Posted by: Lister | September 10, 2007

Coverage of Nahr al-Bared fighting

The fighting had stages. To begin with, the army surrounded the camp and fought from the outside — the results of such actions seem fairly obvious. A BBC headline, May 22nd: ‘Massacre’ at Lebanon refugee camp.

Anisa Ismail, another evacuee, compares what is happening at Nahr al-Bared to famous atrocities at other Palestinian camps in Lebanon.

“This is history repeating itself. It’s like the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. I lost my sister there. If they just want to hit Fatah al-Islam why are they cutting off the food and water and besieging us like this?”

[…] “At the hospital we have many injured. There is chest injury and abdomen injury. We have five children who are dehydrated because they have been three days without water, without any food,” [Dr Yusuf al-Sidi] says.

[…] “Our second main concern has really been the use by the Lebanese army of indiscriminate weapons,” Mr Houry says.

Robert Fisk’s article is another worth reading.

It may be that the Lebanese government heeded the criticism. On may 23rd, the BBC reported Refugees escape Lebanese clashes:

Thousands of people have used a lull in fighting between troops and Islamist militants to flee a refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

[…] The BBC’s Jim Muir, who is outside the camp, says both the Lebanese army and the Islamist militants are apparently still in place, and the unofficial truce could break down at any time.

UN head of humanitarian affairs John Holmes appealed to the warring sides to allow aid supplies into the camp. He said it was outrageous that a relief convoy which had entered the camp on Tuesday had been forced to turn back after shells exploded near its vehicles.

The Lebanese army put helicopters to use:

LAF technicians and engineers modified the UH-1H helicopters, raising the height of the landing skids and belly mounting bomb-release gear and pylons from retired Mirage-3 jets.

“Then we got out of the depots old bombs and fitted them with new detonators and loaded them on the helicopters and tested the system and it was a success,” the official said.

So far, the helicopters have dropped 250-kilogram and 400-kilogram bombs from altitudes between 3,000 and 4,000 feet. The pilots use GPS devices to help guide them from point of departure to the bomb-release point.

“The precision has been remarkable, with most bombs landing within a 10-meter radius,” Temsah said.

And the cost of rebuilding the camp will be remarkable, too. The destruction of infrastructure is OTT, in my opinion.

The army had by then let out almost all of the civilians. Towards the end, only the families of the militants remained. Lebanese Army to help families of terrorist fighters:

Between 40 and 80 civilians, mostly the wives and children of the militants, remain in the camp, Lebanese and Palestinians sources estimate. The camp lies in ruins after tank, artillery and helicopter bombardment.

By the end, 432 had died — 43 of them civilians. This is a high death toll. Maybe a negotiated peace could have been found. I don’t know the chances of that. But if the Lebanese army had gone killing civilians as carelessly as at the beginning… They would still be fighting now. The fighting would have spread to other camps, and people with no sympathy for Fatah al-Islam would have begun to fight against the Lebanese government.

LGF said the world yawned.
The world did not yawn. It was concerned. It criticised.


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