All over the hills of south Lebanon hundreds of men like Sayed Ali and his comrades are waiting - some in bunkers, some in farm houses - for the Israeli troops to arrive...You might not have the stomach to read it all now, so put it aside for later.
[Someone] explains how Hizbullah teaches its fighters patience: "During our training we spend days in empty buildings without talking to anyone or doing anything. They tell me go and sit in that building, and I go and sit there and wait."
According to Ali, Hizbullah operates as "a state within the state", with its own hospitals, social organisations and social security system. "But we are also an Islamic resistance movement, an indoctrinated army," he adds. "I would go and knock the door at someone and say we need $50,000, he would give me [that] because they trust us."
Hizbullah prides itself on its secretiveness and discipline. "We don't take anyone who knocks at our door and says 'I want to join'. We raise our fighters. We take them when they are young kids and raise them to become Hizbullah fighters. Every fighter we have believes that the ultimate form of being is martyrdom.
Shia symbols and mythology play a big role in the ideology of Hizbullah... "Every one of those fighters is a true believer, he has been not only trained to use guns and weapons but [indoctrinated] in the Shia faith and the Husseini beliefs," Ali says.
He and his fellow fighters have been preparing for the latest conflict with the Israelis for years and he acknowledges the support received from Iran.
And even when the battle with the Israelis is over, he adds menacingly, Hizbullah will have other battles to fight. "The real battle is after the end of this war. We will have to settle scores with the Lebanese politicians. We also have the best security and intelligence apparatus in this country, and we can reach any of those people who are speaking against us now. Let's finish with the Israelis and then we will settle scores later. .."
The latest conflict is a war of survival not only for Hizbullah but for the whole Shia community. It is not only a war with Israel, their enemy for decades, but also with the Sunni community. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have all expressed fears of Iranian domination over the Middle East...
Even if the international community calls on Hizbullah to disarm as part of a peace deal, he and his men will not lay down their arms...
Monday, July 31, 2006
Ich wohnte bis 2002 in einem kleinen Dorf im Süden nahe Mardschajun, das mehrheitlich von Schiiten wie mir bewohnt ist. Nach Israels Verlassen des Libanon dauerte es nicht lange, bis die Hisbollah bei uns und in allen anderen Ortschaften das Sagen hatte. Als erfolgreiche Widerstandskämpfer begrüßt, erschienen sie waffenstarrend und legten auch bei uns Raketenlager in Bunkern an. Die Sozialarbeit der Partei Gottes bestand darin, auf diesen Bunkern eine Schule und ein Wohnhaus zu bauen! Ein lokaler Scheich erklärte mir lachend, dass die Juden in jedem Fall verlieren, entweder weil die Raketen auf sie geschossen werden oder weil sie, wenn sie die Lager angriffen, von der Weltöffentlichkeit verurteilt werden ob der dann zivilen Toten. Die libanesische Bevölkerung interessiert diese Leute überhaupt nicht, sie benutzen sie als Schilder und wenn tot als Propaganda. Solange sie dort existieren, wird es keine Ruhe und Frieden geben.
Dr. Mounir Herzallah
Hostages of Hezbollah
Until 2002, I lived in a small village near Marj Ayoun, which for the most part was inhabited by Shi'ite Moslems like myself. Once Israel left Lebanon in 2000, it didn't take long for Hezbollah to take control of our village and the others in the vicinity as well. Greeted and cheered as successful resistance fighters, they also set up missile storage facilities in bunkers inside our village. The social work activity of the Party of G-d [Hezbollah] consisted of establishing a school and putting a residential block directly on top of those bunkers. A local sheikh told me that the Jews are going to lose either way. Either they will get hit by the missiles or, if they attack the storage dumps, they are going to be universally condemned by public opinion because of the civilian deaths which will then happen. I knew that I had to protect my family against such "welfare" activities. These people don't care one bit about the welfare of the Lebanese population. They simply exploit them as human shields and, once they have been killed, for pure propaganda purposes. So long as they (Hezbollah) exist, there is no chance of any peace or any quiet.
Dr. Mounir Herzallah
George's note began by referring to the heroic-tragic death of Major Roi Klein (on which we published Dr. Nathan Cherny's tribute a few days ago here), a friend of George's son's brother-in-law. In that connection, he referred to a Torah shiur (a lesson) given by the rabbi of his synagogue, reviewing the halachic rulings of Rambam (Maimonides) and Ramban (Nachmanides) on warfare when fighting for the
The young soldier cheerfully greeted the rabbi and said "My name is Yiftach. I'm your son's commanding officer. Can I meet the rest of your family?"Thank you, George.
Perplexed, the rabbi introduced the young officer to the rest of the family. After learning all the family members' names, Yiftach asked if he could inspect the son's bedroom. The rabbi agreed and led him upstairs to his son's bedroom. While in the bedroom, he browsed through the books on the shelf for several minutes, taking some down and thumbing through the pages. Yiftach then requested to be allowed to go through the Rabbis son's closet. Agitated, the rabbi asked "What do you want!?"
Politely, Yiftach answered: "I'll tell you when we get downstairs.
The two continued downstairs where Yiftach continued: "Our unit will be going into battle shortly. This is my first field command. I believe that to be a good officer… I must first be a good educator and lead by example. I can only do that by getting to know every detail about every man in my squad. That's why I came here today."
Our rabbi stood amazed by Yiftach's caring, insight and emotional maturity.
Unfortunately Yiftach's military career was cut short 12 days later. He and 7 of his soldiers were killed in an ambush in the southern Lebanese
as they were looking for Hizbullah missiles and rockets that have wreaked havoc in Israeli population since this war began. villageof Bint Jbail
Unlike our superpower portrayal in the western media,
is a small country outnumbered 200 to one by over a billion Moslems. Everyone in Israel knows someone fighting on the front at this moment. We don't have to look far to know somebody who is connected to one of this war's casualties. Our son's brother-in-law and our rabbi are just two examples. Israel
Nevertheless, against all odds, we will achieve victory because we have no other choice. Unlike other nations we are not allowed the luxury to lose a single war. Against all odds, we will be victorious because of brave men like Major Roi Klein and Lieutenant Yiftach Shrayer who valued life above death.
Hassan Nasrallah has often bragged that Hizbullah will win this war because "the Jews consider life holy – we [Hezbollah] glorify death".
But soldiers like Roi and Yiftach will prove Nasrallah wrong. We will be victorious because, historically, sanctifying life has always triumphed over glorifying death. Intuitively, Roi and Yiftach felt this way when they went to and gave their lives in battle to help save others.
We owe it to them to continue their legacy.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
We know first hand the pain that the death of a child inflicts on the entire family. Five years after our precious daughter was murdered, the grief is raw.
We are certain that some of those who have expressed their sorrow today over the Lebanese deaths did so out of genuine compassion for the victims.
However, let's be brutally honest. Many of those who claim to be outraged and distressed today over the unnecessary loss of life are thrilled at the opportunity to join in the bash-Israel free-for-all.
When the innocent women and children are Israelis, the reactions heard 'round the world are few, tempered and carefully "balanced" so that they include rebuke of the victim, Israel, as well.
A case in point is the suicide bombing of August 9, 2001, where our Malki died.
On that day, fifteen innocent people - most of them children - were murdered. A sixteenth person, a young mother, remains unconscious until today. More than 130 people, most of them women and children, were mutilated and maimed but survived.
On that day, Kofi Anan could not even trouble himself to face any journalists. His spokesman was sent to read his statement that he deplores not only the act in question but "all acts of terror" - code words, as we know, for acts by Israel against terror organizations.
On that day, the Belgian EU Presidency unreservedly condemned the bombing and abhorred the cowardly act which"mainly claimed the lives of innocent civilians." Of course, every last one of the Israeli victims was innocent. But apparently the EU head found that a bit hard to digest. Presumably he was bemoaning the loss of the life of the murderer himself.
On that day, Marwan Barghouti, the Palestinian "hero", and now Israel's most molly-coddled murderer-prisoner, said the following:
"Attacks like today's are "the only way to end the occupation of Palestinian territories. This is a decision that the whole Palestinian people agree upon."On that day, the Pope said nothing.
On that day, the Security Council of the United Nations did not convene.
The massacre at the Sbarro restaurant did not take place in a building adjacent to rocket launchers or in the vicinity of any other weapons of war. There were no militants and no soldiers in the targeted building.
And there was certainly no warning issued to the customers to vacate the building in advance of the attack.
In that massacre, one entire family was decimated. Mother, father and three of seven children perished.
In that attack, an American couple's only child, pregnant with their first grandchild-to-be, perished.
Does anyone still believe there is one standard for both sides of this conflict?
"To all citizens south of the Litani River. Due to the terror activities being carried out against the State of Israel from within your villages and homes, the IDF is forced to respond immediately against these activities, even within your villages. For your safety! We call upon you to evacuate your villages and move north of the Litani River."
In the north: About 100 Katyusha missiles have fallen so far this morning, making plain that the aggression of Hezbollah which kicked this part of the war off is well and truly in place. It's clear they are delighted with the way all of this bedlam, all this human-shield war, is going. In Acre on the coast, a residential building took a direct hit today, wounding two people and leaving others in need of hospitalization for shock. 6 additional Katyusha missiles landed in Acre, and 30 in and around Kiryat Shmona; here too there were injuries and property damage. Eight missiles crashed into Nahariya, five into Ma'alot, four in or near Rosh Pina and two in Tiberias. Sirens also sounded in the Haifa suburbs, western and upper Galilee, Afula, Nazareth, Migdal Ha'emek and Beit Hashita. On Friday night, 3 Hezbollah missiles with especially large warheads of 100 kilograms each, landed in fields near Afula. On Saturday, at least 90 missiles crashed into northern Israel. Villages and towns as far as 15 kilometers from the point of impact reported hearing the explosions.
In the south: Not much coverage here. To paraphrase the old philosophical conundrum, if a Qassam rocket is fired into a civilian area by barbarians intent on causing as much damage, death and destruction as possible, and everyone is too busy with other matters, did it really fall?
Well, yes it did. Qassams have been falling with deadly constancy since Israel's northern front exploded with Hizbullah missiles 19 days ago. And they continue to be fired into Israel's southern towns. Sderot was a victim this morning. One missile struck a factory in Shaar Hanegev, an industrial area of the town. Several people were injured but thankfully there were no deaths. (This was not the intention of the people firing the missiles.) Had it struck a nearby workshop some thirty meters away, the likely toll would have been far greater and more newsworthy.
Yesterday a Qassam landed next to the kindergarten of Kibbutz Zikim, just south of Ashkelon, where children were engaged in a Frisbee class. Two children were seriously injured; eight others had to be treated in hospital for shrapnel injuries, shock and damage to the hearing. The kindergarten building was damaged. The Al-Quds Brigades, a unit of Islamic Jihad, proudly claimed responsibility, declaring that "the shooting will continue in response to IDF crimes against the Palestinians." On Friday, 5 more Qassams struck Sderot and Shaar Hanegev, and on Saturday others hit Sderot, Netiv Haasara, and southern Ashkelon.
Unfortunately for the farmers, kibbutznikim and townspeople of Israel's south - those living in the arc that abuts the Gaza Strip - the unending rain of Qassam rockets has been all but forgotten outside of their immediate vicinity. Hard to imagine, but only a year ago, the government of Israel carried out an immensely painful and controversial abandonment of Jewish communities in the area, in the stated hope that an unoccupied Gaza Strip would become as beautiful as it was when Israeli towns and greenhouses dotted it. Whatever the hopes of last summer, the outcome has been an unmitigated disaster.
In the center: Yet another intending bomber of women and children was seized this morning. The media call him a suicide bomber, but it's far more accurate and helpful to term him a religious fanatic intent on achieving mass murder at any price, including forfeiting his own life provided he can take Jewish lives with him. This time , Israeli security officers and soldiers from an elite IDF unit seized an explosive belt in a Palestinian taxi in a West Bank town, following pinpoint intelligence tips about plans by terrorists to carry out a suicide bombing attack in Israel. The intending bomber and his accomplice were arrested.
Scanning the television coverage of the bombing of a residential building in Qana, you can't help but notice how the analysts, reporters and commentators in place are adjusting the level of their emotional response to the noise and passion of the Lebanese around them. There are those who say our side needs to make more noise, be more emotional, more demonstrative, wave our arms in the air. But Israeli society wants life - and when a bomber is caught and prevented from carrying out his death-cult plan, it's highly appropriate that we remain subdued, say a silent prayer of thanks, and keep going about our lives.
Israelis have been grappling for a very long time with the moral issues that stem from being the objects of a war of terror conducted by a totally immoral enemy with a diabolical willingness to embrace death both for themselves and for anyone else who gets in the way. How do you fight back against an enemy who deliberately places himself behind civilians, women and children?
