Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Don't Shoot the Drone

A man hanging off his home after Israeli strike on a residential building in the Chiyah district.

The moral of the story: don't shoot at an Israeli drone. You won't be able to hit it and it will certainly kill you and the entire people living in your building. This is proportionality!

What do you say to a man whose family is buried under the rubble?
Robert Fisk
09 August 2006

There were bulldozers turning over the tons of rubble, a cloud of dust and smoke a mile high over the smashed slums of Beirut's southern suburbs and a tall man in a grey T-shirt - a Brooklyn taxi driver, no less - standing on the verge of tears, staring at what may well be the grave of his grandfather, his uncle and aunt. Half the family home had been torn away and the entire block of civilian apartments next door had been smashed to the ground a few hours earlier by the two missiles that exploded in Asaad al-Assad Street.
What do you say to a man whose family is buried under the rubble? The last corpse had been a man whose face appeared etched in dust before the muck was removed and he turned out to be paper-thin - so perfectly had the falling concrete crushed him. Mohamed al-Husseini had left New York for a holiday with his young wife and infant child - they were safe in the centre of Beirut - because he wanted to see his family home and talk to the relatives he grew up with.
"Just look what the Israelis have done," he said, not taking his eyes off the floors of the apartments, now scarcely an inch between them. "I am confused. You know? I don't know what to do. I could go back to my wife and kid but the rest of my family is in there. They used to live in the south and they survived there. Then they come to Beirut and die here."
Mohamed al-Husseini's grandfather, Mohamed Yassin, is - let us not say "was" yet - 75. His uncle is Hussein Yassin, his aunt is called Hila. By last night, nothing had been found of them. And of those in the building next door?
At least 17 civilians were killed, many of them children. A 12-year-old boy called Hussein Ahmed Mohsen lay dead in the mortuary of the Mount Lebanon Hospital, along with a woman who died just after being rescued when the missiles collapsed her home just after 7.30 on Monday night. Almost all the occupants of this doomed building were members of the Rmeiti family - again, they were from the dangerous south - and 15 of the dead were from the same village.
It was a scene to provoke fury. One Hizbollah "watcher" demanded my press card and lost interest when he read it. But a Lebanese youth in a yellow shirt at the scene was grabbed by the same man, hauled away by his collar and handed over to a clutch of beefy, tall individuals who forced him into a car. Everyone now searches for spies, for the men - and women - who are reputed to "paint" the apartment blocks of Beirut for Israel's missile technology to lock on to their targets.
A sad, grim meeting in the same Mount Lebanon Hospital suggested that the house had not been "fingered" by anyone. I found Ali Rmeiti, an employee at Beirut airport, covered in bloody wounds, his face distorted, shaking his head in disbelief. "I was on the balcony with my wife, Huda, and three of our children ... I heard nothing - nothing. I didn't realize what happened. It was black. Then came the second blast and we were all blown into the street with the balcony."
Huda Rmeiti is lying next to her husband on a drip-feed, covered with even more bloody wounds than Ali. I know - and they do not - that three of their four children were killed.
And why was the building struck? The Israelis have slaughtered hundreds of civilians, attacking convoys of refugees they themselves ordered to leave. But Saadieh, Ali Rmeiti's sister-in-law, has a story which matches those of two other survivors. Before the missiles exploded, she said, an Israeli drone flew over the Shiyyah district, a pilotless reconnaissance aircraft which sends live pictures back to Tel Aviv. "Um Kamel", as the Lebanese call them, whined around for a time and then, without warning, someone drove down Assaad al-Assad street on a motorcycle and fired into the sky with a rifle opposite the Rmeiti home.
Then he left, some youth who wanted to prove his foolish manhood. You can't destroy drones with a rifle, as any Hizbollah member knows. But not long afterwards, the two missiles came streaking down on the homes of the innocent.
Perhaps there are two moral lessons from this, one obvious, the other familiar. Don't shoot at drones. And don't believe for a moment the Israelis will care about firing missiles into your home when their little toy spots a man with a gun.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a rubbish article
I dont have time to read mister Fisk altered so called relaity.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous gidi (tel aviv) said...

Hi Please post the following coment from

At five after the war

By Gideon Samet

The war is actually over, even if both sides don't know it yet. The bitter argument as to whether it was justified will, perhaps, be settled only in the coming months. But Israel is not prepared for what will come later any more than it was fully alert when it started. The really big test will not be the balance of casualties, destruction of missile launchers, blown-up houses or morale symbols - whether false or true - that both sides will try to impress on the tired minds of millions of citizens.

