portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts global

imperialism & war

Qana 1996, an Israeli stigma to be continued

However, their yearning to color another blue sky started to vanish at
five past twelve on the 18th of April 1996, when an Israeli shell
targeted the UN post's courtyard. The panicked families went into
hangars for shelter . It was not long before rounds of Israeli
phosphoric shells put an end to the fright and astonishment of more
than a hundred men, women and children. That was Israel's notorious
Qana massacre that stunned the world....
Qana 1996, an Israeli stigma to be continued
al manar tv news

Printing Date: 4/17/2007

 http://www.manartv.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=15474&language=en

In April 1996, small children were telling each other how they missed
their color books at school, older ones were just happy to be in a UN
safe haven away from the new Israeli offensive against Lebanon dubbed
"Grapes of Wrath." They fled from several southern towns to the UNIFIL
post in Qana believing they will be safe.

However, their yearning to color another blue sky started to vanish at
five past twelve on the 18th of April 1996, when an Israeli shell
targeted the UN post's courtyard. The panicked families went into
hangars for shelter . It was not long before rounds of Israeli
phosphoric shells put an end to the fright and astonishment of more
than a hundred men, women and children. That was Israel's notorious
Qana massacre that stunned the world. Yet it was not the only one on
this black day. Earlier that same day, a nine-member family was
sleeping in a house in the southern town of Nabatiyeh. Ten Israeli
missiles were enough to put the whole family including a three-day old
baby girl to an eternal sleep.

These two Israeli massacres were the latest in the aggression that
began eight days earlier and intensified as Israel realized it had
failed in its campaign to crush Hezbollah and needed to pressure
Lebanon and its allies to make a ceasefire understanding.

Israel needed to get rid of the July 1993 understanding that put the
conflict between occupation forces and the resistance in its absolute
military form, excluding the civilians from military operations.
Moreover, then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Perez was accused by the
Likud and his own Labor parties of helplessness in dealing with the
Lebanese resistance attacks. Perez was facing election before the
summer of 1996. With an American blessing, he exploited the
international sympathy with Israel in the wake of the Palestinian
resistance attacks. This sympathy was highlighted by the political
conclusion of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit on the 13th of March 1996,
which gave Israel full rein to crush resistance forces in Palestine
and Lebanon; a plan was set.



The beginning of the war



Israeli occupation forces opened artillery fire at the southern
village of Yater and killed several people. It was the first fruit of
the Israeli plot, Grapes of Wrath. Bit by bit, yet in a fast pace,
Israeli artillery fire and air raids expanded to reach the Bekaa
region and southern populated areas. The Israeli fire was accompanied
by a psychological warfare assumed by the (Voice of the South) radio,
controlled by the pro-Israeli militias of chief collaborator Antoine
Lahed. Beirut's southern suburbs were targeted with four laser-guided
missiles near Hezbollah's Shoura council announcing the beginning of a
fierce war. The party's Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah
announced that Hezbollah will retaliate to the Israeli aggression by
bombing settlements in northern occupied Palestine.

And so it happened. Rounds of Katyusha missiles fell on the
settlements of Keryat Shmonah, Nahariya and Metula.

The aggression continued and Israeli forces bombed electricity
utilities to further pressure the Lebanese government to put an end to
Hezbollah's activities. However, Katyusha missiles kept on rocking
Israeli settlements. On the fifth day of the aggression, it became
clear that the initiative was in the hands of the resistance.

The Israeli command realized that "Grapes of Wrath" had an opposite
impact. To escape this situation, It intensified military assaults,
while the resistance raised its tone and threatened to attack more
settlements. In the meantime, Damascus, Tehran and Beirut were
confronting the Israeli-American axis, while Paris and Moscow which
intervened for calm down had their initiatives hindered by the
American demand that concerned parties sign a document calling in one
of its article for the deletion of resolution 425, the UN resolution
that demanded Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon. Washington was also
protecting Israel at the Security Council by vetoing any resolution
that condemned Israeli aggressions against Lebanon, including the
massacres in Qana, Nabatiyeh and elsewhere. The Americans made their
own initiative. Then US Ambassador to Lebanon Richard Jones told the
Lebanese government of martyr Rafik Hariri that to end Israeli
operations in Lebanon, the resistance had to stop attacking Israeli
forces in the south, whereas Israeli forces preserved the right to
attack Hezbollah positions if they attacked "northern Israel."

Lebanon seemed to be fighting this war alone, amid Arab silence.

Official and popular Lebanon backed the resistance and Lebanon's
allies were working on a cease fire. The Americans acknowledged that
Sayyed Nasrallah had become a major player in any attempt to reach a
cease fire. Israel's target to crush and disarm Hezbollah was
transformed into a request to stop firing Katyusha missiles at
settlements in return for a stop of Israel's military campaign.

Then US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, failed to press for
Israel's demands. After seven days of political wrangling, Christopher
called up Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
for a meeting in Damascus. The April understanding, as it was later
known, announced the end of the 16-day Israeli aggression. The signed
understanding stated that Israel and its collaborators would not fire
at civilian targets and the resistance would not attack "northern
Israel" with Katyusha missiles or any other kind of weapons. The
understanding included an article to form a monitoring group made up
of observers from the US, France, Syria, Lebanon and Israel to oversee
the implementation of the understanding.

Operation Grapes of Wrath ended and the Israeli military assessment
concluded it was a failed operation while the political aftermath saw
Shimon Peres defeated in Israeli elections.

Ten years later, Israel launched an unprecedented war against Lebanon,
in an attempt to crush Hezbollah.

They also failed.

Al-ManarTV

homepage: homepage: http://www.manartv.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=15474&language=en