Others, far from Israel, will be confronting some of those issues now for the first time as the news media, aided by a gleeful Hezbullah, report on the death, destruction and ongoing tragedy in Qana. As you do, please keep in mind the other side of the story, communicated by the IDF Spokesman's office:
Regarding the incident in Qana: This morning, July 30th 2006, the IAF [Israel Air Force] attacked missile launch sites in the area of the village of Qana, an area from which hundreds of missiles were launched towards the city of Nahariya and the communities in the western Galilee. The IDF will defend the citizens of Israel from attacks by the Hezbollah and the responsibility for any civilian casualties rests with the Hezbollah who have turned the suburbs of Lebanon to a war front by firing missiles from within civilian areas. Residents in this region and specifically the residents of Qana were warned several days in advance to leave the village.18 Israeli civilians have been killed and over 400 have been wounded from these rocket attacks which have disrupted the lives of thousands in Israel.
The Israeli authorities have been almost universally damned for having caused destruction to the streets of Lebanon, and having triggered a civilian catastrophe. But as the missiles continue to rain down on Israeli, it's worth noting the Herald-Sun's documentary evidence of Hezbollah deliberately - cold-bloodedly - using high-density residential areas as staging areas and launch pads for their rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.
Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon. [These pictures] were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend.From personal experience, we know there will be few people who understand or care to think about the meaning of terror warfare being conducted from inside a civilian population. This is because most people still think of terror war in general and acts of terror carried into civilian life by Moslem terrorists in particular as being far, far away from their own lives.
But the citizens of Madrid, Bali, Beslan, New York, Washington, London, Paris, Ankara, Seattle [etc. etc. etc.] as well as Haifa, Jerusalem and Nahariya can confirm that we all have a very great deal to fear from these people and their colleagues.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Thus, because of our strong interest in everything Australian (since we're originally from Australia), we're republishing here the full text of a statement put out today by the Israel Defence Forces. If, after reading it, you're aware of press coverage that presents a different side to the event described, we'd be very glad to hear from you.
Office of the IDF Spokesperson
ANNOUNCEMENT July 28th 2006
This morning at 10:30 a.m. the IDF was contacted by the Australian embassy in
Israelto facilitate the safe passage of a convoy of foreign nationals and journalists from Tyreto the . The convoy was traveling to pick up foreign nationals in southern villageof Yarun Lebanonand bring them to . Tyre
The IDF was unable to coordinate the passage of the convoy for today due to the lack of advance notice. The IDF requested that the convoy not leave and coordinate a later time for its travel, noting that there was combat in the area and that it was dangerous to travel.
Despite the warning, and the request of the IDF not to depart, the convoy left
and began to make its way southward towards Nakura, from where they planned to head east towards Remish and Yarun, near the city of Bint Jbeil, where heavy fighting continues. Tyre
A representative from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the Australian embassy in
and made clear that the IDF would not be able to ensure the safety of the convoy and requested from the Ambassador urge the convoy to return. Israel
In addition, the IDF Northern Command contacted the U.N. and requested that they also warn the convoy not to advance further as they were headed into an area of heavy fighting, putting themselves and those traveling with them at great risk. The convoy, however, continued to advance, reaching the
, at which point the Australian Embassy was contacted again and was again urged to warn the convoy. After leaving Remish, the convoy turned around and in the area of Nekura an apparent mortar hit the ground near the vehicles. Despite claims in the media, there is no indication that this was IDF fire. villageof Remish
Two men were lightly injured and one of the vehicles apparently accidentally veered off the route, injuring two youths who were inside.
The IDF vehemently denies that the convoy was in any way targeted and stresses that all available channels were utilized to warn those leading the convoy that they were placing themselves and the forces operating in that area at great risk by traveling without any coordination. It should be noted that other convoys had coordinated their travel with the IDF in advance traveled along that very route yesterday and the day before without any incident taking place.
The IDF will continue to make every effort to assist and facilitate the passage of convoys evacuating foreign and Lebanese civilians from areas of combat in
Southern Lebanonand humanitarian convoys transporting aid to these areas.
Friday, July 28, 2006
This week saw some especially blunt words from UN leaders directed against Israel. When the UN bureaucracy, and especially its secretary-general, express itself, it's customarily with considerable restraint, avoiding the assertion of facts that might be subject to controversy, and with due respect to any sensitivities on one side of an argument or the other.
But not when the targest is Israel. Against Israel, it's long been open season at the UN. Basically, you can never go too far.
The background: Several members of the UN force in Southern Lebanon were killed after their post came under Israeli fire. The dead men came from Austria, Finland, Canada and China. Israel's ambassador to the US made the fairly obvious observation to the media that "'UNIFIL obviously got caught in the middle" of a gunfight between Hezbollah guerillas and Israeli troops.' That's not how it appeared to Kofi Annan who said he was "shocked" at Israel's "apparently deliberate targeting" of the UN post. He said it took place "despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that UN positions would be spared Israeli fire."
Yesterday, the widow of the unfortunate Canadian victim turned to the media, echoing Kofi Annan, and demanded an explanation from the Israeli authorities:
"I've been told ... that the Israelis chose to bomb that site with three guided missiles. They're UN soldiers. That should have been the safest place to be. They should not have bombed that site, period," the widow told reporters at a Canadian forces base in Kingston, Ontario.Now it appears that her late husband himself, tragically, provided some critically important information that - as far as we can tell - is being ignored by Mr Annan, the media and everyone else. Here's what a Canadian newspaper, The Ottawa Citizen, has now reported:
Hezbollah was using UN post as 'shield'That's the whole report. Does it provide a full explanation? Is Israel innocent? No, it's far too soon to tell, and war is far too confusing and chaotic for that. But it's the sort of information that helps people understand the tragic nature of events that are currently on top of us.
Canadian wrote of militia's presence, 'necessity' of bombing
The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a "shield" to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.
Those words, written in an e-mail dated just nine days ago, offer a possible explanation as to why the post -- which according to UN officials was clearly marked and known to Israeli forces -- was hit by Israel on Tuesday night, said retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie yesterday.
The strike hit the UN observation post in the southern Lebanese village of El Khiam, killing Canadian Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener and three others serving as unarmed UN military observers in the area.
Just last week, Maj. Hess-von Kruedener wrote an e-mail about his experiences after nine months in the area, words Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie said are an obvious allusion to Hezbollah tactics.
"What I can tell you is this," he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. "We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing.
"The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."
Those words, particularly the last sentence, are not-so-veiled language indicating Israeli strikes were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the post, said Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie.
"What that means is, in plain English, 'We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defence Forces)," he said.
