Mid East Realities

REMEMBERING QANA

QANA! MASSACRE AND COVERUP NOT PUNISHED

MER - Washington, 4/16/97. Friday, April 18th, marks the one-year anniversary of one of the most brutal and unforgivable massacres in Middle East History. The name "Qana", like those of "Sabra and Chatilla" and "Deir Yassein", goes down in history as among Israel's most brutal and outrageous acts. And it should not be forgotten that with the ongoing and constant support and assistance of the United States, Israel could not act as it does nor prevent international sanctions against it. Even though the U.N. formally found that Israel had purposefully brought about the massacre and then grossly lied to cover up its deeds -- itself a unique finding for the U.N. and one which was further supported by an independent Amnesty International investigation and report -- to this date no one has been brought to justice and both the massacre and the cover-up have gone completely unpunished. Much flowed to and from Qana. Like the assassination of "The Engineer" in Gaza the previous January, Qana backfired on Shimon Peres personally. His attempts to look tough and act with military force in order to win the upcoming election instead resulted in a wave of Hamas suicide-attacks and the downward spiral in what was already a deceptive and disingenuous "peace process." And the defeat of Peres has since lead to another round in the "good cop/bad cop" maneuvering by the politicians who have a way of claiming things would have worked out, "if only" this or that... Of course the actual realities are otherwise. Just as the Qana massacre was so terribly distorted and covered-up; much the same is done daily by the same political players when it comes to what the "peace process" is really all about, rather than what they say it is all about. During the next week MID-EAST REALITIES will go back a year to the time of the last southern Lebanese war and the Qana massacre and present again things that MER sent out at that time when the events were fresh in our minds. This first reflection is an overview sent out on 26 June 1996:


M I D - E A S T R E A L I T I E S - S P E C I A L

QANA MASSACRE COVERUP SUCCESSFUL

U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL AND SEC-GEN BOUTROS-GHALI COLLAPSE UNDER U.S. PRESSURE

PERES' HOPE TO BECOME U.N. SEC-GEN UNDERMINED

In April, the Israelis brutally massacred over a hundred persons at the Qana U.N. Base in Southern Lebanon. A U.S./Israeli cover-up immediately took place. However unexpected hard evidence, including a video tape of the attack, convinced U.N. investigators that the attack was premeditated. Severe pressure was brought on U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali not to release the report to the Security Council or the public. However, after watering it down as best he could Boutros-Ghali was forced to release the report, some U.N. officials going so far as to indicate they would resign if he did not do so. Shamefully though the U.N. Security Council has refused to act on the report or to hold the Israelis accountable. Of course the American veto threat and tremendous pressures upon Boutros-Ghali and member states at the U.N. was behind this further demonstration of U.N. impotence and cowardice.

The only good thing to come from the Qana Massacre is that there is no longer a likelihood of Shimon Peres becoming Secretary-General of the U.N. Peres is known to covet the job. At first, shortly after Binyamin's Netanyahu's victory, Peres and his long-time aide Yossi Beilin, maneuvered to join another "national unity government" with Netanyahu as Prime Minister. Peres served as Foreign Minister in previous Likud-led governments, as did Yitzhak Rabin who served as Defense Minister. Realizing this effort would probably fail, at the same time Peres took steps to reinvigorate the idea of his being nominated to become U.N. Secretary-General -- an idea Peres (with American encouragement) had pushed prior to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The notion that since an Egyptian had been Secretary- General, now an Israeli should be selected, was one Peres and friends thought they could use to catapult him into the job. With Qana still fresh in memory, it seems this latest Peres gambit is running into considerable roadblocks though there may be further attempts to resuscitate the idea later this year.

In an ironic twist of fate, Peres' own most recent duplicity did him in. After a half-year cease-fire with Hamas, it was Peres' assassination of Yehya Ayyash, "the Engineer", in Gaza in January that unleased the terror-wave in the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, that in turn led to the attacks on Hizbollah in Lebanon, that then led to Qana -- all of which combined to lead to Peres' electoral defeat. In short, the Israeli people did not believe or trust Peres; and for good reasons. Certainly it would be the height of historical chicanery if the notion of Peres heading the U.N. after an American/Israeli effort to push out Boutros-Ghali should again be pushed forward.

