Local Lebanese condemn attacks

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 July, 2006, 12:00am

A dozen members of the local Lebanese community yesterday protested against Israel's targeting of civilians and infrastructure in their campaign to oust Hezbollah from southern Lebanon.

After 11 days of targeting 'terrorist infrastructure', Israel has killed at least 345 Lebanese, mostly civilians and displaced half a million. Israel has warned it could launch a full ground invasion.

Bearing placards reading 'stop the bloodshed' and 'hands off Lebanon' and waving Lebanese flags, the protesters, many of whom have family and friends in the middle of the combat zone, called for an immediate cease fire.

'We are here to raise awareness about the senseless and anarchic killing of civilians and destruction of Lebanon,' said Bobsi, 41, who was raised in Lebanon and now owns the Life Cafe in Soho.

'Lebanon has been rebuilding for the past 15-20 years, and it has so much to offer the world. But now the bombings have started. The infrastructure is destroyed, the country is crippled. Here we go again.'

What started on the thoroughfare of Des Voeux Road, Central, was swiftly relegated by police to the back alley of Theatre Lane, angering some protesters. 'It would be nice to be a bit more prominent, and with less advertising,' said Bobsi.

But a plain-clothes police officer, surnamed Wong, said shopkeepers had complained. 'We received complaints that the protest was blocking the entrance of their shops so we decided to move them. Many people can still see the placards,' he said.

Masters student Sandrella Azzi, 29, was concerned for the safety of her relatives.

'My father and my husband's entire family are in Lebanon and I am very worried. My father had to flee southern Lebanon and hide up in the mountains,' Mrs Azzi said.

'Lebanon is small, about the size of Hong Kong Island, nobody knows much about it, but it is such a beautiful place. We just want [the war] end and everyone to return to the table. Negotiation is the key to everything,' she said.

Mrs Azzi plans to return to Lebanon 'as soon as it opens up' to volunteer in hospitals and distribute food and water to the hundreds of thousands of displaced children. She is setting up a fund to collect money.

People wishing to donate to Mrs Azzi's fund can contact her at sandrellasarkis@gmail.com.