That would mean Hezbollah was purposely setting up near the UN post, he added. It's a tactic Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie, who was the first UN commander in Sarajevo during the Bosnia civil war, said he's seen in past international missions: Aside from UN posts, fighters would set up near hospitals, mosques and orphanages.
A Canadian Forces infantry officer with the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the only Canadian serving as a UN military observer in Lebanon, Maj. Hess-von Kruedener was no stranger to fighting nearby.
The UN post, he wrote in the e-mail, afforded a view of the "Hezbollah static positions in and around our patrol Base."
"It appears that the lion's share of fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah has taken place in our area," he wrote, noting later it was too dangerous to venture out on patrols.
The e-mail appears to contradict the UN's claim there had been no Hezbollah activity in the vicinity of the strike.
The question of Hezbollah's infiltration of the area is significant because UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, speaking Tuesday just hours after the bombing, accused the Israelis of the "apparently deliberate targeting" of the base near Khiam in southern Lebanon.
A senior UN official, asked about the information contained in Maj. Hess-von Kruedener's e-mail concerning Hezbollah presence in the vicinity of the Khiam base, denied the world body had been caught in a contradiction.
"At the time, there had been no Hezbollah activity reported in the area," he said. "So it was quite clear they were not going after other targets; that, for whatever reason, our position was being fired upon.
"Whether or not they thought they were going after something else, we don't know. The fact was, we told them where we were. They knew where we were. The position was clearly marked, and they pounded the hell out of us."
Even if Hezbollah was not firing rockets at the time of the bombing, Maj. Hess-von Kruedener's e-mail indicates they were using a terrorist tactic of purposely drawing out enemy forces near a neutral site, said retired Capt. Peter Forsberg, who did two UN tours between 1993 and 1995 during the Bosnian war.
The UN's limited mandate, meaning that its observers are unarmed and have few options, put the observers in a poor position, he said.
If indeed Israel was attempting to hit Hezbollah fighters in the area, it hasn't yet used the excuse to explain its actions because it wouldn't make it any less guilty in the world's eyes, Capt. Forsberg said.
But we can say what a pity it is that the UN and its distinguished secretary-general has not felt it appropriate to comment on information that clearly makes the story a little less black and white than he made it appear.
Did Maj. Hess-von Kruedener's email make it into your news media? And how about the reports of Hizbullah forces opening fire this week on UNIFIL in the same area? Right, that's what we thought.
Shabbat Shalom - may the peace of Sabbath quieten the missiles and their masters.
"...For some of the Christians who had made it out in this convoy, it was not just privations they wanted to talk about, but their ordeal at the hands of Hezbollah — a contrast to the Shiites, who make up a vast majority of the population in southern Lebanon and broadly support the militia. “Hezbollah came to Ain Ebel to shoot its rockets,” said Fayad Hanna Amar, a young Christian man, referring to his village. “They are shooting from between our houses. Please,’’ he added, “write that in your newspaper.”Read the whole article here.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
From early in the afternoon yesterday, the news was grim. Glimpses emerged from the fog of war... first news of a difficult battle, then news of "many casualties".
By the time I left the hospital, reports of 22 injured. Only late in the evening was it revealed that 8 young men had been killed.
Today the full extent of the tragedy has emerged. The names and pictures of the boys and young men fill the screens and the papers. A pall of sadness hangs over all of us working in the day oncology hospital. We all share the gut-wrenching awareness that, inevitably, there will be more in the days and weeks ahead.
Hanan, our Palestinian social worker, confided that she felt uncomfortable speaking to one of our East Jerusalem patients in Arabic in front of the Jewish patients whose eyes were riveted on the streaming news coverage from the front. Usually comfortable with everyone, and much beloved by all, she feared that she too would be a focus of hatred in these miserable days of bloody conflict.
I have never been a soldier (thank goodness) and it seems no coincidence that most soldiers everywhere are single young men. Most are filled with macho bravado, ideals of responsibility, surging testosterone and are unshackled by the responsibility towards loving dependants. That is true for most but not all.
Roi Klein was more than 10 years older than most of the young soldiers under his command. He was married to Sara and together they had 2 young sons. They lived in the hilltop settment of Eli half an hour from Jersalem, along with several of my patients.
Personally, I find it difficult to recondite how a young man with so many personal responsibilities can commit himself to the known risks of being a battalion commander...
Today's paper carried a glimpse of the mentality. The front page carried a quote from the words of a company commander leading his soldiers into the fray:
"It's our turn to protect the border. And we'll carry out any mission we need to, against any force, in the best way possible. If we don't, we have no right to exist.We will not lose this war. We did not start it, but it's our duty to protect the Jewish nation and see to it that the residents of Metula and Haifa can live in peace. If we don't do it, no one will. We waited 2,000 years for our own state, and we won't fold because a group of terrorists think that they can scare us.Someone who cannot protect his freedom does not deserve it. When missiles and rockets land on all the northern cities and reach Haifa, and when two of our soldiers have been kidnapped and ten have been killed and dozens have been wounded - this is no time to talk, it's time to fight. From the moment we cross the border, you must be super alert, super sharp. We are threatened from every side. Each of you is responsible for his comrades."The last 8 words tell the grim tale of Major Roi Klein as told by his comrades.
When, in the course of the ambush, a grenade was thrown in among his young soldiers. Roi leapt onto to it, covering with his all, to protect his young solders from the blast. His last words were in accordance of the Jewish tradition of one who is about to die: "Shema Yisrael.." Here Oh Israel the Lord is G-d, the Lord is one.
I wonder what thoughts flashed through his mind in the those final seconds. Thoughts of the lives he was saving (and he saved many in this act). Thoughts of his parents, his wife and his young boys. Thoughts of the rolling hills surrounding his hilltop home. Thoughts of the country under missile fire that he was trying to stop.
And with that he was gone... leaving his soldiers, leaving his parents, his friends, his wife and his young sons.
For Roi, in the conflict of his awesome and awful responsibilities, I have only tears... Tears for him and for his family. Tears for the senseless hatred that has taken the likes of him.
A conversation about
Israel Dialogue [ Listen Now ]
- Isabel Kershner: Associate Editor at the Jerusalem Report; author of "Barrier: The seam of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".
