Since July 12, the conflict between Israel and Lebanon has continued to escalate despite the rising number of civilian casualties.
The fighting began after the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers with hopes of forcing a prisoner exchange and has resulted in more than 450 deaths on either side of the border.
“All I can do from here is show my support for Israel,” said computer science junior Yuri Kapulkin, who has several family members living in Israel.
As the fighting continues, the United Nations, the European Union, and people throughout the world are beginning to show concern over the loss of civilian life.
“It makes me angry and sad to see people dying in places that are technically called safe areas,” said architectural engineering junior Marya Mikati, who has family living in northern Lebanon.
The Israeli military has focused its attacks on the infrastructure of Beirut destroying roadways, bridges, and airports essentially sealing off the city to any attempts to bring weaponry into the city or take any prisoners out.
“I don’t necessarily support Hezbollah or blame Israel for attacking, but I am concerned for the innocent Lebanese people who have nowhere to go,” Mikati said.
The air strikes executed by the Israeli air force has blocked most ways into Beirut, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he will allow humanitarian aid to enter the city.
Ehud Olmert said that Israel would continue to send troops into Beirut under the cover of air strikes in order to suppress the Hezbollah militants.
However, UN Secretary General Kofi Anan has criticized the amount of force Israel is using, calling it “excessive” and inciting a debate over what amount of military force is appropriate.
“Hezbollah has committed a declaration of war, as I see it,” Kapulkin said. “The reports say that many Lebanese civilians are dying, but how can you tell who is a terrorist and who is not? You can’t.”
Although the fighting began as cross-border bombings and air raids, Israel has begun to sends troops on the ground into Beirut, infiltrating the Hezbollah strongholds, which has resulted in more casualties on both sides of the border.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora warned that the causalities would continue if an immediate Lebanese-Israeli prisoner exchange does not happen.
While the UN and EU is calling for an immediate cease fire, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert pledged to allow aid into Beirut, but not pull his troops back.
“We will continue to take the strongest possible measures against those who are aiming thousands of rockets and missiles at innocent civilians with a single goal – to kill them,” Olmert said in a recent press conference.
The United States has sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to assist in the talks with the UN, the EU, and other Arab nations, but is hesitant to support an immediate ceasefire, saying that the conditions must be right for lasting peace in the area.
“I am obviously here because we are deeply concerned about the Lebanese people and what they are enduring,” Rice said in Beirut. “We are talking about the humanitarian situation, and we are also talking about a durable way to end the violence.”