Caritas Lebanon slams milk factory attack

A milk factory and food storage facilities have been targeted in the Israeli offensive, overwhelmed Caritas Lebanon officials say.

In a statement released yesterday, Caritas Lebanon also said that the Israeli offensive is weighing heavily on civilian life as the Israeli military targets basic infrastructure in their campaign against Hezbollah.

The Israeli attacks on Lebanon was triggered by Hezbollah's kidnapping of two of its soldiers last week. Israeli air and sea strikes have killed over 300 of civilians while the population faces fuel and food shortages.

Caritas Lebanon says it is struggling to assist more than 25,000 people throughout Lebanon, which has been coming under "wholesale and indiscriminate attack from Israel, even in remote areas thought of as safe from the military onslaught."

"Practically every one of the Lebanese regions is being bombarded," Caritas said in the statement. "Even the regions that were considered sheltered from aggression have become targets."

"The Israeli Army is making the situation even worse for Lebanese civilians by targeting warehouses and factories," said Caritas. "In fact, food storage houses in particular have become the target of Israeli reprisals. A big milk factory in the Bekaa region called 'Liban Lait' was completely burned and destroyed by direct attacks from the Israeli Air Force. A food storehouse called 'TransMed' in Choueifate, in Beirut's southern suburbs, was totally destroyed."

More than 500,000 people have been displaced by Israel's offensive, which began nine days ago. Schools, convents, and public buildings are inundated by people seeking refuge, while many other people are being taken in by friends or family, and even strangers, Caritas said.

Caritas has called for a ceasefire and urges both sides to take all necessary measures to avoid harming the civilian population caught in the middle of the conflict. Caritas also calls for safe access for humanitarian agencies to carry out their work.

Meanwhile, Benedict XVI has called for a worldwide day of prayer and penance for peace in the Middle East, to be observed this Sunday.

In a Vatican press office statement released yesterday, the Pope called upon "the pastors and faithful of all the particular churches, and believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace."

Pope Benedict also encouraged relief agencies to provide help to those civilians caught up in the fighting.

The papal statement included a summation of the Vatican's position on the struggle: "In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland."

Holy See insists on rights of integrity for Lebanese, Israeli right to peace, and Palestinian right to sovereignty (Catholic News, 20/7/06)
Pope declares day of prayer for Mideast peace (Catholic World News, 20/7/06)
Caritas International

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Lebanon blog (French)

Advertise Lebanon evacuation plans, stranded priest tells Govt (CathNews, 20/7/06)
Benedict condemns Middle East reprisals (CathNews, 17/7/06)
Pax Christi raps profiteers in Palestinian occupation (CathNews, 12/7/06)

21 Jul 2006