ArnoldRoth: Lawyer; father of Malki, who was killed in a suicide attack in Jerusalem; he is a passionate advocate for the victims of terrorism in . Israel
- Naomi Chazan: Professor of political science at Hebrew University; former senior member of the Israeli parliament - the Knesset - from 1992-2003; actively involved in Middle East peace negotiations for 30 years.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Hundreds are dead and the airstrikes and rocket launches go on. There's plenty of talk of a ceasefire but no sign of any real diplomatic progress. Can peace be brought to Lebanon and Northern Israel? Is the international community helping or hindering the process? Jonathan Charles puts these questions to senior international figures.The BBC's choice of senior figures was: Marwan Muasher, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan in Amman; Mark Malloch Brown, Deputy Secretary General at the UN; Edward Gnehm, Former US Ambassador to Jordan in Washington; and Lord Hannay, Former UK Ambassador to the UN in London.
There's no transcript, but the words of Mark Malloch Brown in particular struck fear and loathing in the hearts of those of us who understand the meaning of terror and its awful consequences. Here's what we heard (and again - there's no transcript yet so we may have missed a syllable or two):
The world has to recognize that Hezbollah is not just a terrorist organization. It is immensely popular among the Lebanese. It provides health and educational services to the Lebanese. It is, therefore, also a political entity.It's an interesting way of viewing things. There are always going to be people for whom Mussolini was not a brutal dictator but the man who made the trains run on time. Which may also be untrue, according to one knowledgeable insider who says: "It's just that no one dared to report it when they were late".
The revelation of Mark Malloch Brown's personal viewpoint is not just upsetting. It's threatening to the success of his work and the work of many other people. If it's an accurate reflection of how the man, who also serves as Kofi Anan's Chef de Cabinet, thinks, then it undermines much of what civilized nations are trying to achieve when they organize themselves against terror.
There's no terror group anywhere without its supporters. There's no terrorist organization that is nothing more than a terrorist organization. All of them have multiple dimensions. Does this mean anything? Terrorism is terrorism. We took part in the first international congress of terror victims which met in Spain two years ago. Someone should read the declaration issued at the end of that congress to Mark Malloch Brown and his team. It includes these words:
"Terrorism is never justifiable... Whatever its form, terrorism is always an unjust and unjustified, cruel, abominable and repulsive crime. It is an affront to the most basic rights of individuals and communities..."It's disturbing to know that the UN's highest-level civil servant seems to think otherwise.
By the way, did anyone think the UN has a convention against terrorism? It doesn't, and not for lack of effort. The reasons why are especially disturbing.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Terrorist organizations operate from within civilian population, while cynically exploiting uninvolved civilians and using them as human shields, taking advantage of their homes to store weaponry and launch rockets at Israeli towns from populated areas. From now on, the IDF intends to attack weapon storage facilities, including those located in houses, and the sites from which rockets are being launched and terror attacks are dispatched against the citizens of Israel. The IDF is operating with restraint in order to reduce the risk to the Palestinian population. The operation is aimed at terror organizations, headed by Hamas, at the cells who launch rockets at Israel and the terror infrastructure, that have turned the Gaza Strip into a terror zone.As statements of intentions go, this one seems fairly explicit. The rules of the game, if not exactly changing (though maybe they are), are at least being made very clear. If our civilian centers are bombarded by yours, then when it comes down to a choice between respecting your homes, towns and settlements and taking out the weapons of terror, we'll take them out.
As for Israel's humanitarian actions, see this.
Allow us please to state the main part of that para one more time. We don't want the message to be lost. There are thousands of innocent Lebanese victims. Many deaths, many maimings and permanent injuries. The destruction of quiet, civilized lives and life. This is a truth which media talking-heads, analysts, editors, cartoonists, journalists, politicians, humanitarian activists, photographers, racist rabble-rousers, Islamic men of religion and others want the world to understand.
On behalf of the world, I'm hereby saying it: we understand, we get it, we know. Now, let's try to make sense of what it means so that we can all move ahead by asking this question:
Does it mean that Lebanon is therefore right? Does it mean that Israel, undoubtedly the party doing the shooting at Lebanon, is wrong?
Yes, if you believe right-vs-wrong is a function of who's suffering more. If this is how you feel, you're in safe company. There is a very, very large number of opinion-formers who think and speak this way.
But if the numbers (ten to one, as we write, meaning some 390 Lebanese are reported to be dead, versus 37 Israelis so far) are going to be your moral guide, allow us to draw your attention to some overlooked or little-appreciated aspects of that viewpoint:
- Hezbullah is thoroughly integrated inside Lebanese society. Their missiles are fired from within Lebanese villages. This has been the case for six years at least.
- Until May 2000, Israel and friendly Lebanese forces controlled the far-south of Lebanon. This ended with a unilateral Israeli decision to take a chance for peace. Our prime minister at the time was Ehud Barak. On 24th May 2000, he said: "From now on, the government of Lebanon is accountable for what takes place within its territory, and the Lebanese and Syrian governments are responsible for preventing acts of terror or aggression against Israel, which is from today deployed within its borders."
- The Israeli leader's words were ignored. What happened in that region from that day onwards was decided by Lebanon and its leadership. They decided to do nothing when Hezbullah began a six-year uninterrupted process of filling every basement and crevice with deadly weaponry, all of it pointed at Israeli towns, cities and homes. Lebanon's government with its police and army and moral righteousness could have stopped Hezbullah. Instead they invited it into the Lebanese government where it now sits. You can say Lebanon is weak, impotent, out-numbered. But you can't ignore the Lebanese leadership's culpability in what followed.
- Newspaper articles like "On the Frontline, Historic Tyre is Paying the Price of Conflict", distributed in the past two days by the Agence France Press newsagency, are typical of the shallowness and history-ignorant thinking that proliferate this week. Tyre's suffering is real, but where is it mentioned - other than in the Israeli media - that Tyre has served for the past six years, up to and including today, as Hezbullah's massive arsenal of civilian-targetting missiles and other weapons of terror? This cannot be an irrelevant aspect of such an important story. So why is it so consistently ignored?
- We can't vouch for its accuracy but there is a report, familiar-sounding in this part of the world, of how Hezbullah treats its Lebanese brothers and sisters. "I can confirm this report also. A Lebanese friend has told me that family members are trapped in a village close to the border and are being prevented from leaving by Hizbollah fighters who are setting up rocket positions around the village. Her uncles' words were 'we are waiting for death'. They are terrified of retaliatory Israeli strikes, but can do nothing when threatened by armed guerillas." Source: Live from an Israeli Bunker
- Israel's pre-eminent and widely quoted military journalist, Zeev Schiff, writes: "In one known case, a bomb struck a basement and killed those inside. Later, it turned out that of the 32 casualties, mostly dead, 11 were armed Hezbollah militants. The basement served Hezbollah and civilians that sought cover. In the current fighting there is no alternative but to convince the citizens of the city to leave, and make it easy to do so. But it is unclear whether Hezbollah will allow the evacuation of civilians from Tyre."
