Michael Pascoe writes:

Don’t mention the war, unless you want to be attacked by fervent Israel supporters or knockers, particularly if you stray into the area of which side is committing the greater atrocities.

Public and political reaction, never mind Crikey’s feedback, splits along preconceived positions over Israel. But for anyone less than fully committed to Israel’s right to do whatever it likes, the evidence is mounting that Israel is conducting a very dirty war indeed.

On top of blasting the UN observation post and the well-photographed ambulance, Robert Fisk offers the following as part of an article in Wednesday’s New Matilda:

For the second time in eight days, the Israelis committed a war crime yesterday. They ordered the villagers of Taire, near the border, to leave their homes and then – as their convoy of cars and minibuses obediently trailed northwards – the Israeli air force fired a missile into the rear minibus, killing three refugees and seriously wounding 13 other civilians. The rocket that killed them is believed to have been a Hellfire missile made by Lockheed Martin in Florida.

Nine days ago, the Israeli army ordered the inhabitants of a neighbouring village, Marwaheen, to leave their homes and then fired rockets into one of their evacuation trucks, blasting the women and children inside to their deaths. And this is the same Israeli air force which was praised last week by one of Israel’s greatest defenders – Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz – because it ‘takes extraordinary steps to minimise civilian casualties.’

Nor have the Israelis spared Sidon. A heap of rubble and pancaked walls is all that is left of the Fatima Zahra mosque, a Hezbollah institution in the centre of the city – its minaret crumbled and its dome now sitting on the concrete, a black flag still flying from its top. When Israeli warplanes came early yesterday morning, the 75-year-old caretaker had no time to run from the building; he died of his wounds hours later. His overturned white plastic chair still lies by the gate.

The mosque is unlikely to have been used for military purposes; a school belonging to the Hariris, Sidon’s all-powerful Sunni family, stands next door; they would never have allowed weapons into the building.

Not that Hezbollah – which killed two more Israeli civilians with their rockets in Haifa yesterday – have respected Sidon, whose population is 95 per cent Sunni. They tried to fire Iranian-made missiles at Israel from the seafront corniche and from beside the city slaughterhouse last week. On both occasions, residents physically prevented them from opening fire.

Israeli supporters might claim the Sidon residents’ actions are just what they are trying to achieve. Maybe they also think it’s fine to shoot up refugee convoys – they’re probably Shiites anyway.

Peter Fray

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