Beirut: Before and After

Juan Cole links to a site with before-and-after aerial imagery of devastated Beirut. (He also helpfully contrasts Iran's "blowhard" Ahmadinejad and mass-murderer Olmert.)

UPDATE: After an investigation of 20+ cases, Human Right's Watch concludes that Israel is guilty of war crimes (a pesky problem they've had since their inception). The concluding paragraph is telling:
The Israeli government has blamed Hezbollah for the high civilian casualty toll in Lebanon, insisting that Hezbollah fighters have hidden themselves and their weapons among the civilian population. However, in none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in the report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah was operating in or around the area during or prior to the attack.
Now I understand that HRW has to thoroughly investigate cases, but anyone watching and reading non-US news could conclude that after a few days. Every day, Israel blows up a slew of civilians, and every day they apologize, say it was a "regrettable error" and claim Hizbollah was active nearby. At the same time, they claim they don't target civilians (really? what about blowing up power plants in Gaza?) and that they use "precision guided" weapons. We also hear that their intelligence is "faulty." Anyone who cared about sparing civilians would 1) not be bombing anybody, 2) would bomb only when the intelligence was good (which you can't always know). If after a few days of blowing up lots of women and children (hidden Hizbos, Rush?) you haven't figured out that your intelligence sucks, then you are either in a vegetative state or are lying.

The latter is clearly the case here.

If you want some idea of why all this is likely happening, check out the links near the bottom of the first paragraph of this post. (If you don't want to read the screed about 9/11, use the scroll bar.)

UPDATE: Israel bombs bridges in norther Lebanon. The area is not an Hizbollah stronghold. No doubt, Israel has (or will) argue that destroying the main route out of Beirut was necessary to stop incoming shipments of missles. But considering that this campaign has been in the works for years and that Israel started the conflict when they 1) shelled a family on a picnic at the beach in Gaza, and 2) kidnapped a doctor and his brother shortly thereafter, provoking Hizbollash to kidnap two Israeli soldiers, it strains credulity to believe that bombing the bridges has much to do with resupplying Hizbollah's rockets.

What, then, prompted the action? The reporter in the above video speculates that it was Nasrallah's recent warning that if Israel "bombed the heart of the capital, [Beirut,]...Hizbollah would launch missiles against Tel Aviv. In other words, Israel wanted an excuse to move north.

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