- Yes, we know you might view this as misleading Israeli propaganda. But if there's going to be uncritical reporting of horror stories from unconfirmed (and largely unconfirmable) Lebanese sources, please acknowledge that there are reports from usually respected Israeli sources that throw light on an entirely different way of viewing things. Or else admit that you're not going to do this, and tell us why.
- For what it's worth, those words of Zeev Schiff's above were published 36 hours ago, and are directly quoted in not a single news source (according to Google News) other than Haaretz. Given that Schiff has been routinely quoted very widely over decades in many of the world's leading papers, this is extraordinary.
- At a slightly more abstract, philosophical level, there's a wonderful essay in yesterday's New York Times. It's entitled "He Who Cast the First Stone Probably Didn't" and takes an analytical look at your viewpoint, i.e. that when someone attacks you, it's alright to hit back, just not too hard. If you read nothing else today, read Daniel Gilbert's essay and don't be put off by his being a professor of psychology at Harvard.
- There are plenty of Lebanese who are appalled at what Lebanese tolerance for the Hezbullah insanity has done to their country. This for instance from a Lebanese blogger: "Curse you Hezbollah to hell and back! For all this destruction, for all this death! No it is not Israel fault! It is your own! Curse you!"
- We are parents of a child who was murdered in cold-blood by Hamas terrorists. Our daughter was not caught in any cross-fire; she was not collateral damage. She and the others murdered that day five years ago were the target. So we know the central truth that most Israelis have learned. The terrorist enemy is hard to identify. If only they wore badges identifying themselves as practitioners of barbarism. But they don't. This means that when you fight them, as you absolutely must, you run risks of harming the innocent. There is no other way. You must try to be moral and selective - as we believe Israel does - but you must never lose sight of this reality: if you do not stop them, their incomprehensible determination to destroy will bring unbearable pain and suffering on their targets.
Through no desire to be at war, and for no strategic reason that anyone can identify, Israel is suffering greatly. (16 missiles have struck Haifa this morning already.) The source of that suffering is Hezbollah. The suffering will continue until Hezbollah is physically unable to go on. No one, other than the victims of Hezbollah, can or will stop them. The Lebanese people and their leadership are either part of the problem or part of the solution. There is no other way.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Like many Israeli families, we hosted friends from one of the northern towns in our home this past Shabbat. The previous Shabbat, they had spent inside a bomb shelter close to their home, so even our apartment was a step up for them.
They phoned earlier this evening to say a missile has just crashed into the garden of their home. The shakiness was evident in the voice on the phone. Since we can't convey shakiness very well, here are some images kindly sent by Lenny Maschkowski who photographed this bombing scene in Haifa on Sunday.
Considering there have been more than 2,000 missile strikes on Israel since the start of this latest phase of this ongoing war, we can all safely assume scenes like the one depicted in this series of snaps are being played out constantly in various parts of northern and southern Israel.
As we keep asking: What's a proportionate response to that?
JBlog Central indexes blog entries from around the world and brings them to you in a format that allows you to read and rate each entry. That way, you give your opinion on which blogs are worthwhile for other people to read... JBlog Central selects the best entries in the blogosphere by tabulating our reader's opinions on blogs and news articles. There is no single editor or moderator who controls the order of the articles on the front page. Instead, it is a reflection of the collective votes of our readers.This morning , our blog went to number one. A humble thank you to all.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Bearing in mind that:
- Hizbullah is estimated to have had about 13,000 missiles in their arsenal when they started this war, and has a clearly demonstrated willingness to use every last one;
- 93 such missiles landed in various parts of Israel today
- killing two people - Habib Awad, 48, of Aabalin; and 60-year-old Shimon Glikblich - in Haifa, to bring the total number of Israelis killed by Hizbullah missiles in their living rooms or running to bomb shelters in this Hizbullah war to 37
- Hizbullah has no stated strategic goals other than (a) surviving - which they have said amounts to victory and (b) destroying Israel and if not now then at some point in the future;
- About a million Israelis are living under direct missile threat from Hizbullah, many of them sleeping tonight in bomb shelters;
- Nasrallah and his jihadist fanatics have no strategic demands...
- and have spent six years entrenching themselves in southern Lebanon as a state within a state under the noses of the authorities in Beirut and the bosses of those authorities in Damascus;
- And - finally - anyone having minimal familiarity with the realpolitik of this region understands that Hizbullah is a willing proxy for the Mullahs of Iran who are happy to see them throw everything they have at the Israelis, and fight and die to the last Lebanese
Write a headline that can replace the one composed by the editors of The Independent. To get your creative juices going, a couple of suggestions:
- Hizbullah missile war: Who gives a damn about dead Israelis?
- That shitty little country: Who wants the problem eliminated?
- Jihadism - Who doesn't have a clue what it is, or what to do about it?
Judges' decision final. Go to it, folks. Entries close on Wednesday 26th July at noon, Jerusalem time (the first day of the month of Av).
On commercial television, there's more. El Al are saluting their pilots - many of whom serve as reserves in the air force - via an emotional TV ad, for their devotion to the national effort. (El Al is no longer the property of the government following last year's privatization.) Sano, a maker of cleaning products, is engaging at their own expense at morale-raising via newly-created TV ads saluting the steadfastness of the Israeli public. Natal, which provides mental health services at times of stress, is running a fairly intensive campaign inviting those who have a hard time dealing with their homes and towns being blown up to call them and get help. Magen David Adom, the ambulance service (and Israeli affiliate of the International Red Cross) is reminding us, via a new TV ad, of what great work they're doing under very difficult circumstances. SMILE, one of Israel's larger Internet Service Providers is running cheery TV ads that offer two months of free internet connectivity as its contribution to the war effort.
The three free-to-air TV stations (channels 1, 2 and 10) are all operating on an essentially 24-hours-of-news-and-talk format, much of it direct coverage from Haifa and the north. We've just watched an interview in English between one of the news readers and a Lebanese blogger called Yasmine. Here's the key part:
Israeli News-Reader: Do you think the Hizbullah are going to give up?Since we're glued to our televisions like most of the population of this stressed-out country, we'll be sharing other aspects with you in the coming days.
Yasmine: Fanatics never give up. I just hope their supplies run out.
INR: How do the Lebanese feel about the Hizbullah? Do they support them?