What will determine Israel's place in this bad neighborhood for many years to come is the way the country's political and social leadership knew how to navigate in this new situation. No committee of inquiry will mark the path. Heads will have to roll, mainly because of the scandalous treatment of the home front. But above all, minds must open themselves up to a completely different reality. The strangest war in our history has suddenly made clear the extent of the danger emanating from the contemptible enemy in the backyard. In spite of its unprecedented cruelty, this war has not yet opened the eyes of the government, which knows how to pull the trigger, but whose diplomatic mind is as narrow as an ant's world.

In a way that is still unclear to this government, the war, like many in history, is also a special opportunity for a new diplomatic move. Ehud Olmert understands that unilateral convergence has been hit with a crushing missile. Perhaps, therefore, in one of this battle's strange phone calls, he hastened to apologize to MK Efi Eitam this week for saying in an interview that an achievement in Lebanon will boost convergence. Nothing can be unilateral any longer. Not dealing with Hezbollah, not withdrawing from the West Bank, no boastful patter about Israel's power to arrange matters as it sees fit. The new age now forced on Israel is one of dialogue with those pulling the strings in the West as with our neighbors.

A visit to east Asia over the past two weeks made well clear to this writer the extent of the Islamic fundamentalist threat to the east of us, all the way to the continent's edges. A look at this Islamic axis from its back can be more frightening than the local threat. The radical Islamic chain feeds the local threat from dark depths, beyond Iran, Syria and Lebanon. But Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and any country with a Muslim minority also feel its poison stinger in their backs.

Jamaa Islamiya wants an Islamic religious state in Indonesia, which is Muslim, but largely secular. The same is true in southern Thailand and the Philippines. Singapore, which is surrounded by the tom-tom drums of world jihad, lately sent a high-level and curious delegation to learn from Israel's experience. But it has nothing to learn from us regarding the insight that the United States is only just beginning to internalize: to deal with the huge conglomerate of religious fanaticism, smart bombs are not enough. The U.S. magazine Atlantic Monthly, for example, published a comprehensive cover story this month about the need to understand that the war on terror, a la George Bush, is over. The time has come for a no less extensive diplomatic and humanitarian moves accompanied by occasional military means.

To many in Israel who in their minds have yet to take their finger off the trigger toward Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, it may seem surprising that this is the time to move to a completely different front. Now, after the mutual killing, circumstances are ripe for a wider Israeli assault in favor of serious negotiations with Hamas and the Palestinian administration. This is also the time to talk to Syria, or at least to take its pulse.

This is the right time to bring forth everything the Israeli genius can, despite its famed historic limitations, toward dialogue, clear bilateralism, arrangements, humanitarian sensitivity, a lowering of the repulsive macho tone that Olmert is not lacking. A crack has opened toward another age. Olmert and company will be courting our disaster if they do not move toward it with a firm step. Not at six after the war. At five.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Akiko (Japan) said...

hello - I wonder if the picture is another one that was tempered like all the rest of the pictures posted on Lebanease blogs and reuaters AP etc... ? question for the owners of the blog :-) thanks

3:26 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Hello Japan

If you mean "tampered" - yup, sure was. Have you seen the ones of the blown up buildings? Pretty good, wouldn't you say? And the oil and dead people?

The place looks a lot like Manchuria did back when you folks were still running around loose. And I'm reminded of Nanking, too.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

hcb, you know I'm usually trying to see the other side of things but look at this picture. at the colors, the image of the guy and his posture... i think it's out of some video game. there's a lot of tampered images going around even Reuters fell into this trap a few days ago. i believe mrtez won't put one on purpose but might have believed it to be true. actually something like this might have happened - that someone shot and the plain thought it's a terrost and shot back... but come-on, this image?... the digital age just confuses us further more.

there's a way to check it: are there more images from the same scene? i mean, something like this, the press wont' miss it, we'll see it from many more angles and read the stories. but I'm not sure you should waste your time on proving that. either way all of this is just getting worse, I'm not interested in the "who suffers more" competition. i just want to know when is the kindergarten teacher (NATO?) coming to separate the children who're killing each other in the playground.

11:34 PM  
Blogger mrtez said...


the picture was taken from the where is not tampered with...truly real

2:20 AM  
Blogger HCB said...

Carmel, I think you and some of your friends ought to be involved in whatever is going on concerning the cease fire. I'm serious. Boards of directors of large companies have found it's valuable to have "regular" people on the board. And minorities. The idea is that voices other than just those of the people who live in the stratosphere can be heard and considered. Imagine if someone said, simply, "is there any really good reason to expand this thing to kill even more people now? Any reason other than serving egos?" Israel's armed forces are on high alert and can get back across the border in no time if needed. Somebody has to make the first move.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Lary (NYC) said...

