Researchers for Human Rights Watch, the New York-based non-governmental organization, say they have compiled details on the deaths of more than a quarter of the roughly 400 Lebanese civilians killed to date by Israeli air strikes. “We’ve investigated the results of air campaigns in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and the pattern here is different. They’re hitting civilians time and time again,” Peter Bouckaert, a long-serving Human Rights Watch investigator, said. “Just because the Israelis are using smart weapons doesn’t mean they’re hitting military targets,” he added.

By all accounts, Israel’s disproportionate and seemingly indiscriminate attack has caused a mounting humanitarian crisis in Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and with most of the country’s infrastructure destroyed by air strikes, medical technicians willing to brave the bombings are facing great difficulties traversing crater-filled roads and burning bridges to even reach the thousands of wounded civilians.

How to help?

Nation columnist Naomi Klein is urging support for the Sanayeh Relief Center, established by a group of non-sectarian Lebanese leftists. Sanayeh is providing relief at 27 schools in the city of Beirut, which are currently housing 9,117 displaced people–more than 1,000 under the age of five–from the southern regions of Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut. The relief activities being carried out include, “basic needs such as medication, materials for child care, and sanitary products for women, in addition to water, food, mattresses and blankets, all through local and international support campaigns.” The number of volunteers, working in the operations organized by the relief center, has reached about 230 total. Click here for more details on the group and read Klein’s appeal below to see why the Center is so deserving of support.

The new website Save Lebanon also highlights the work of other good relief groups operating with roots on the ground. It also offers a way to contact the members of the United Nations Security Council to urge them to make every effort to establish an international force to intervene in Lebanon and stop the Israeli offensive. Finally, closer to home, it can’t hurt to contact your own elected rep and implore them to join Rep. Dennis Kucinich and twenty-three other members of the House in supporting House Resolution 450, which calls on the President to appeal for an immediate ceasefire.

Please use the comments section below to let me know what groups I should have included in this survey but didn’t. I’ll also continue to highlight good reporting from the region so please also keep writing with suggestions of websites, blogs, newspapers, etc that you find valuable.

An Open Letter From Naomi Klein
I urge all who are horrified by the Israeli government’s inflicting of collective punishment on the people of Lebanon to join me in supporting the Sanayeh Relief Center. It is a remarkable coalition of grassroots activists in Beirut who have rapidly joined together to provide emergency relief to many victims of this human-created disaster. I have researched their work and feel confident that all support we send is going to the urgent task of distributing basic supplies such as food and medicine to people suffering under the Israeli bombing, including thousands of internally displaced refugees being housed in 32 displacement centers.

Virtually the only response from western governments to Israel’s sickening decision to wage all out war on the people of Lebanon has been to send helicopters and boats to rescue their own citizens. Millions of people without such precious passports are left behind without aid, trapped by Israeli bombs that have systematically targeted roads, bridges and the airport.

There is no “international community” that is coming to save the day, only our own anti-war networks that we have built in our communities and online. So at the same time as we raise our voices to demand an immediate end to Israeli aggression, we must also offer our financial support to trustworthy, on-the-ground activists like those at the Sanayeh ReliefCenter. In a world increasingly governed by brute force and indifference, the Sanayeh Relief Center is a beacon of humanity and mutual aid, please do what you can to increase its strength. It is a concrete act of peace.

Naomi Klein
Wednesday, July 19th