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August 14, 2011

NATO'S Massacre at Majer, Libya

by Franklin Lamb

Source:  Counterpunch

Majer, Libya.

Located about 20 miles east of the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna, six
miles south of Zliten, and off Libya's southern coast across the
Mediterranean from Rome, Majer was a picturesque village known for the
fine quality of its dates and is claimed by locals to produce the best tarbuni
(date juice) in Libya.

Family members, eyewitnesses and Libyan government officials claim that
NATO's air-strikes at Majer killed 85 people, including 33 children, 32 women
and 20 men. Reporters and visitors were shown 30 of the bodies in a local
morgue, including a mother and two children. Officials and residents
explained that approximately 50 bodies were taken to other locations for
family burial and most of the injured rushed to hospitals at Tripoli.

At Majer, NATO chose to bomb three neighboring compounds and visitors
examined a total of five bombed-out houses. There was no evidence of
weapons at the farmhouses, but rather mattresses, clothes and books
littered the area. One badly injured 15-year old young lady, Salwa Ageil Al
Jaoud, had earlier written her name inside one notebook found amidst the
rubble. She was later visited in hospital and attested, like the witnesses at
Qana had, that there was no military presence in the homes that were

NATO used the same tactic that Israel used during the two Qana massacres.
After the first three bombs dropped at around 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) on
Monday, August 8, many residents of the area ran to the bombed houses to
try to save their loved ones. NATO then instantly struck with more bombs
slaughtering 85 Libyans.

The badly burned and mangled bodies of two boys named Adil Moayed Gafes
and Aynan Gafees were pulled from the rubble by family members deeply in
shock. One anguished gentleman repeated the words, ""There is no God but
Allah, and a martyr is loved by Allah," and soon others joined in.

Standing on a pile of rubble, Libyan government spokesman, Moussa
Ibrahim, declared, "This is a crime beyond imagination. Everything about this
place is civilian!"

According to Libyan officials interviewed at the Rixos Hotel here in Tripoli
last night, NATO attacked Majer "to try to help rebel fighters enter the
government-held city from the south as it deepens its involvement and
military command and control of one side in what has become a civil war
hoping for billions of dollars in reconstruction contracts and special oil deals
from its chosen team set up in eastern Libya."

Seemingly borrowing a page from the Israeli army media office, NATO's
Carmen Romero, the NATO Deputy Spokesperson and Colonel Roland Lavoie,
Operation ''Unified Protector'' military spokesperson on 8/9/11 told a joint
Brussels-Naples news conference that "the village bombed contained a
military assembly area and that NATO to date had no evidence of any civilian
casualties but that NATO always takes extraordinary measures to assure the
safety of civilians."

It is predictable, that as the evidence of the massacre at Majer becomes
public and NATO is pressed to explain the killing of yet more Libya civilians,
NATO, probably within the next 48 hours, will announce "an internal
investigation" into the events at Majer while asserting in advance, as the
Israelis regularly do, that their bombing was only directed at "legitimate
military targets."

Every Muslim and Christian Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, and every
Lebanese citizen whose family members or loved ones were slaughtered
during Israel's two massacres at Qana, Lebanon, is reminded today of the
indescribable loss suffered yesterday by their Libyan sisters and brothers at
Majer, Libya.

The Majer massacre was perpetrated yet again with American weapons once
more gifted by American taxpayers without their knowledge or consent and
against every American humanitarian value shared by all people of good will.
As at Qana, the inventory of American weapons that has been provided to
NATO and available for use here in Libya since March 29, 2011, sometimes
indiscriminately, in order "to protect civilians" includes, but if not limited to,
the following:

B-2 stealth bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base,
F-15Es currently based at the 492nd Fighter Squadron and 494th Fighter
Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, Britain, F-16CJ "defense-suppression" aircraft
based at the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, EC-
130 Commando Solo psychological operations aircraft from the 193rd Special
Operations Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard, Middletown, PA, KC-135s
from the 100th Air Refueling Wing currently based at Mildenhall, Britain and
the 92nd, Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild AFB, WA,C-130Js recently based at the
37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and A-10 attack fighters,
and AC-130 gunships. The NATO attacks on Libya began with the bombing of
claimed Libyan air-defense equipment using 110 American Tomahawk and
Tactical Tomahawk cruise missiles. Also launched were bombing attacks
using three American B-2 Spirit Bombers delivering 45 Joint Direct Attack
Munitions (JDAMs) against Libyan air bases. Tomahawks were also fired from
British ships in the area.

U.S. Navy ships being used by NATO "to protect Libyan civilians" include:
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55) and
USS Barry (DDG 52),Submarines USS Providence (SSN 719), USS Scranton
(SSN 756) and USS Florida (SSGN 728),Marine amphibious ships USS
Kearsarge (LHD 3) and USS Ponce (LPD 15) Command ship USS Mount
Whitney (LCC/JCC 20), Support ships Lewis and Clark, Robert E. Peary and
Kanawha,AV-8B Harrier fighters, CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters and MV-22
Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft aboard the Kearsarge and Ponce, KC-130J tanker
aircraft flying from Sigonella Air Base, Italy, EA-18G Growler electronic attack
aircraft of VAQ-132, based at Whidbey Island, WA and flying from Aviano Air
Base, Italy (the above listed aircraft were diverted from Iraq at NATO's
request "to help protect Libyan civilians"), P-3 Orion sub-hunters and EP-3
Aries electronic attack aircraft.

In addition to the above listed weapons, more than 50 types of American
bombs and missiles are stockpiled for NATO use "to protect civilians in
Libya" and their use to date is illegal under both American and International
law, because it has resulted in the killing, maiming or wounding of
approximately 7,800 Libyan civilians between March 29 and August 9, 2011.

A survey of NATO bombing sites, ground inspections, cataloged serial
numbers from unexploded ordnance, examination of bomb and missile
fragments at civilian sites in Western Libya, and consultation with Libyan
military sources confirm what two US Senate Armed Services Committee
staffers and international lawyers have postulated. NATO, like their Israeli
allies at Qana, Lebanon, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity
at Majer, Libya on August 8, 2011.

Specifically, NATO stands accused of committing the following crimes against
the people of Libya according to a consensus from meetings with an
increasing number of visiting international lawyers and human rights
advocates who have come here from Europe, Asia and South and North

Applicable international law includes but is not limited to Article 3 of the
Statute of The Hague International Penal Court which clearly states that one
criterion for indictment for war crimes is: "Attack or bombardment, by
whatever means, against undefended cities, towns, villages, buildings or

NATO's continuous use of civilian targets for military purposes, a
scenario which NATO wantonly and callously calls "collateral damage" fits
this clause exactly and would be a cornerstone of a case accusing this
organization of being guilty of war crimes. 

Violation of the Geneva
Convention IV, Article 3 (a): "To this end the following acts are and shall
remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to
the above-mentioned persons: violence to life and person, in particular
murder of all kinds."a

These are similar causes of action that were filed against Israeli officials by
American lawyers at the New York based Center for Constitutional Rights in
Ali Saadallah BELHAS, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Moshe YA`ALON, Defendant (466 F.
Supp.2d 127 (2006) A case that educated the international legal community
and the public about the necessity to strip sovereign immunity from
international outlaws and allow lawsuits in domestic as well as international

The NATO massacre at Majer requires international law suits that achieve
nothing less.

Franklin Lamb is in Libya and can be reached at