereign country," the pope said.
The pontiff expressed special closeness to the "defenseless civilian populations, unjustly hit in a conflict in which there are only victims."
As Alexandra and others insinuate, when civilians look like soldiers, they are fair game. The murder of children is just a Hezbollah ploy. If the Israelis kill a few children, its still Hezbollah's fault: merely a PR game. And then we are asked to have as much outrage about Israeli civilians as Lebanese. Well, I do. I have an equal amount for each individual - at this point more than 400 for the Lebanese, many of whom are civilians, and for the 50 Israelis, most of whom are military - who have been killed. I admit, to say, "well, because a rocket came from that house, those children are fair game" is to show a loss of a moral compass.
In the end, the alliances are pretty complicated. We're supporting a bunch of Shia in Iraq who were trained in Iran; Hamas, which once cast out of the West Bank, became connected to Hezbollah and the Iranians, in spite of their initial differences. And even now, those al-Quaeda leaders who were busy murdering Shia in Iraq are showing sympathy for the "Lebanese" [they can't quite support... the Shia]. Israel has played right into Iran's hands, doing what noone else could do: unite people who hate each other against it by bombing civilians.
If the US and Israel had decided to treat Hamas like an elected government; if they had offered Fateh realistic carrots for creating viable institutions within the West Bank; if they had built the concrete fence on the internationally recognized borders rather than by taking Palestinian farms; if they had discussed with the Palestinians how they would leave Gaza; if the administration had not supported Hussein against Iran; if we had not supported Bin Laden against the Soviet Union; and if we had at one point supported democracy in Iran, perhaps things might have been a bit different. Openly negotiating directly with Iran and Syria would not infringe Israeli sovereignty. It might lead to a temporary peace - and a temporary existing peace now is better than an imaginary peace in the future. These are merely formal decisions that open up the possibility for peace with justice and mutual respect.
As it is, Israel just confirms to the Arab world its callousness towards Arab life; that as neighbors, they are dangerous and jittery ones. But worse, for Israel, a small guerrilla force has demonstrated the limits of the Israeli military. Israel is shown to the world to be mean, and weak. Sadly.
and finally, Jonathan Cook reminds us what happened:
But, if we cast our minds back, that is not how the "Middle East crisis," as TV channels now describe it, started. It is worth recapping those early events (and I won't document the long history of Lebanese suffering at Israel's hands that preceded it) before they become entirely shrouded in the mythology being peddled by Horowitz and others.
Early on July 12, Hezbollah launched a raid against an army border post, in what was in the best interpretation a foolhardy violation of Israeli sovereignty. In the fighting, the Shi'ite militia killed three soldiers and captured two others, while Hezbollah fired a few mortars at border areas in what the Israeli army described at the time as "diversionary tactics." As a result of the shelling, five Israelis were "lightly injured," with most needing treatment for shock, according to the Ha'aretz newspaper.
Israel's immediate response was to send a tank into Lebanon in pursuit of the Hezbollah fighters (its own foolhardy violation of Lebanese sovereignty). The tank ran over a land mine, which exploded, killing four soldiers inside. Another soldier died in further clashes inside Lebanon as his unit tried to retrieve the bodies.
Rather than open diplomatic channels to calm the violence down and start the process of getting its soldiers back, Israel launched bombing raids deep into Lebanese territory the same day. Given Israel's worldview that it alone has a right to project power and fear, that might have been expected.
But the next day Israel continued its rampage across the south and into Beirut, where the airport, roads, bridges, and power stations were pummeled. We now know from reports in the U.S. media that the Israeli army had been planning such a strike against Lebanon for at least a year.