As this is being written, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon is moving toward its tragic conclusion in west Beirut. The invasion began with the stated goal of clearing Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) troops out of a 25-mile strip of southern Lebanon. But it has now decimated much of the southern half of that country and left up to 14,000, mostly Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, dead.
In mid-June a representative of the evangelical Christian relief group World Vision visited Sidon, on the coast of Lebanon, after the Israeli attack. He reported widespread devastation throughout business and residential areas of the city. Of the neighboring Palestinian refugee camp Ein El Halweh, home to 60,000 Palestinians, he reported, "The entire township had been totally razed by saturation bombing...large sectors were levelled to just one or two meters height.... [At the] Kineye Government Secondary School the smell of death penetrated the neighborhood. Nearby residents reported 255 cadavers remained there.... In the basement I counted over 50 bodies but stopped when I discovered a mountain of bodies in one corner. Men, women, children, infants apparently all killed by massive aerial bombardment exploding in their basement refuge."
That scene has been repeated time and time again in the last two months as U.S.-made anti-personnel cluster bombs, incendiary phosphorus shells, and other high-tech machinery of "conventional" warfare have rained upon the people of Lebanon. And as these people have suffered, so have hopes for a peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict.