Pulp Non Fiction

[ Thursday, July 27, 2006 ]


Lebanese Doctor Says 'Phosphorus Weapons' Cause Suffering
CNN video correspondent, Karl Penhaul, follows a family that had been mistakenly caught in an Israeli air strike. The doctor treating the family says that there is phosphorus in the weapons that cause extremely painful burns on its victims.

Are We Children Of A Lesser God?

Rome: A despairing Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora asked whether war-cursed Lebanese were "children of a lesser God," after leaving crucial talks without an endorsement for an immediate ceasefire.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stood quietly beside him, as Siniora launched into a tirade against Israel, and delivered a moving elegy to the Lebanese he said were dying every day.

"We are being pounded day by day, and scores of people are dying every day," Siniora said, from a raised stage in a sweltering conference room packed with journalists at the Italian foreign ministry.

"The country is really being cut to pieces to bring the country to its knees and that is what's happening," Siniora said.

Earlier, in the closed-doors meeting of the international conference on the Lebanon crisis, Siniora asked "what future other than one of fear, frustration, financial ruin and fanaticism can stem from the rubble?"

"Is the value of human life less in Lebanon than that of citizens elsewhere? Are we children of a lesser God? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?

"Can the international community continue to stand by while such callous retribution by the state of Israel is inflicted upon us?

"Is this what is called legitimate self-defence?"

In the press conference, Siniora acknowledged that Israel had a right of self-defence after the Lebanon-based Hezbollah captured two of its soldiers earlier in July, launching the offensive. But he said its actions were disproportionate.

Israel was not present at the conference but other leaders also spoke out in sympathy for the Israeli civilians cowering under the rain of Hezbollah missiles, since the conflict erupted.

For instance, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said "I call on Hezbollah to stop its deliberate targeting of Israeli population centres."

"Rockets continue to fall on Israeli cities, taking lives and instilling deep fear among hundreds of thousands of people," he said in remarks which also expressed sympathy for Lebanese victims.

Those inside the meeting said Siniora's comments took an emotional toll on all those who heard them.

"Siniora's presence and emotional appeal may have injected a sense of urgency," Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja told reporters.

A senior US State Department official said on condition of anonymity that "Siniora's comments gave added poignancy."

But the official defended Rice against claims that Washington was dragging its feet on an immediate ceasefire -- which he said was not a realistic immediate proposition.

"Just saying there is going to be a ceasefire doesn't make it so."

At the conference, top US and European officials called for an end to the violence in Israel and Lebanon and the establishment of an international force to keep the peace, but they did not unanimously call for an immediate ceasefire even as Siniora appealed for peace. The conference also did not provide details on the proposed force.

Rice, who had been under pressure to lean on Israel to end its two-week-old offensive, maintained that any ceasefire must be "sustainable" and that there could be "no return to the status quo ante".

Her wording suggested continued US support for Israel's demand that the violence must end with the Hezbollah disarmed or at least removed from its border. The position has set the United States, as well as Britain, apart from most of the others at the table who, while supporting the goals, want Israel's devastating offensive to first end.

Siniora, who attended and issued a dramatic appeal for peace, said the Rome conference made "some progress" but pleaded with world leaders to keep working toward an immediate ceasefire."The more we delay the ceasefire, the more we are going to witness more being killed, more destruction and more aggression against the civilians in Lebanon," he said.

That was an opportunity to present our case to all of those who are in the conference and really wanted to express our demands that for so many years part of our country is still occupied, which is represented by the Shebaa Farms, which still occupied by Israel. And there are other things that -- there are some of the detainees that are being still held in Israeli prisons. And Israel, up till now, is denying to give Lebanon the maps for the land mines that it has planted during the time when it was occupying that part of Lebanon.

Apparently alluding to his differences with Rice, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said many of the participants appealed for an immediate and unconditional truce.

The Rome conference appears to have formalised the numerous proposals to establish a new multinational force for southern Lebanon.

"What we agreed upon is that there should be an international force under a UN mandate that will have a strong and robust capability to help bring about peace, to help provide the ability for humanitarian efforts to go forward and to bring an end to the violence," Rice told reporters.

art [11:42 PM]