Since the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah militia on July 12 it has taken over a fortnight for Lebanon, in its tourist peak, to be reduced to a humanitarian crisis.
During this time the United Nations has given Israel open authority to bombard a country with indiscriminate aggression towards Lebanese civilians.
If those Lebanese people are really protected under the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular under Article 2 of the Charter, they or indeed any of us in “we the people” - the United Nations’ motto - could put trust in the UN Security Council to resolve any breach to the peace of a sovereign state.
But the unencumbered exchange of bombing between Israel and what we assume to be Hezbollah militia has led to some horrifying consequences: the mass displacement of over 750,000 Lebanese civilians within and across Lebanon’s borders, and the loss of over 380 Lebanese and 17 Israeli civilian lives.
The context of the failure started on June 28, when Israel retaliated against the Palestinian kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, in an extraordinary fashion.
For the following month Israel detained elected members of the Palestinian cabinet, invaded northern Gaza, bombed the Palestinian Interior Ministry and killed scores of Palestinian civilians. According to UN envoy John Dugard, “over 1,500 rounds of artillery showered on Gaza”.
Russia condemned Israel’s actions, while requesting the release of Israeli soldiers. China remained silent on the issue. Two other permanent members of the UN Security Council, France and the US, blocked a draft UN Resolution condemning Israel’s military attack in Gaza.
One month ahead, during the July 16-19 G8 Summit in St Petersburg, four of the permanent members of the Security Council - the United Kingdom, United States, France, and Russia - met with Germany, Canada, Italy and Japan and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
On July 17 United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan suggested that perhaps the 2,000-strong United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) should be boosted with further peacekeepers so the Lebanese Government could gain control of the Hezbollah-dominated south and “sort out the question of the disarmament of the militia”.
However he gave no indication as to whether the other Security Council permanent members would pass a resolution to bolster a multilateral peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
During the G8 Summit John Bolton, American Ambassador to the UN, discouraged talk of a multilateral force or of a cease-fire.
Mr Bolton asked how a “democratically elected state”, meaning Israel, could have a ceasefire with a “gang of terrorists”, meaning Hezbollah. Mr Bolton further questioned the ability of the UN to disarm the source of Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.
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