What's the cause of the leak? Israeli bombing of the Jiyyeh power plant in Beirut in mid-July.
Israeli war ships block the harbor and "prohibited Lebanese and foreign officials from surveying the damage of the spill from Lebanon's territorial waters." Appeals to the United States, Britain and other nations have fallen on deaf ears. Environmental mitigation, if it is to be successful, must begin within hours of a spill. In this case, it's been more than three weeks of silence. Silence from US political leaders. Silence from US media. There's no tsunami-like call to action going on with this disaster.
Lebanon does not have the manpower or resources to clean up the spill, which now threatens beaches in Turkey and could threaten Cyprus, Turkey and Greece if left unchecked. And the UN reports that it also poses a cancer risk to Lebanese and Syrians.
At least 120km [75 miles] of the Lebanese and Syrian coastlines are polluted and the spill "is a high-risk toxic cocktail made up of substances which cause cancer and damage to the endocrine system," [Simonetta Lombardo of the Mediterranean Action Plan, an agency of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)] told reporters in Rome. [The oil] "contains substances such as benzene, categorised as a Class 1 carcinogen."
At the same time that petroleum coats beaches (and the habitat of the endangered sea turtle), fuel shortages are threatening the country, especially hospitals. In Beirut, electricity is available in "most areas [for] 10 to 12 hours of ... [thus] most homes and businesses are running on private generators. The generators are diesel powered, and the continuing Israeli blockade on Lebanon has prevented any significant fuel supplies from reaching the country."
The "Three Week War"
Israel is now in the fourth week of its "three-week war." According to the Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, Israel began making plans for a war with Hezbollah when it withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. (Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982.) "By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board."
Turkey, a US ally in the Iraq war, reports that on Saturday Israel dropped 2,000 bombs on one village ... and "250 air attacks dropped 4,000 bombs within seven hours."
Relatively Small, Insignificant?
Lebanon is a small country -- about half the size of Connecticut, fewer than 4 million people. [Israel's infrastructure bombing is estimated at $4 billion so far.]
Lebanon is so small that few Americans seem to believe it's very important or that our politicans should do anything other than blindly continue to support Israel's every move.
There's been no public outcry about infrastructure damage or this oil spill or the "deliberate" bombing of a UN facility which killed four international observers. [Can someone rationally explain to me what Hezbollah has to do with a power plant, roads, bridges and UN observers?]
In four weeks, Israel has killed about 1,000 Lebanese (mostly civilians, one-third children under 12), and Hezbollah, about 100 Israelis (civilians and military).
When will it end?