Yasmine: Only the Shi'ites do. Nobody that I know supports them. We just want to be free of them.
Q. Isn't Israel's approach to the fighting disproportionate?
It's claimed that Israel's military response to, initially, the provocative kidnapping of two Israeli servicemen on Israeli soil and, almost immediately afterwards, the Hizbullah missile barrages, is disproportionate. Also, that Israel is striking at civilians and infrastructure and in doing so, is irretrievably and unfairly pushing the fragile Lebanese economy and social infrastructure back into the dark ages of the eighties when civil war devastated the country.
But as we have pointed out in this blog, the IDF reports to the media every day, and in its briefings it discloses the nature and number of the targets it has attached that day. There's no doubt there are civilian casualties on the Lebanese side. But the vast majority result from the deliberate Hizbullah policy of placing its military equipment and its fighters among civilians, embedding them as deeply as possible within the civilian infrastructure. Katyusha launch pads are usually located in residential areas. Katyusha missiles are stored in villages, often inside or underneath civilian homes. Those are strategic realities that no one denies.
The IDF routinely gives advance notice of its plans to attack some emplacements by dropping leaflets onto those residential areas. Paraphrasing the message conveyed by those leaflets, here is what Israel says to its neighbours to the north:
You have terrorists among you, and they are firing on our homes. We would like them to stop but they're not stopping. Indeed, we don't see anyone - and most certainly not your Lebanese government or any third party in our neighbourhood - who is going to step in and stop these barrages. No one is as interested as we are to stop them, and we're going to do it now. So take your families and your possessions and get out immediately, or be prepared for the consequences. Is this fair? No, but the possibility of fairness and a happy outcome ended when Hizbullah took control of your neighbourhood six years ago. So now one of two bad things is going to happen. Either we Israelis are going to engage in self-help and remove the men and the armaments that are raining destruction down on our homes and our families. Or else we are going to remain on the sidelines with our arms folded while the Hezbullah in your midst pack up, move out and leave your neighbourhood restored to its previously peaceful state. Our experience tells us that only one of these possibilities is real; the other is fantasy, and we are suffering too much damage in Haifa, Nahariya, Tsfat, Meron, Acre, Kiryat Shmoneh and all the other towns, cities and settlements now under fire to allow fantasy to dictate policy. So unfortunately our bottom line is: leave now for your own sakes and allow us to exercise the most basic, elemental right which a sovereign state has - indeed which every sovereign state in the history of mankind has reserved to itself since time immemorial. The right to defend its population. If there's going to be damage and unhappiness, we prefer it be yours than ours, though we would much rather avoid all unhappiness and all damage. But in the current circumstances, that's just fantasy.It ought to be self-evident, but evidently is not, that Southern Lebanon would be tranquil and safe if Hizbullah had not moved in, grabbed control and turned it into a war zone. The Lebanese authorities will have to give an account at some future moment for their complicity in this appalling state of affairs.
Q. Yes, but isn't Israel grossly over-reacting to the kidnapping of its soldier? If Israel would exercise more restraint, this crisis would have blown over sooner or later.
Western journalists who hold to this line, and there are many, deserve our contempt. The relevant facts are beyond dispute and journalists who ignore them are ignorant or working to a personal political agenda.
Hizbullah's vast arsenal throughout the southern half of Lebanon comprises thousands of missiles with short, medium and and long range capabilities. Though the organization is not a sovereign state, has no elections and answers to no one, it is lavishly well-supplied in an active manner by Iran and Syria and in a less-active, but no less important, manner by Lebanon. The ability to exploit its uninterrupted control of half of the territory of a supposedly independent country (Lebanon) provides the sharpest possible contrast with the Palestinian Authority which has been miserably ineffective in garnering tangible support from sympathetic neighbours. In this sense, Nasrallah - Hizbullah's supreme leader - has demonstrated world-class political skills and business acumen. The ranks of his well-disciplined terror organization are equipped with outstanding quantities and quality of arms, explosives and training. Without a doubt, Hizbullah today constitutes a concrete and substantial threat to Israel and its people. The kidnappings were the opening gambit; the missile attacks which immediately followed were the fruit of six years of careful planning.
Q. Then what do you believe Hizbullah's strategy is?
Hizbullah has never tried to hide its goal. It's explicit, simple and public. Everything Hizbullah does is calculated to bring about the destruction of Israel. Hizbullah did not commence its operations yesterday, and has been involved in countless terror attacks in Israel and outside Israel (in Argentina, for instance, where scores of Buenos Aires Jews were murdered in two Hizbullah showcase operations in 1992 and 1994).
In practical terms, what's truly life-threatening and intolerable is Hizbullah's unparalleled missile capacity. Where else in the world, or in history, is there a stockpile of tens of thousands of missiles controlled by a self-appointed non-governmental association? And one with an agenda calling for the literal destruction of a nation? Established inside six years' worth of cement infrastructure and scattered throughout a compliant countryside, Hizbullah is the face of terrorist wars to come. It's the prototype.
So far, more than 1,600 missiles have been fired into Israeli towns, homes, cars and hospitals since the Hizbullah war began. 734 were fired between July 13th and July 19th. Pause for a moment and imagine what it feels like to live with a rain of deadly missiles going on for day after day. More than a million Israelis live and work in communities that are under missile attack right now. Tens of thousands of Israelis will spend tonight in bomb shelters. Hizbullah's strategy, if that's what we can call it, is to do more of the same. They have demonstrated that they will keep doing it until they're stopped. No one is about to stop them, other than Israel. And while there are very few Israelis who believe a resolution can come from military actions, Israeli society from one end of its political spectrum to the other has demonstrated a historically unparalleled unanimity around the idea that - while resolution is something we all want to see - we'll settle right now for taking Nasrallah and his Party of Gd out of the game any way we can. The sooner this happens, the sooner our neighbours, the Lebanese, will get their country back. And the sooner both countries can get on with developing long-range solutions for living side by side with or without the involvement of outside help.