I doubt this picture is authentic.
not sure mrtez is telling the truth.
think its reckless for blog owners to post pictures that are then revealed as fake the next day.

it serves nothing in resolving the conflict. I thought this blog was obsessed with posting only factual reporting from reliable sources. :-)

11:30 AM  
Anonymous carmel said...

mrtez, NYtimes got it from somewhere or tempered with it digitally because it looks BAD and unrealistic. it happened to Reuters too, i don't trust their images. you live there, go see for yourself and tell us. as media researcher I'm telling you i don't trust media I'd rather trust your eyes.

HCB come-on, who listens to us? our leaders are not the best men this country has to offer to put it mildly. it'll take generations for good people to get to politics in this country. I'm going to another anti-war demonstration today in tel aviv but i doubt it'll change anything. i prefer to keep talking with Lebanese people and work on the future generation relationships. there's a forum I'm in when people form both sides talk and become friends and i trust internet technology to keep connecting us through this nightmare.

12:01 PM  
Blogger mrtez said...

the picture is real...100%...seen it on TV and journalist friends confirmed it to me...

1:51 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Carmel - you're right. But it's because we let it happen to us that a few egocentric men and women take over. Think of it - at least in the Unite States, it's practically impossible to get "good" people to run - they don't want to put up with the hassle and grief they have to go through. So you wind up with people who want the power of the position for themselves. Israel had many good people leading it - thoughtful and human. So did the United States. But look what we let ourselves do to ourselves. The choice came down to Bush or Kerry - dumb and dumber. But the lesson should not be lost - we are controlled by fear by an administration so incompetent it must keep the governed fearful in the hope of diverting attention from its failures. It's the same with Hezbollah - there's no substance to the "organization" and no real goal other than to murder and control. They offer nothing to the people but they take a lot. It can be analogized somewhat to our religious ministers in poor areas - with no other hope for a good life, the people look to the pastor in the hope they'll find a good life "hereafter" in the lap of God. As with those people, the people controlled by Hezbollah need help to get out of the trap. But what this invasion does is create proof that the Hezbollah leaders are "right" that Israel is evil and wants only to kill them. They are not philosophically educated - they are people with no hope whose belief has been reduced to the idea they must somehow tolerate their current lives and wait for the promised life to come. That, I think, is the problem in Palestine also. It's not that Palestinians or Lebanese are "evil" - it's that their "leaders" are bigoted, hateful, mean men. And to survive, they need the people in their flocks afraid of Israel. If they weren't and if the people had a basis for some hope of at least a future for their children, then the rabble of Hamas and Hezbollah would simply evaporate for a lack of support.

That's why people like you must - MUST - be involved in the political process. A completely unknown man in Connecticut just unseated a long time Senator. He did it on one issue - the Iraq war. He appealed to enough people that he has a good shot at becoming a United States senator.

Don't give up just because you think you have no hope to be heard. If you do, then the only voices that ever will be heard are the ones we hear today. And fear and distrust and bigotry will continue to control.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

HCB I'm just so tired from living in a country and being part of a people that everyone wants to murder and have obnoxious theologies about. is that a good justification for being just a little paranoid? i don't think i could stand being involved in the politics of such a place than too often must attack to survive. I'm afraid that if i get too involved i wont' be so nice anymore.... and the truth is that for every person like you that we CAN talk to there are 50 who want to kill us. now go figure... sorry, I'm having a hopeless day.

4:45 PM  
Blogger HCB said...

Of course. But I would bet a lot of Palestinians would say the same thing. That's the problem with the politics of hate - it breeds fear and anger and distrust. The US history is full of it - we had our ku klux klan enforcing the fear of blacks and their murder. We decimated the American "Indians" and the survivors are now living in alcoholic ridden little towns some of which were so bad the suggestion was made to give them Alcatraz Island (a former federal prison in San Francisco Bay) because at least it had running water. We incarcerated all "Japanese Americans" during WW2. But somehow, we've overcome a lot and are still working on it.

It takes good people, Carmen. It takes good people with a moral compass and genuine compassion. Not people with an agenda of hate and fear and bigotry. But - especially when the bigots come armed with AK-47s and the idea of killing those who don't support them - that is when we most need understanding and compassion. People to try to HELP those otherwise helpless, hopeless people. Send in a Peace Corps rather than an armored corps. Of course they will have to fight their way in. But the hope is the people will be glad to be liberated. That, by the way, was the mistake the US made in Iraq: we proposed to liberate but we occupied.

It's trite, Iknow, but "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." One voice becomes two, becomes four, becomes eight .... It started slowly but the people finally forced the US to get out of Vietnam. And the same will happen in Iraq.

Keep the faith in yourself, Carmen. And so will others.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous BlogWatch said...

A great quote by Golda Meir:

"We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us."

9:05 PM  
Anonymous blogwatch said...

A great quote by Golda Meir:

"We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us."

9:27 PM  

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