Offensive against Lebanon triggers anger and dismay

ABU DHABI/DUBAI — The massive Israeli offensive against Lebanon coming immediately after its belligerence in the Gaza Strip has triggered anger and dismay across the UAE.

By Haseeb Haider And Criselda E. Diala

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Published: Fri 14 Jul 2006, 11:49 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:11 PM

Nationals and expatriates alike have denounced Israel's flagrant and overbearing attitude towards Arab states and called for a resolute stand in the face of its sabre-rattling.

Khaleej Times spoke to a number of Lebanese nationals besides other residents eliciting their views on the dramatic sequence of events unfolding in the region. Some Lebanese averred that the Hezbollah attack that invited hostile action was uncalled for and most untimely but still others defended the Lebanese "resistance."

Ali Al Zain, a Lebanese journalist, said: "Firstly, it is not something new for Israelis to kill civilians, women, and children. They always target defenceless people and we have been witness to it for the past 50 years. We Lebanese do not like war but if Israel were to withdraw from Arab lands, the scene would change."

"These attacks on civilian targets in southern Lebanon is ample proof that Israel does not care for international law or the sovereignty of nations. This attack sets a precedent in terms of terrorism. Arabs must unite against the common enemy," Al Zain said.

Talal Harb, a Lebanese expatriate working for a media firm in Dubai, however, had a different view on the exchanges. "Hezbollah is responsible for the death of many civilians in Israeli attacks. They (Hezbollah) started the attack and captured two Israeli soldiers. The Hezbollah will draw the country into a never-ending conflict, frittering away any prosperity that has manifested following years of war."

Kamal Salamah, a Lebanese expatriate employed at a media house in Dubai, observed: "As Arabs, we aren't right in judging the Hezbollah. The Hezbollah was formed primarily to offer resistance to the Israeli occupation. Israel is occupying Lebanese territories and whatever has happened is part of the battle of attrition."

"The Hezbollah is right in capturing Israeli soldiers from within Lebanon and negotiating for the release of large numbers of Palestinians and Lebanese in Israeli prisons. The Israelis had always been attackers and occupiers, so we shouldn't say Hezbollah has started the hostility against Israelis. We don't recognise Israel as a state but consider them invaders who never respected international conventions or United Nations resolutions, something they have been demanding of Arabs," asserted Salamah.

O. Naoora, a Lebanese businessman, condemned the Israeli attacks on South Lebanon. The Hezbollah was justified in taking Israeli hostages with the latter holding around 10,000 Lebanese and Palestinians in prisons for periods ranging from 10 to 20 years, he said. "I support the Hezbollah action since Israel has been forcing itself on regional populaces, particularly the Palestinians and Lebanese."

Rami Harib, a Lebanese working for a PR firm, said: "We need to live in peace; we are tired of Israeli attacks on Lebanon over the last 20 years. Lebanon doesn't boast a strong military to confront Israel. We have a poor economy and don't have the natural resources or industries to pursue hostilities. Hezbollah initiated the attack causing Israel to retaliate. This resulted in 35 civilian deaths, including 10 children, besides compromising newly developed infrastructure."

Arab expatriates and Emiratis too had strong words for Israel's transgression. Nadia Suliman, a Palestinian, had this statement to make. "I strongly condemn the Israeli aggression against Lebanon which killed innocent women and children. "Yesterday's attacks has created havoc in South Lebanon and the area will take months to get back to normal. It is time the international community came together to nail Israel. It is a tragedy; many of my friends who left for Lebanon are safe there. Some were planning to join their families but the bombing of the Rafiq Al Hariri International Airport in Beirut has disturbed their travel plans," observed Nadia.

Khamees Mubarak bin Masoud, a UAE national, took a still wider view of the offensive. "The latest attack was not limited to the occupied lands. Israeli warships have entered Lebanon's territorial waters to block ports and the country's only international airport was closed after Israeli missiles blew up the runways."

"Cairo airport and other strategic locations in many Arab states are susceptible to Israel's attacks anytime. It is not a matter of Palestine or Lebanon. 'Greater Israel' stretching from the river Nile to the river Al Forat has always been an avowed dream of the Zionist state. Nonetheless, the Arabs are still in slumber, closed to this unambiguous fact. They must stand hand in hand against their common and sole enemy," said bin Masoud.

Sameh Mohammed, a UAE national, remarked, "How tearful the eye became as it looked towards Gaza and Lebanon. All Muslims and Arabs need to brave Israel. They can't do this without unity. Israel will then think several times before launching any attack against their territories. I am calling upon Arab states and all advanced nations to bolster the weak against the offender."

Ali Asaad, a Palestinian, observed: "People who are silent at the Israeli aggression should know that it has imprisoned more than 9,700 innocent Arabs — men, women and children — without framing charges for the past 6-10 years. These forgotten innocent people must be released once for all."

"The attack on civilian populations by Israeli fighter aircraft unmasks the real face of arrogant Israeli leadership. I think, if we want back our occupied lands and innocent prisoners back, we have to steadfastly answer the common enemy with equal force," he said.

Thabet Ameen Awad, bureau chief of the Al Ahram newspaper observed: "This is the outcome of the state of weakness prevailing in the Arab World. Every day, we deviate from our track ignoring the plight of thousands of Arab prisoners languishing in Israeli jails. The attack on Lebanon is another setback."

"There is a lesson for us here in that Israel moved very quickly to snatch back two combatant kidnapped by the Hezbollah before resorting to aggression. It is another round of defeat. In my view, Arabs are victims of Western economic and cultural influence. We have become merely the consumers of the West's indoctrinations. We must wake up to defend our lands, our cultures and political ideologies," Awad asserted. Ez El Din Khalifa, another journalist, said: "It is a continuing Israeli theme of abuse against Arab nations. How long the international community would keep ignoring Israel's atrocities and unbridled aggression is the moot question."



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