Monday, September 04, 2006

Prepared by: Dr. Marwan Iskandar & President Fawaz El Merheby

The evening of Friday August 11, the Security Council voted Resolution 1701 calling for a ceasefire in Lebanon. The Resolution provided for a force of 15,000 Lebanese army members supported by a beefed up UNIFIL strengthened force of 15,000 to maintain tranquility south of the Litani. The question of Chabaa Farms was to be studied by Secretary Annan with a view to propose a solution in one month, while Israeli withdrawal was to be effected simultaneously with the infusion of Lebanese and UNIFIL forces. Exchange of prisoners was to be negotiated by the U.N. with support from the International Red Cross.

-On Saturday August 12, the Lebanese cabinet endorsed the Resolution and on Sunday the Israeli cabinet did the same. By contrast, Israel took advantage in the remaining hours till 8:00 a.m. on Monday to increase devastation in the South and in the southern suburbs of Beirut. In this area alone, eleven buildings were completely destroyed and 30 civilians at least lost their lives.

-The ceasefire resolution was inevitable after a month of savagery and intense fighting. Human and material losses were immense in Lebanon exceeding 1100 dead and $7 billion off material losses. Israel suffered 175 dead, of whom 30 soldiers during Sunday the 13th, and expended over $2.1 billion on the war. Exhaustion had touched both parties but Israel's image was far more tarnished.

-At 5:00 a.m., Friday August 11 anticipated Israeli bombardment started. It was heavier than usual with air attacks and naval heavy shelling. Israel was keeping its word, it had dropped leaflets the evening of August 10 asking residents of Chiah (northern periphery towards Beirut of the southern suburbs) and Hay Al Sulum (literally meaning the stairs quarters) a suburb of Choueifat, a town overlooking the airport of Beirut, to leave their homes or else.

-Many people will have lost their lives the morning of August 11. Moving away from home is not easy particularly for poor or modest families as are the plurality of residents of both areas, and none of these considerations impinged on Israeli calculations. The Israelis were hurting from Shiite Hizbollah fighters having lost 16 soldiers killed on the 10th of August and all they wanted was to punish civilian Shiite concentrations hoping that evictions and human losses would turn the Shiite masses against Hizbollah.

-The exact opposite effect comes about. Israel has shown superiority in fighting at a distance, by war planes and naval power. Lebanon and Hizbollah had no meaning full anti-aircraft capabilities and a form of surface land launched torpedo against naval power was used successfully by Hizbollah in the early days of the war.

-Since then, Israeli naval vessels kept their distance and when a patrol boat ventured close to Tyre on the 9th of August, it was sunk by a torpedo of the type used before.

-The one month war has shown the futility and brutality of its instruments. Israel uses airpower and naval power to bring about havoc, destruction and human tragedies in Lebanon. Hizbollah employs short and long range rockets which forced Israel to evacuate its northern areas. Israel's capabilities are far greater to bring about devastation. By contrast, however, Israel's foot soldiers helped by heavy armor have lost each confrontation with Hizbollah fighters. And losses of armor to sophisticated anti-tank rocket launchers have exceeded 100 Mirkava tanks in addition to armored troop carriers.

-Israel's security cabinet approved the principal of a land onslaught as of August 9, but the movement was delayed. The Israelis pretend it was because of awaiting the Security Council Resolution on August 11, but they were reluctant because on a broad front with combat between fighting men, the Hizbollah fighters have proven to be better motivated and better trained for guerrilla warfare than the Israelis. In fact, when Israeli forces attacked in great numbers (30,000) 10th to 11th July, they lost in two days of fighting 46 soldiers dead and over 20 tanks and armored carriers. Still they did their best to broaden devastation before the ceasefire Resolution N0. 1701 voted on Friday the 11th was to be implemented.

-By morning of Monday the 14th July, when the ceasefire started at 8:00 a.m., human civilian losses in Lebanon exceeded 1,150 dead compared with 175 in Israel and 3,500 wounded in Lebanon and 1000 in Israel. The Order of Engineers estimated construction areas destroyed, of houses and schools, to equal 4.2 million square meters. To rebuild these areas noted above it would cost around $2.2-2.4 billion. Lebanon's economic losses have been enormous and can be briefly enumerated in the following general descriptive manner:

-Loss of growth in national income $1.4 billion

-Infrastructure losses, including bridges, roads, electric station, water works, industrial plants, $1.2 billion storage facilities, etc...

-Housing $ 2.2 billion

-Loss of government income over four months from VAT, airport charges, port, lack of land $ 0.6 billion registration fees, etc...

-Loss of income from tourism $ 1.5 billion $ 7.1 billion

-This figure is increasing with every day of fighting and it does not reflect the two most painful and significant losses. On the one hand, Lebanon has to rebuild its infrastructure and attractiveness. All the efforts will be expensive and compensatory rather than cumulative. Moreover, of the 220,000 Lebanese who left Lebanon because of the war at least 70,000, a ratio of 30 percent of the total, were young and educated people. Their loss represents a tremendous loss of human capital which has proven to be the most significant contributor to development in the past 50 years. Assuming the lost investment of $100,000 for each of the young and educated who left, our loss in human capital in four weeks exceeds $7 billion or the total of our material losses so far. Possibly a rejuvenated, democratic and plural Lebanon, can in the future, regain most of its young and educated Lebanese who emigrated under duress.

-The war of July-August 2006 waged by Israel against Hizbollah and all of Lebanon is proving futile. Israel's only successes are achieved by remote control of equipment of mass destruction. On land Israel has achieved little with significant losses. For the first time in a war with an Arab party, Israel is faced with the need to evacuate thousands and widespread fear. Also, and in a clear manner, Israel has lost the international public opinion support. This result is obvious from listening to the SKY NEWS, a pro-Israeli television station which carried severe criticism of Israeli brutality.

-Practically all foreign reporters working out of Beirut or along the Lebanese-Israeli border favor Lebanon's position in response to Israeli brutality. Discussions with American, French, British, Canadian, German, Swedish and Polish reporters reveal revulsion at Israel's practices and sympathy for Lebanese woes.

-Let us hope a durable cease-fire resolution is reached as Lebanon closes the sad chapter of the 5th Israeli-Lebanese war fought on Lebanese land since 1978 with no Arab military assistance whatsoever.

Kindly forward this article to all

Prepared by:
Dr. Marwan Iskandar /AUB Alumni Association
BA 1959, MA 1962/President Fawaz El Merheby

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