Robert Fisk, writing in THE INDEPENDENT newspaper, has done more than any other investigative journalist to report about the realities of the recent situation in the Middle East -- the false "peace process"; the deceptions of Yasser Arafat as he pretends to have an embryonic State and emulates Israeli repression tactics against his own people; the duplicitous conduct of Rabin and Peres in preaching peace while pursuing Middle Eastern apartheid.

The following article by Fisk was published a few weeks ago in THE INDEPENDENT and uncovers more of the realities behind the Qana Massacre and Shimon Peres' decline.


THE DEADLY SECRET THAT LED TO BLOODBATH AT QANA

By Robert Fisk

Tyre -- An Israeli army operation to plant booby-trap bombs inside the United Nations zone in southern Lebanon led to the Qana massacre last month in which well over 100 Lebanese civilians were killed by Israeli shells while sheltering in a UN base. It now emerges that the Israeli "patrol" which came under mortar fire from Hizbollah guerrillas on 18 April -- the incident which led to the Qana bloodbath -- had been tasked to leave plastic explosive charges and mines near the village of Henniyeh, about five miles from Qana.

The UN's official report, which suggested that the Israeli massacre of civilians was deliberate, quoted Brigadier General Dan Harel, the commander of the Israeli army's artillery corps, as saying that an Israeli patrol, whose location was not given, had come under mortar fire from the Qana area and that at least one round landed 40m from the Israeli troops. What had not hitherto been revealed was the task the Israeli soldiers had been engaged in, north of their occupation area and inside the UN zone, when they came under fire. A similar and even more complicated field of plastic mines and booby traps was left by Israeli soldiers close to the village of Bradchit in the UN's Irish battalion area at around the same time.

Shortly after the Israeli bombardment ended, it now transpires, Israeli officers met UN ordnance officers and handed them detailed maps of the booby traps and mines they had planted. Polish troops subsequently defused the booby traps at Henniyeh on a hilltop from which Katyusha rockets had been fired in the past, although the Irish army took longer to complete its disposal of the Bradchit minefield.

What has caused particular concern to UN personnel is that it was a roadside bomb in the village of Bradchit that killed a Lebanese teenager last month, an explosion which prompted the Hizbollah to blame Israel and fire Katyushas across the border into Galilee in retaliation. Shimon Peres said at the time that Israel had nothing to do with the Bradchit bombs and the Katyusha retaliation set off Israel's bloody Grapes of Wrath offensive. But the revelation that an Israeli unit was planting booby-trap devices in Bradchit and Henniyeh on 18 April has cast new doubt on Mr. Peres's denial.

Nor did another claim by Mr. Peres during his abortive campaign for re-election --that the Hizbollah fired rockets at Israel from "within" the UN compound at Qana -- do anything to repair the cynical state of relations that now exist between Israel and the UN. Neither the Israeli army nor the UN believe that Hizbollah men opened fire on the Israelis from a UN position -- the Hizbollah did so several 100 metres from the outer perimeter of the Qana camp -- and UN officers are mystified as to why the Israeli Prime Minister should have made such a statement just before the election, when he must know that it is untrue.

"It was election time in Israel," a security source in southern Lebanon commented. "On such occasions, truth goes out the window."

The written ceasefire agreement that followed the end of the Israeli bombardment has meanwhile been rendered meaningless scarcely a day after Binyamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister.

The "monitoring committee" that was to have ensured that all parties complied with the truce terms has never met, and in the past three days the Hizbollah have killed four Israeli soldiers and two pro-Israeli militiamen inside the occupied zone of southern Lebanon. Since the ceasefire, the Israelis have also carried out three retaliatory air raids on Lebanon, without waiting for the truce committee to pronounce on Hizbollah attacks, as they are obliged to do under the truce agreement.

In an Israeli air raid on a Hizbollah arms dump near Baalbek before dawn yesterday, an attack which set off secondary explosions for an hour afterwards, three civilians were slightly wounded -- another breach of the ceasefire terms, which state that civilians should not be harmed in any Israeli-Hizbollah battles inside Lebanon. Two civilians were also reported to have been wounded when the Hizbollah killed four Israeli soldiers at Marjayoun on Thursday. THE INDEPENDENT SATURDAY - JUNE 1, 1996


MID-EAST REALITIES News, Information, & Analysis that Governments, Interest Groups, and the Corporate Media Do Not Want You To Know! + E N D + MERSPE56 + (end of 6/26/96)