Letter: Lebanon: pawn in an endless war game

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was interested to hear that on Monday 15 April Michael Portillo "would not regard the Israeli reaction as disproportionate". From Thursday 11 April to Tuesday 16 April I was in Lebanon. I was in the home of a Lebanon family and had no answer to the tearful cry of their 14-year-old daughter, "Why are they doing this to our country again?"

I could only listen in silence to the lament of my friend as he faced hundreds of refugees seeking shelter in his school that was due to reopen for students the next day after the Easter holiday. And much of that listening was done in the dark as Israeli rockets had destroyed two power stations in Beirut that had been rebuilt earlier this year after the expenditure of millions of pounds. I stood in the Bekaa valley and watched Israeli war planes circling overhead throughout the day, seeking their targets and watching their destruction - unchallenged, for Lebanon has no air force.

This is not Lebanon's war and Lebanon cannot stop it. The war will only stop when the world puts enough pressure on Israel and Syria that they stop treating Lebanon as a pawn in their endless war game and sort out their differences around the table instead of through the buffer of an innocent people. I returned to Britain saddened at what I had seen and angered at the indifference of so many of the world's so-called superpowers.

Maybe after the continuing slaughter, which now includes the killing of UN soldiers and refugees who had taken shelter with them, the Israeli response will be seen for what it is - disproportionate. But how much better if that had been the response of the world at the beginning.

Richard Clark

Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

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