Jesus Christ turned water into wine at a wedding here, according to Biblical narrative. In 1996, the Lebanese city of Qana again drew the world's attention, as the Israelis pounded a United Nations base sheltering Lebanese civilians. More than 100 people died, with an additional 100 people injured in what the Israelis said was an offensive against Hezbollah. The Qana Massacre, as it came to be known in Lebanon, led to international condemnation and brokering a ceasefire.
Israel insisted the shelling was accidental, as its forces sought Hezbollah fighters firing rockets from nearby. But in May 1996 a UN investigation invalidated Israeli claims. Citing the "repeated use of airburst shells" over the UN compound - with shrapnel raining down, causing horrific injuries among civilians - the UN report said Israeli helicopters and a drone in the skies over Qana surely witnessed the massacre.
Qana has recently borne witness to three other brutal incidents, including Israel bombing two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances and an airstrike on Lebanese photojournalist Layal Nejib's car. Most recently, Israel bombed an apartment building, killing more than 54 civilians, including at least 34 childen. Families already displaced by the conflict were sheltering in the basement of a house flattened after a direct hit by Israeli bombs.
The action led Lebanon's prime minister to denounce "Israeli war criminals." Talks scheduled with Condoleeza Rice, the US secretary of state were cancelled.
And Israel's stated defense for the bombings? A few days ago it dropped leaflets urging residents to flee South Lebanon. At the same time, Israel kept bombing the roads, making passage difficult - even if civilians had a vehicle or financial means to leave the area. Never mind all those obstacles, the civilians should have left, an Israeli government spokesperson told reporters.
The latest tragedy in Qana follows on the heels of Israel shelling an outpost near the Lebanese-Syrian border, injuring two UN peacekeepers and killing four UN peacekeepers last week, despite repeated warnings of their location.
Israel justifies such brutal actions by insisting Hezbollah is hiding among the civilian population. But does this give Israel carte blanche to bomb any and every target of its choosing? How many more people will prove collateral damage in these senseless acts of violence?
Shame on Hezbollah for killing innocents - both in Israel, with random rockets and in Lebanon, by making civilians an easy target.
Shame on Israel for sowing a reckless path of death and destruction throughout Lebanon in the name of self-defense.
Shame on the United States and Great Britain for providing weapons to Israel, while pledging aid packages to the devastated country of Lebanon. Shame on the US and Britain for refusing to use their influence with Israel to enact a cease-fire. Shame on both countries for fueling a firestorm threatening to consume the region and for increasing anti-Western sentiment.
Shame on all who elect war, rather than seeking to further the course of peace. As I write this, the United Nations has scheduled an emergency security council session about the deteriorating situation in Lebanon. If only the principal aggressors would stop fighting long enough to listen...