MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
This morning the Hizbullah killed 3 Israeli soldiers, kidnapped two and fired mortars and Katyousha rockets near Sheba farms as well as near the Israeli community of Moshav Zarit along the Israeli-Lebanese border. IDF responded with a bombardment of targets in Lebanon and invasion of Lebanon, apparently in pursuit of the kidnappers, and that is just the beginning. Four more Israeli soldiers were apparently killed in action today. The Israeli cabinet is meeting this evening to decide on further steps, following the expected bellicose rhetoric. An ominous red banner across the bottom of my TV screen proclaims "Back to Lebanon."
The IDF was also busy in Gaza today. It bombed a building where the top brass of the Hamas were meeting. The meeting was held in a concrete reinforced basement, so most of the Hamas leaders escaped unharmed. Seven civilians were killed. Mohamed Deif and another Hamas leader were apparently injured. The extent of their injuries is not known.
PM Ehud Olmert declared that the kidnapping was an act of war. Since Lebanon has been at war with Israel since 1948, acts of war are to be expected now and then. More ominously, senior Israel Defense Forces officers said that "if the abducted soldiers are not returned, we'll turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years." Israel held a wide buffer zone in Lebanon until 18 years ago.
There is no doubt that the Israeli army is hurting from the second major foulup in about 2 weeks. There is no doubt also that the border incident was unprovoked aggression by the Hizbulla. Since the Lebanese government gives Hizbulla free rein, and insists that it is at war with with Israel, it should not be surprised at Israeli reaction. The Hizbullah celebrated jubilantly in Beirut, a picture that was not calculated to soothe the wrath and injured pride of the IDF. Such celebrations have a price and the price will be paid.
Hizbullah celebrating kidnapping in Beirut"
No doubt also that the current crises were manufactured at least in part in Tehran and Damascus. Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak complained today that a deal to swap prisoners and end the Gaza crises was thwarted by a "other parties." - apparently Syria. According to Ha'aretz:
On the other hand, Israeli reactions thus far have not served demonstrably either to bring back kidnapped soldiers or to bring Israel much security. The IDF is concerned to "restore our deterrent." This phrase, overused of late in Israeli media, is the battle cry of the hawks: "The IDF must act to restore its deterrent." Unfortunately, if the Hizbullah and Hamas are not deterred by IDF actions, then the actions damage the deterrent further, by demonstrating that the IDF has no response to Hizbullah and Hamas actions.
Actions that may be "justifiable" may not be wise. Defense Minister Peretz said angrily that Israel will make the Hizbullah regret the kidnapping. That is very unlikely. Thus far, Israeli actions have caused suffering among Palestinians and Lebanese, but they have helped the Hizbullah and the Hamas achieve the ends they desired. Israel is getting bogged down in a two front low intensity conflict.
The truth is, apparently, that there is just about nothing that Israel can do that will make the Hizbullah regret the kidnapping or any other provocation that the Hizbullah perpetrate at the bidding of their masters. Like the Palestinians, the Lebanese are pawns in the game of the Hizbullah and Syria, and their suffering is fuel for the foreign policy engine of the Syrians. The more Hizbullah are killed by Israel, the more they become heroes in the eyes of the Arab world. If Israel hits Lebanese targets, then the stock of the Hizbullah as "defenders" of Lebanon rises again. Syria and Iran will fight Israel to the last Lebanese and the last Palestinian. Syria and Iran set up the game so that the outcome is "heads I win, tails you lose."
It hurts to say this, but to my mind Ehud Olmert is right not to offer to trade soldiers for hostages either. There is every indication that past hostage deals paved the way for further kidnappings. On the other hand, if we believe Hosni Mubarrak, it seems the Israel government was willing to trade hostages for soldiers in any case, in a roundabout way.
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Replies: 24 comments
Israel returning to Lebanon will only encourage a repeat in the call for help to Syria, whom left Lebanon only a year ago. Israel is looking for a regional war, once again. What is Israel thinking? "Well the US is just next door, guess we can rape our neighbors with no consequences." Come'on Israel, the US boys are tired of dieing to promote your land grabbing, power hungry campaigns. In fact there's quite a large group of American's calling for Israels destruction, not the Palestinians. Israel has suceeded in pissing off it's neighbors as well as it's allies. Good work Israel. The US won't out right bomb Iran, so Israel turns up the heat in the region, hoping to provoke a response from Iran. Is that the game Israel is playing? Sure looks that way. "Wage war through deception." Hopefully your neighbors will stop fighting amongst themselves long enough to put you down once and for all, I mean, come'on your not even a legitimate state. Do Israelies have a right to exist? Sure, but that does not imply that your neigbors don't have the same right. Someone needs to smack you down like the spoiled whinning brat you are.
Posted by Drutch @ 07/12/2006 07:59 PM CST
It seem sto me that the actions of the Israeli army are not copletely wrong but are not completely right. Here are some ideas:
1.1) Israel cannot agree to a prisoner exchange with the Hamas, since it will make kidnapping a common occurance in order to release more Palestinian prisoners. Nor can Isral agree to an exchange with HIzbulla, because of the connection to the Hamas's actions, as well as Hizbulla's claim to release Palestinians. Although, ultimately it is in Israel's interest not to hold any Lebanese prisoners. A deal with the Lebanese government should be considered. But not until other goals are acheived.
1.2) At he moment, the only reasonable policy is to hurt the Hamas/HIzbulla and wait and see if intelligence will become available to mount a rescue or at least cause enough harm was caused to the kidnappers and enough time to pass so as to tarnish the success of the kidnappers. and lower or change the price, if at the end a price will be unavoidable.
>This is the first obejective of military actions in Gaza and Lebanon: waiting for the situation about the hostages to change while harming the kidnappers.
2.1) At the moment the paramilitary forces of the Hamas and the Hizbulla are striking across the border into Israel without impunity from areas Israel withdrew from. If Israel does not take action, it will become a hostage of these groups, its ability to defend its borders will be compromised, and the Israelis' faith in withdrawl and secure borders, as opposed to occupation, will be lost. So, the second objective is to cause serious harm to the fighting ability of the armed forces of the Hamas in the HIzbulla. It may not be possible to destroy the Hamas or the Hizbulla completely, or to prevent them completely from shooting Israel. But, like in Homat Magen, it is possible to weaken them significantly.
2.2) It is important to note, the objective should not be to teach the Hamas/HIzbulla or to pressure the Palestinian/Lebanese population. Pressure on civilians, attack on civilian infrastructure, will only strengthen the support for these groups. