Friday, October 06, 2006

Home Demolitions


Here's an excerpt from an article recently published in the Lebanon Daily Star:
BEIRUT: One person was killed and three others wounded Friday in a clash between Lebanese security forces and residents of Beirut's southern suburbs. The clash broke out at 2:30 p.m. on Friday as Internal Security Forces (ISF) personnel were working on eliminating illegally constructed homes on private properties in a neighborhood near the international airport.

According to an official ISF statement, the incident occurred "on the second day of attempts to stop illegal construction near the Beirut airport."

After the ISF stopped two major violations and were in the process of removing the second one, they were attacked by the residents with stones and sticks and some residents started firing at the ISF," it added.

"The ISF was forced to fire back in the air in defense," said the statement.

[...]

Soueid, along with Mohammad Hussein Naji, 14, Ali Al-Ouzyer, 7 and Khadar Ammar, 11, were rushed to Rasoul al-Azmaa Hospital located along the old airport road.

"They have sustained serious wounds, and it is not clear if they will make it," Ahamd Talal, head of the hospital administration told The Daily Star.

Why am I not surprised that the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) does not send activists to Beirut or the rest of the Arab world? After all, the types of crackdowns on illegal construction for which Israel gets pilloried in the court of international opinion are no different from what goes on in Cairo, Beirut and 'Amman every day. Sadly, the demolition of a donkey shed in the Gaza Strip gets more international attention than incidents such as this recent Beirut shooting.

2 comments:

Derek said...

I'm not sure these illegal settlement demolitions make a fair comparision to the punitive demolitions of the IDF in the occupied territories in retaliation for terrorist actions; the latter of which get a lot of attention by ISM and the like. In this respect I don't think the Beirut demolitions shed light on a double standard. If anything there is a better comparison to Israeli illegal settlements in the West Bank which are sometimes broken up by the IDF, and are met by resistance.

John said...

One other focus of the ISM and a lot of other groups is also the destruction of houses and other structures built without permits in the Negev, in East Jerusalem and in Arab villages in Israel. Google "Israel house demolitions" or "Negev demolitions" and you will see that there are plenty of reports that villify Israel for demolishing illegally constructed buildings. I wouldn't have a problem with that if Israel were not singled out exclusively. The big problem is that a lot of different issues get conflated into one by these activists. In other words, they see everything as linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (and to the "intrinsically racist nature of Israel") and that prevents them from seeing other issues. In the Negev, there are poor planning practices and there's a disregard for building and planning codes among many Bedouin. There is also an ongoing dispute between the state and certain Bedouin over lands that the state claims are public lands and that the Bedouin claim are their own. Bedouin in all Middle Eastern countries are involved in very similar conflicts with their respective governments.

Sometimes, one gets the sense that these groups are driven more by a desire to find things with which to beat Israel over the head than with a genuine yearning for peace and justice.