By Motasem Dalloul
A massive explosion hit the Lebanese Port of Beirut on Tuesday, causing much havoc in the capital city, with at least 137 deaths and 5,000 wounded, while hundreds are still missing raising fears that the death toll will rise significantly.
The blast turned more than 300,000 people homeless according to the governor of the city, and the Lebanese authorities declared Beirut a “disaster city” before imposing a two-week state of emergency.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that the wounded are stranded in hospitals with long waiting times for medical attention. The country, which has already been suffering severe humanitarian, economic and political crises, is clearly unable to deal with such a large-scale disaster.
However, several countries including Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Iraq have already sent field hospitals and medical aid after the Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan expressed on Thursday that the country needed more assistance to deal with the aftermath of the catastrophe.
“We are in contact with Arab and European countries to secure medical aid for Lebanon,” Hassan told Sawt Lebnan Radio. “What is required today is to set up field hospitals in the capital and this should include military hospitals.”
Amid the heart-breaking disaster, several Israeli occupation officials affirmed that Israel is ready to help Lebanon. Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi disclosed that Israel approached Lebanon through international defence and diplomatic channels to offer the government humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed National Security Council Head Meir Ben-Shabbat to speak with United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov to clarify how Israel can further assist Lebanon.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin offered his condolences for the deceased and injured, tweeting: “We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time.”
Of course, Lebanon has so far ignored Israel and the Israeli offers of aid despite this tweet posted by the spokesperson of the Israeli occupation forces: “This is the time to transcend any conflict.”
In fact, Lebanon, which has endured national hardship even before the explosion occurred, is in need of any assistance offered – but not from Israel – which early this week pledged to destroy its infrastructure. During meetings with Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and other members of the general staff held last Thursday, Gantz instructed the Israeli Defence Forces to bomb Lebanese infrastructure in any potential conflict with Lebanon. This came following days of tension in the northern front.
Lebanon does not want help from the state that invented the Dahiya Doctrine, which is a military strategy based on destroying civilian infrastructure under the claim of preventing combatants from using it. To achieve this end, the Israeli forces are allowed to employ disproportionate power. This strategy is named after the Dahiya neighbourhood of Beirut which was completely destroyed by Israel in 2006.
The former Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett once told the Israeli daily Haaretz that: “The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out. That’s what we should already be saying to them and the world now. If Hezbollah fires missiles at the Israeli home front, this will mean sending Lebanon back to the Middle Ages.”
Gantz, who declared that he approached Lebanon through international and diplomatic channels to offer humanitarian aid, once bragged about the destruction of the Gaza Strip and sending it back to the Stone Age. As he put his foot at the doorstep of politics, the former Israeli chief of staff took pride in the killing of Palestinians. Only recently in 2014, when he was chief of staff, his army killed more than 2,260 Palestinians in a 51-day onslaught in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu, who claimed that he contacted a UN envoy on the same day of the explosion to inform him that Israel is ready to help Lebanon, was reported by Israeli media as threatening to attack Lebanon as tension between the two countries increased. Referring to his threats, he avowed: “These are not vain words; they have the weight of the State of Israel and the IDF behind them and this should be taken seriously.”
This is enough to prove that Israel is not a state that offers humanitarian aid, but rather causes humanitarian tragedies. It is a state built on the bones and skulls of Palestinians who have been living in Palestine for thousands of years, and the Zionist Jews killed them and displaced them under the pretext that they are “God’s chosen people” who are entitled to live alone in the Holy Land.
Like most people around the world, I do not believe that Israel has a humanitarian face. When it proposes humanitarian help, surely it has in mind another purpose – possibly collecting intelligence in Beirut. If Israel has a humanitarian face, why is it imposing a strict siege on the Gaza Strip and preventing its residents from receiving proper treatment? Why is it cutting the occupied West Bank into cantons and surrounding Palestinian cities and villages with the apartheid wall? Why does it not offer proper medical treatment for prisoners inside its jails, resulting in unnecessary, senseless deaths every year? There exists an unlimited number of similar questions.
I am sure that the real Israeli face was reflected through the veteran Israeli politician, Chairman of Zehut Party Moshe Feiglin. He celebrated the Beirut explosion and claimed it was a “gift” from Gaza to the Jewish people, claiming that he wished Israel was responsible for it.
The former Israeli MK posted on Facebook on Wednesday: “In honour of [Tu B’Av – the Jewish holiday of love which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday], we got a ‘spectacular pyrotechnics show’ in the Port of Beirut. If it was us, and I hope it was us, then we should be proud of it, and with that we will create a balance of terror. By avoiding saying it’s us – we are putting ourselves on the dark side of morality.” This is the real Israel, not the one claiming to belong to humanity.
Feiglin thanked God for organising such a “marvellous celebration”, referring to the blast. “Today is Tu B’Av, it is a day to rejoice – and a sincere and great thanks to the Lord and all the geniuses and heroes (!) who organised this marvellous celebration in honour of the holiday of love,” he wrote.
This is Israel – no more, no less.
- Motasem A Dalloul is MEMO’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip.