Karim Makdisi in the London Review of Books:
I was in Japan with my wife when we heard the news. The memories flooded back: Israel was once again attacking Lebanon. We were frantic because our two daughters were there with their grandparents. We flew to Damascus via Dubai, and after a flurry of telephone calls and consultations with fellow travellers who had similar plans, we took a taxi and went by the recently hit but shortest route via Zahle and Tarshish. Along the way, we passed a convoy of ambulances. When we arrived home two and a half hours later, my parents greeted us with tears in their eyes. The road we had been on was hit several times, and the ambulances destroyed.
Yesterday the Israeli military targeted water-drilling machines that lay idle on a construction site in the Christian district of Ashrafieh in the centre of Beirut. It is difficult to think of anywhere in Lebanon where Hizbullah ‘terrorists’ are less likely to be hiding. A few hours earlier the Israeli foreign minister had announced that Israel was not attacking Lebanon as such, but Hizbullah, because of its capture of two Israeli soldiers. Such claims are intended to align this war with the US ‘war on terror’, and also to quell guilt on the part of those in the West who might otherwise feel uncomfortable with the carnage. But the overwhelming majority of casualties have been civilians, and the targeting of infrastructure – the airport, ports, bridges, electricity stations, roads, factories, hospitals – is the latest instance of the long-standing Israeli policy of collective punishment of Arab civilian populations that resist Israeli dictates. The world meanwhile looks on.