Tuesday, July 18, 2006

First Britons escape Lebanon

Escape - Britons return to high petrol prices

The evacuation of British nationals began this evening as navy warships neared the Lebanese coast. But as the first 180 of several thousands left the country, many thousand Lebanese were left to an uncertain future. By air, sea and land other nationals left in unprecedented scenes. France has 14,000 left stranded and the US also has over 25,000 citizens caught in the warzone. As French, British, Italian and US warships sat off the coast ready to evacuate their citizens to safety, other nationals had to make their own way to escape the violence. By car, four wheel drive vehicle and even on foot, thousands are fleeing towns and cities across Lebanon. There has been continued criticism of the slow pace in which Britain reacted, and in comparison with some countries Britain’s effort is indeed somewhat tardy.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have also been slow. Condoleezza Rice today spoke to the Egyptian leader, but has put off any visit to the region. And tonight Channel 4 news revealed that George W Bush had not yet spoken to Israeli leaders since the conflict began. Only rhetoric has filled the airwaves of local and International TV broadcasts. The strongest criticism has been focused on Israel’s ‘disproportionate’ attacks against its ‘enemy’. The UN has several times requested Israel to react to Hezbollah’s provocation with a measured response. But the bombings continue. And both sides are standing their ground each side blaming the other for initiating the conflict. Depending how far one looks the blame can shift to either side, but the build to Israel’s attacks on Gaza and subsequent attacks on Lebanon start in mid June.
On the 9th June a missile attack on a Gaza beach killed many civilians [BBC]. Eyewitnesses described the carnage in which 7 died including three children [BBC]
The Israelis said an investigation would be launched and later said it was ‘not Israel’s fault’ [BBC]. Again it was not long before each side blamed the other [BBC] and the following day Hamas’ military wing withdrew its self imposed ceasefire [BBC]. In a statement on its website, the Izzedine al Qassam Brigades said Israeli "massacres" had spurred the decision.
The US based human rights watch group later said Israel’s explanation about the beach bombardment was ‘not credible’ [BBC]
On the 24th June Israel ‘kidnapped’ two men said to be members of Hamas [BBC]. The following day Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier and killed two others [BBC] Hamas initially said it had knew nothing about the soldier, but urged any captors to keep him alive and treat him well. Hamas who had also declared an end to an unofficial truce with Israel, later said the operation was a response to recent deaths of civilians and the targeted killings of two militant leaders. The raid was claimed by the military wing of the ruling Hamas party, Ezzedine al-Qassam, the Popular Resistance Committees and a group calling itself the Palestinian Army of Islam. The rest is history.

The conflict has also brought wider repercussions for motorists. Oil prices have risen dramatically and in Britain many motorists are paying in excess of £1 per litre [BBC]. The UK government has responded by saying that they will freeze the tax on fuel for the foreseeable future [Guardian]. Any widen conflict will have widespread repercussions throughout the entire globe. Posted by Picasa

No comments: