Monday, July 31, 2006

Hezbollah Fish and Crustaceans

A story to which people and the media have paid little attention is developing in Lebanon. According to Lebanese authorities, the Israeli bombing of storage tanks at Jiyyeh, south of Beirut, on July 13 and 15 has resulted in a 30,000 ton, 100 kilometer-long oil spill, a catastrophe that the Lebanese are not equipped to address. Experts estimate that the consequences of this spill, which is similar in scope to that of the Exxon Valdez in 1989, will be felt for years to come by the marine ecosystem. Already, the spill is being called the Mediterranean's worst disaster in history. Lebanon's gold beaches, once a strong component of the country's tourism industry, are no more, and will take years to recuperate. A third of Lebanon's coastline is now polluted. A 30 kilometer-long toxic cloud looms over the area and has now reached Beirut.

Lebanon has appealed for emergency assistance from the European Union and the United Nations. It is estimated that $40-50 million dollars, along with specialized equipment which Lebanon doesn't have, will be required. Unfortunately, the Israeli blockade that Israel has struck on Lebanon since the beginning of hostilities makes it close to impossible for vessels and equipment to deal with the environmental catastrophe, as they cannot reach the very waters where the spill is occurring.

Who will foot the bill in the end? Not Israel, surely. Not our fault, Israel will claim. The fish, crabs and other marine life were Hezbollah supporters, terrorists.

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