Thursday, August 17, 2006

Returning to normal

Dear Friends,
The northern border has been quiet since the cease fire with Hezbollah came into force Monday morning.   People are beginning to return to their homes on both sides of the border.  And now the clean-up begins. 
It is a sobering thought that the damage in Lebanon was a totally predictable outcome of that nation's deliberate flaunting of UN resolutions demanding that it take control of its own territory and disarm the terrorists that were usurping it.  Instead, it invited those same terrorists to join its government.  Worse, it condoned and encouraged the war crimes of launching attacks against civilians in a neighbouring sovereign state and the use of its own citizens and civilian areas as  human shields.
Lebanese infrastructure and many private homes - including those used as weapons facilities and rocket launching pads - will need repair.  Iran has stepped up to the plate, and the Hezbollah will once again be its proxy.  Europe, concerned about the positive image Hezbollah will gain was quick to announce that they will set aside hundreds of millions in humanitarian aid, which it is channeling through charitable agencies, the UN and the Lebanese government. 
All in all, though, the message for those who survived will be that the war was not so bad for Lebanon.  Israel got the message, and Lebanon gets lots of new infrastructure houses, and even furniture.  All courtesy of international donors.
In all this, however, where is Israel?  The international community seems to have completely ignored the affect on ordinary Israeli citizens of the month of war, in which they were the direct and sole targets of Hezbollah's war crimes.  Which international charity or donor has come forward to offer even a token?
If you are surprised by the question, consider the extent that your media reported the damage to Israel.  Did you know that 500,000 Israelis fled their homes in the north, and that the rest were forced to spend long hours in bomb shelters? Have you heard of the stream of refugees returning to their homes in Israel's north, to confront their damaged houses, destroyed businesses, lost sales.  The international coverage has been almost completely focused on Lebanon.  Here, though, are the statistics for Israel.

Hezbollah rockets landing in Israel


Israeli civilians displaced by the war


Israelis killed                           


Israelis injured


Israeli civilians treated for shock and distress


Israeli Buildings destroyed                   


Israeli Trees destroyed                       


Financial cost of the war and related damage in Israel

    NIS 25 b

    Of this: military budget

NIS 7 b

One of the reasons that the media did not cover the story is that Israel moved its civilians out of danger to the extent possible.  All around the country not only did people take in friends and relatives, but also complete strangers.  The stories are many and heartwarming.  The stark contrast on the other side of the border, where civilians were used as human shields, and in some cases even physically prevented at gunpoint from fleeing is clear.
Of course, as is the case in the Palestinian Authority, international aid will be interpreted as tacit support for the war crimes that created the humanitarian disaster.  And Israel will be left to cope on its own.
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