Qana is a village located southeast of Tyre in Southern Lebanon. It has been the location of two separate incidents in which the Israeli Defense Forces caused civilian deaths during military operations.
- 1996 shelling of Qana: On 18 April 1996, amid heavy fighting between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hezbollah during "Operation Grapes of Wrath", a Fijian UNIFIL compound in the village was shelled by Israeli artillery, killing 106 civilians and injuring around 116 others who had taken refuge there to escape the fighting. Four UNIFIL soldiers were also seriously injured.
- 2006 Qana airstrike: On 30 July 2006, during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, a double airstrike on the town killed at least 60 people (including 37 children) and injured many others when an apartment building collapsed.
as for the photo itself, i took this at a rally in london, managing to backlight the placard with a flare that someone had lit, hence the crazy fire and smoke and sparks! (obviously used the flash too, or the placard wouldn't be nearly so bright - and thank god for exposure bracketing!!)
By David S. Cloud and Helene Cooper
The New York Times
Saturday 22 July 2006
Washington - The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.
The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran's efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel's request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that she would head to Israel on Sunday at the beginning of a round of Middle Eastern diplomacy. The original plan was to include a stop to Cairo in her travels, but she did not announce any stops in Arab capitals.
Instead, the meeting of Arab and European envoys planned for Cairo will take place in Italy, Western diplomats said. While Arab governments initially criticized Hezbollah for starting the fight with Israel in Lebanon, discontent is rising in Arab countries over the number of civilian casualties in Lebanon, and the governments have become wary of playing host to Ms. Rice until a cease-fire package is put together.
To hold the meetings in an Arab capital before a diplomatic solution is reached, said Martin S. Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel, "would have identified the Arabs as the primary partner of the United States in this project at a time where Hezbollah is accusing the Arab leaders of providing cover for the continuation of Israel's military operation."
The decision to stay away from Arab countries for now is a markedly different strategy from the shuttle diplomacy that previous administrations used to mediate in the Middle East. "I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante," Ms. Rice said Friday. "I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling around, and it wouldn't have been clear what I was shuttling to do."
Before Ms. Rice heads to Israel on Sunday, she will join President Bush at the White House for discussions on the Middle East crisis with two Saudi envoys, Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the secretary general of the National Security Council.
The new American arms shipment to Israel has not been announced publicly, and the officials who described the administration's decision to rush the munitions to Israel would discuss it only after being promised anonymity. The officials included employees of two government agencies, and one described the shipment as just one example of a broad array of armaments that the United States has long provided Israel.
One American official said the shipment should not be compared to the kind of an "emergency resupply" of dwindling Israeli stockpiles that was provided during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, when an American military airlift helped Israel recover from early Arab victories.
David Siegel, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said: "We have been using precision-guided munitions in order to neutralize the military capabilities of Hezbollah and to minimize harm to civilians. As a rule, however, we do not comment on Israel's defense acquisitions."
Israel's need for precision munitions is driven in part by its strategy in Lebanon, which includes destroying hardened underground bunkers where Hezbollah leaders are said to have taken refuge, as well as missile sites and other targets that would be hard to hit without laser and satellite-guided bombs.
Pentagon and military officials declined to describe in detail the size and contents of the shipment to Israel, and they would not say whether the munitions were being shipped by cargo aircraft or some other means. But an arms-sale package approved last year provides authority for Israel to purchase from the United States as many as 100 GBU-28's, which are 5,000-pound laser-guided bombs intended to destroy concrete bunkers. The package also provides for selling satellite-guided munitions.
An announcement in 2005 that Israel was eligible to buy the "bunker buster" weapons described the GBU-28 as "a special weapon that was developed for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground." The document added, "The Israeli Air Force will use these GBU-28's on their F-15 aircraft."
American officials said that once a weapons purchase is approved, it is up to the buyer nation to set up a timetable. But one American official said normal procedures usually do not include rushing deliveries within days of a request. That was done because Israel is a close ally in the midst of hostilities, the official said.
Although Israel had some precision guided bombs in its stockpile when the campaign in Lebanon began, the Israelis may not have taken delivery of all the weapons they were entitled to under the 2005 sale.
Israel said its air force had dropped 23 tons of explosives Wednesday night alone in Beirut, in an effort to penetrate what was believed to be a bunker used by senior Hezbollah officials.
A senior Israeli official said Friday that the attacks to date had degraded Hezbollah's military strength by roughly half, but that the campaign could go on for two more weeks or longer. "We will stay heavily with the air campaign," he said. "There's no time limit. We will end when we achieve our goals."
The Bush administration announced Thursday a military equipment sale to Saudi Arabia, worth more than $6 billion, a move that may in part have been aimed at deflecting inevitable Arab government anger at the decision to supply Israel with munitions in the event that effort became public.
On Friday, Bush administration officials laid out their plans for the diplomatic strategy that Ms. Rice will pursue. In Rome, the United States will try to hammer out a diplomatic package that will offer Lebanon incentives under the condition that a United Nations resolution, which calls for the disarming of Hezbollah, is implemented.
Diplomats will also try to figure out the details around an eventual international peacekeeping force, and which countries will contribute to it. Germany and Russia have both indicated that they would be willing to contribute forces; Ms. Rice said the United States was unlikely to.
Implicit in the eventual diplomatic package is a cease-fire. But a senior American official said it remained unclear whether, under such a plan, Hezbollah would be asked to retreat from southern Lebanon and commit to a cease-fire, or whether American diplomats might depend on Israel's continued bombardment to make Hezbollah's acquiescence irrelevant.
Daniel Ayalon, Israel's ambassador to Washington, said that Israel would not rule out an international force to police the borders of Lebanon and Syria and to patrol southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah has had a stronghold. But he said that Israel was first determined to take out Hezbollah's command and control centers and weapons stockpiles.
BEIRUT (AFP) - Israel's air strike on the Lebanese village of Qana sparked global outrage, with the UN Security Council deploring the deaths and Arab and Muslim leaders and thousands of livid protesters in the Middle East branding the assault a war crime.
Diplomats said the United States again forced the emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to water down its statement so that Israel was not openly criticised.
But the statement said: "The Security Council strongly deplores this loss of innocent lives and the killing of all civilians in the present conflict and requests the secretary general to report to it within one week on the circumstances of this tragic incident."
Qatar, which proposed the statement, had wanted to call the attack "deliberate" and to call for a ceasefire.
The statement said: "The Security Council expresses its concern at the threat of escalation of violence with further grave consequences for the humanitarian situation, calls for and end to violence, and underscores the urgency of securing a lasting, permanent and sustainable ceasefire.
The final statement was agreed after the United States announced that Israel has agreed to suspend its air attacks for 48 hours pending an investigation into the Qana bombing.
The 15-nation council met in emergency session at the demand of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora after the Israeli raid left 52 people dead, including at least 30 children.
"We must condemn this action in the strongest possible terms, and I appeal to you to do likewise," Annan told the council.
"I'm deeply dismayed that my earlier calls for immediate cessation of hostilities were not heard, with the result that innocent lives continue to be taken and innocent civilians continue to suffer," he said.
In Lebanon, where the deadlist attack of the 19-day-old conflict killed at least 52 people, more than half of them children, the government accused Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity as thousands of demonstrators attacked the UN headquarters in Beirut.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forced to cancel a visit to the Lebanese capital after a furious Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said there was no place for talks without an immediate ceasefire following the strike.
"These aggressions are crimes against humanity and war crimes in all senses of the words," Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said. "It is to hide their failure in achieving their military objectives."
Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said he "strongly condemned Israel's ongoing barbaric attacks on Lebanon, the latest of which is the attack on the village of Qana."
The Organisation of the Islamic Conference said "the latest Israeli massacre amounts to a war crime and shows Israel's contempt for international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in times of war."
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose country has been involved in diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis, called Israel's attack "irresponsible" and reiterated his call for an immediate ceasefire.
Jordan, another regional broker, also strongly condemned the raid. "This criminal aggression is a flagrant violation of international laws," said Jordan's King Abdullah II in a statement.
Iran blamed the bloody attack on Rice's visit to the region.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned the attack and asked the United Nations to oversee an immediate ceasefire, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.
"Abu Mazen (Abbas) has called the Lebanese president and prime minister and offered his deepest condolences (for) the victims of the crime that was committed by Israel in Qana which he condemned in the strongest possible terms," he said.
Some 2,000 Palestinians protested in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The United Arab Emirates joined the chorus of condemnations of the "ugly massacre".
"This crime ... provides new proof of Israel's systematic policy of using its destructive weapons to kill in an indiscriminate way and without consideration for international laws and conventions that protect civilians," said Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Rice voiced deep sadness over the loss of "innocent" life in the attack and urged Israel to take "extraordinary care" to avoid civilian casualties.
She pledged to work for a ceasefire as soon as possible but again stopped short of demanding an immediate halt to hostilities. Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Rice said it was time to "get to a ceasefire" in Lebanon.
US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said the deaths were "tragic" but that they did not constitute a war crime.
"Not only do we feel sorrow for what happened in Qana, but also a determination that it is really important to remove the conditions that led to that," chief White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters Sunday.
Israel expressed "regret" over the civilian casualties but rejected increased international pressure for an immediate ceasefire. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the village was a "safe haven" for militants.
It ordered an inquiry into the incident, with one official suggesting the lethal blast could have been caused by Hezbollah explosives.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's personal representative in Lebanon was "deeply shocked and saddened" by the civilian deaths, and called for an immediate ceasefire and an investigation.
In Europe, Finland, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said it was "shocked and dismayed" by the strikes.
"There is no justification for attacks causing casualties among innocent civilians, most of them women and children," it said in a statement, echoing condemnations from Scandinavian and other European countries.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett described the Qana raids as "quite appalling" and said Britain had "repeatedly urged the Israelis to act proportionately".
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed "profound pity" for the victims, calling on Israel to observe "proportion" in its attacks and avoid civilian casualties, and reiterating calls for a swift ceasefire.
Britain and Germany issued a joint statement saying the events at Qana "have underlined the urgency of the need for a ceasefire as soon as possible."
French President Jacques Chirac condemned the bombing as an "unjustifiable action which shows more than ever the need to agree on an immediate ceasefire".
Spain announced that Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, a former EU Mideast envoy, would visit Lebanon on Wednesday out of "solidarity with the Lebanese people and government."
The governments of Italy and Ireland also expressed their consternation, as did Greence, saying: "Nothing can justify the massive slaughter of civilians."
Switzerland said it acknowledged the right of Israel to defend itself but added: "The operations should adhere strictly to the rules of international humitarian law."
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said nothing could justify the Qana bombing, adding that the EU backed an "immediate ceasefire".
Morocco dubbed the attack "odious" and reiterated calls for the international community to press for an end to hostilities.
China "strongly condemned" the attack and reiterated calls for a ceasefire, state media said Sunday. A Chinese national was among four UN observers killed in an Israeli air strike in Lebanon last week.
Around 5,000 protesters marched in Belgium following the attacks, as did more than 600 in Paris.