Even by Guardian standards, an article published about Lebanon by their Middle East correspondent Martin Chulov is atrocious – reading more like a Hezbollah press release than anything resembling real journalism.
The piece (“Huge scale and impact of Israeli incursions over Lebanon skies revealed”, June 9) ‘exposes’ the latest ‘research’ demonstrating Israeli villainy:
For decades, the roar of Israeli jets, and the hum of surveillance drones have been regular features in the skies above Lebanon, buzzing towns and cities at will – and acting as constant reminders that war is never far away.
Research, which was published on Thursday, demonstrates just how pervasive that presence has been, with at least 22,000 overflights being documented in the past 15 years alone. Those numbers have made warplanes an abiding soundtrack to Lebanese life and the ever present threat of violence a part of the country’s collective psychology.
Produced by a new organisation, AirPressure.info, the research shows Israeli planes have occupied the skies of Lebanon for a total of eight and a half of the past 15 years.
It isn’t until the third the last paragraph until the focus of Israeli aerial surveillance over Lebanon, Hezbollah, is even mentioned. More about Chulov’s egregious obfuscation of the root cause of Israeli military activity later in this post.
The Guardian article continues:
Lawrence Abu Hamdan, who assembled the research, which is the most comprehensive of its kind, said studies had shown regular exposure to overflights by warplanes had taken a toll on those living below. Air.Pressure.info has compiled 11 peer-reviewed papers from scientific journals that detail the acute physiological effects of aircraft noise, with symptoms ranging from hypertension to diminished blood circulation and psychosomatic pains.
Perhaps less understood is the psychological effect of foreign warplanes dominating the skies above a civilian population. They often fly at low altitudes that cause alarm and panic.
Israeli anti-Hezbollah operations are then described as a “crime”, without any scrutiny or push-back from the Guardian journalist:
“While in Lebanon, each one of these acts is felt as a briefly passing moment and no two residents may hear jets in the same way or at the same time,” said Abu Hamdan. “What I aim to present is an accumulated event, one extended crime that has taken place over the past 15 years.
“But really this should be seen as an atmosphere of violence. It takes its toll over time, and that’s why it has the potential to be ignored, but it shouldn’t be ignored any longer. Why should a population live under mass indiscriminate surveillance and live under a hostile sky … to the extent that it’s embodied into everyday life.”
Chulov then notes Israeli “claims” about the intent of its air-force’s activities over the skies of Lebanon:
Israel has long maintained that its intrusions over Lebanon are necessary to gain intelligence of Hezbollah, the militia-cum political bloc that holds sway over most political decisions in the country and outguns the national army. It has also used Lebanese skies to bomb targets in Syria linked to Iran, the key backer of Hezbollah.
First, Hezbollah isn’t just a “militia”, but an antisemitic extremist movement that openly calls for Israel’s’ destruction and the mass murder of diaspora Jews – and is designated as terrorists by most of the West. In violation of UN Resolution 1701, they have a massive military presence throughout Lebanon, and an arsenal of roughly 150,000 rockets (more than that of any European country in NATO) aimed at Israel, many of which are cynically placed within Lebanese civilian homes and infrastructure, placing thousands of innocent citizens at risk.
As our colleague Sean Durns has written, Hezbollah is the “largest and most well-armed terrorist group in the world”, operating or carrying out attacks “on nearly every continent”, including Jewish targets,
Further, and more relevant to the Guardian story, Hezbollah doesn’t merely, as Chulov claimed, “hold sway over most political decisions in the country”. Rather, as Middle East analyst Tony Badran framed it in his analysis of the country’s recent elections, “Lebanon is an Iranian-run [province] which provides a forward operating base for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran, which directs Hezbollah”.
The tentacles of the global terrorist group wrapped around Lebanon’s government, political system and economy ensures the state’s continuing trajectory towards political meltdown – poverty and violence on a scale faced by states like Venezuela, Syria, and Yemen. A consequence of Hezbollah’s control, wrote FDD’s James Rickards, is political paralysis, an inability to provide basic government services, and a financial system riddled with corruption, money laundering, drug smuggling, and other illicit schemes – and default on its international loans. The country, Rickards warns, may be heading towards catastrophic financial breakdown and social disorder characteristic of failed states.
If the Guardian really wanted to advocate for the innocent civilians in Lebanon, how about – rather than highlighting mapping purporting to show the frequency of IDF aircraft “violating Lebanese airspace” – they map the countless violations of the country’s sovereignty by an illegal foreign-controlled militia metastasising throughout the body politic.
Under the grip of an Islamic Republic proxy, beset with crippling political dysfunction, saddled with enormous debt, and beset with millions of refugees from Syria, Israeli intel-gathering flyovers don’t even register on the list of serious problems facing the country.