(Filed October 2001)
On October 13, 2000, outside London's main mosque several hundred demonstrating Muslims shouted "Kill the Jews," as leaders standing on a platform burned American and Israeli flags. This demonstration was led by Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who issued a written statement that designated the American "army, embassies, bases and planes" legitimate targets for Muslims worldwide. It is one step from that written incitement to the chants of the mob of his followers: "Down, down USA, USA, you will pay, Osama is on his way." The mob was warning the world of its support for Osama Bin Laden. "Bomb, bomb Tel Aviv, bomb, bomb the White House, bomb, bomb Downing Street." That incident took place eleven months before the attacks on America on September 11, 2001. Who paid attention? British policemen on the scene took no action, except to try to prevent the blockading of a road in front of the mosque, ignoring the frenzied incitement. The following Monday morning, October 16, three days after the riot outside the mosque, an orthodox Jewish student, 20-year old David Meyers, was stabbed more than 20 times with a six-inch blade while traveling in a bus in London. He was wearing a kippah and reading from a book of Psalms when he was stabbed; an Arab man was arrested and charged with attempted murder. Muslim leaders like Syrian born Bakri Mohammed, the leader of al-Muhajiroun which has been reported to have ties to Bin Laden, and seeks to create a "world Islamic state," inflame the darkest recesses of the irrational element of people who have been nurtured on hatred and racism from a very early age. It is only another step or two for some who fervently believe they will be honored shaheeds (martyrs) when they commit suicidal acts against infidels, and that they will be rewarded with the bounty of paradise including 70 virgins upon their arrival. Irrational? Exactly! And this is the primary reason that no amount of appeasement on the basis of rational principles will prevail against terrorism.
Cleric supports targeting children
Telegraph (UK) - Rajeev Syal
(Filed: 5th September, 2004)
An extremist Islamic cleric based in Britain said yesterday that he would support hostage-taking at British schools if carried out by terrorists with a just cause. Omar Bakri Mohammed, the spiritual leader of the extremist sect al-Muhajiroun, said that holding women and children hostage would be a reasonable course of action for a Muslim who has suffered under British rule... Mr Mohammed, 44, who lives in Edmonton, north London, but is originally from Syria, also claimed that the Chechen rebels were not responsible for the deaths of more than 350 people - at least half of them children - who are so far known to have died in Beslan... The father of seven came to Britain in 1985 after being deported from Saudi Arabia because of his membership of a banned group. He has since been given leave by the Home Office to remain in Britain for five years but the Government is reviewing his status.
Islamist cleric declared war on Britain six months ago
The Times (UK) - Sean O'Neill
(Filed 12th July, 2005)
The London bombings occurred exactly six months after an extremist cleric based in the capital declared that Islam was at war with Britain. Investigators are examining their limited records on the followers of Omar Bakri Mohammed to determine if any have been recently recruited into an active terror cell. In 2003 two of Mr Bakri Mohammed's students, Asif Hanif and Omar Sharif, left home in Britain and took part in a Hamas suicide mission in Israel... Tracking Mr Bakri Mohammed's followers has become particularly difficult since last year when he disbanded his al-Muhajiroun group and began to preach clandestinely via internet chatrooms. In talks monitored by The Times in January, Mr Bakri Mohammed declared a shift in the view of Britain held by radical Islamists. He said: "Al-Qaeda and all its branches of the world, that is the victorious group and they have the emir. You are obliged to join."
Bakri banned from Britain as he loses his refugee status
Telegraph (UK) - Andrew Sparrow
(Filed: 13th August, 2005)
Omar Bakri Mohammed was banned from Britain yesterday as the Government intensified its action against Muslim extremists. Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, used existing powers to take away the radical preacher's refugee status on the grounds that his presence in Britain was "not conducive to the public good"... "It's a democracy, not a dictatorship," the Deputy Prime Minister said... The Home Office refused to say why Bakri, who came to Britain seeking asylum 20 years ago, was being banned now when for years his controversial activities were tolerated by the authorities... Yesterday his spokesman, Anjem Choudray, said: "I think it is completely outrageous that the Government can just exclude someone on the basis that they disagree with his views. He has never been charged with a criminal offence in this country. He has been living here for 20 years - he has a wife, children and grandchildren here."
Extremist Islamist has returned - via internet
The Times (UK) - Sean O'Neill and Yaakov Lappin
(Filed 21st October, 2005)
The exiled radical Islamist cleric Omar Bakri Mohammad is continuing to reach his followers in Britain through websites and internet chatrooms. After a period of silence that came after Bakri Mohammad's decision to leave Britain for Lebanon to avoid the threat of arrest and deportation, his followers have re-emerged online. They have been detected using a chatroom labelled "Muslims in the UK" to deliver lectures that deliberately challenge proposals in the Terrorism Bill to outlaw the glorification of terrorist acts. The nature of the material suggests that Bakri Mohammad's movement is prepared to be more explicit in its preachings and teachings.
Radical Cleric Omar Bakri asks Muslims to leave Europe
Asharq al Awsat - Mohammed Al Shafey
(Filed 26th September 2005)
London, Asharq Al-Awsat-- Omar Bakri Mohammed, the radical Muslim cleric, called on his followers in the al Ghurabaa movement and al Muhajiroun, which disbanded itself in October 2004, to join him in the Lebanese capital... The cleric who had sensationally called the September 11, 2001 hijackers the "Magnificent 19", urged his fellow Islamists to leave British soil if they are to continue spreading their beliefs, "in the name of God". Omar Bakri revealed a number of new converts to Islam, who hailed from Britain, Ireland, and other European countries, intended on traveling to Beirut and enroll on three-month Arabic course. Despite being forbidden from returning to the United Kingdom, the radical cleric denied abandoning his students in London. He expressed his sorrow at having to be separated from his Muslim followers and indicated that in 20 years spent preaching, he had educated hundred of students. Omar Barki ruled out returning to Britain even if circumstances changed. "Even if I was given large sums of money and a British passport, I will not be retuning to land of infidels", he told Asharq al Awsat... He described his new life in Beirut as good and stable and said religious leaders he had visited had welcomed him warmly. "Life is good here, praise be to Gd. I am treated differently here", he added. Omar Bakri, who had predicted the London bombings, said, "The people of Lebanon respected preachers and students of religion and revered their opinions and showed them respect, unlike in Britain." Calling for "all Muslims to leave Europe", he predicted, "the Islamic flag will be raised over Downing Street", the Prime Minister's residence in London.
Bakri 'begged to be evacuated from Lebanon'
Telegraph (UK) -
Omar Bakri Mohammed, the controversial Islamic preacher banned from returning to Britain, has begged the Royal Navy to rescue him from Beirut. The Muslim cleric, who left Britain for Lebanon in August last year, has already tried and failed to board a British ship heading out of the region. He also wrote to the British embassy to plead for special treatment on "humanitarian grounds"... He insists that despite being in a neighbourhood targetted by Israeli bombers, he's not concerned about his personal safety. His wife today urged the Government to take pity on her husband, saying that their six children- the youngest aged seven - miss their father.