Here’s a few stories from that ever-cheery eastern edge of the Mediterranean for y’all.
First, amazingly as if on cue, comes this bloody news.
A Palestinian suicide bomber killed five Israelis in a busy coastal market yesterday in retaliation for the army’s killing of Islamic Jihad’s military commander in the West Bank earlier this week.
The bomb was detonated at a falafel stand in Hadera, scattering metal shrapnel that shattered windows and destroyed cars. The bodies of the victims were sprawled on the ground amid shards of glass and metal. More than 20 people were wounded, some seriously.
“One minute I was making sandwiches and the next I was lying on the ground,” said Avi Samneh, 17, who was working at the stall when the bomb went off.
His clothes were covered in dried blood and his arms wrapped in bandages as he spoke from his hospital bed. “Everything was normal and then there was the boom and I can’t remember how it happened. I’m cut everywhere but I’m in a much better position than some of the people I’ve seen,” he said.
Eidan Akiva told Israeli television he felt the blast in his home. “Body parts reached all the way until my apartment building … It looks like a war was here,” he said.
As obviously horrific as that sounds, one can easily understand the choice by ABC News to accompany their coverage with a picture of a crying, grieving relative … wait … wait for the obvious … of the freakin’ murderer. What, no photos available of the actual victims or their loved ones? Ran out of 35mm film or digital memory space where the blood was actually shed?!!
Let’s stroll a bit further up the coast to Lebanon and Syria.
A diplomatic clash over Syria is looming at the UN as new charges emerged yesterday about possible Syrian meddling in Lebanon.
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and other foreign ministers from the 15 Security Council members plan to travel to New York on Monday to urge Syria to co-operate with the UN inquiry into the Valentineâ€™s Day murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, or face sanctions.
But Russia, a veto-holding permanent member of the council, pledged to protect its traditional ally. The Arab League and even Saad Hariri, the murdered politicianâ€™s son, are also opposed to sanctions.
A new UN report published yesterday raised the stakes by charging that arms and personnel were still pouring in from from Syria to Palestinian groups in Lebanon. The report by Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN envoy responsible for monitoring Syriaâ€™s UN-mandated troop withdrawal from Lebanon, said: â€œA variety of recent reports has suggested that there has been an increasing influx of weaponry and personnel from Syria to some of these groups.â€
Raise your hand if you didn’t anticipate this. Anybody? Bueller? I do wonder about Russia’s stance — I would suspect it to be more a concern about further rousing radical Islamist elements on its southern borders rather than support for an old ally.
A Lebanese surveyor was killed on Tuesday by shots fired from across the border in Syria amid heightened tensions between the two neighbours, the army said.
The incident came just before the UN Security Council discusses a UN report implicating Syria in the February murder of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri.
The dead man, Mohammed Ismail, was working for the Lebanese army in the western Bekaa valley near the Syrian border, in an area where the border is not demarcated.
“Ismail was carrying out a routine mission for the army’s geographic affairs division when he was hit by gunfire coming from the other side of the border,” the spokesman said.
Well, I guess another stick into the hornet’s nest wouldn’t hurt. Oh wait, maybe it would.
Lebanese authorities dispatched commandos and tanks Wednesday to a pro-Syrian Palestinian militant base and sent hundreds more soldiers to a second camp in an apparent crackdown on groups accused of smuggling weapons from Syria.
Confronted by the arrival of the troops, Palestinian radicals backed by Syria warned the Lebanese government not to increase tension in the volatile border region.
“The situation seems like a war atmosphere and could lead to an explosion,” warned Anwar Raja, commander in Lebanon of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
Dozens of soldiers took up positions around a PFLP-GC base in Sultan Yacoub, a village three miles from the Syrian border, witnesses said. Soldiers using loud speakers demanded the Palestinians leave the base.
The troop deployment followed Lebanese accusations that Syria was sending more arms to Palestinian militants, a move that could destabilize the Lebanese government.
On Tuesday, Palestinians shot and killed a Lebanese contractor working with the military near the Syrian-Lebanese border. The killers, allegedly members of a Palestinian militant group called Fatah Uprising, have not been caught.
But wait, maybe that didn’t happen.
The Lebanese Army Command rejected claims that army units have encircled Palestinian bases in the Bekaa towns of Sultan Yacoub and Hilweh Wednesday.Reports had emerged earlier in the day that Lebanese troops and tanks had encircled military bases run by pro-Syrian Palestinian militants near the border, hours ahead of a UN report set to accuse Damascus of arming militias in Lebanon.
Umm … I’m going to believe the claims. Call it a hunch.
Such it the fun-loving Club Eastern Med.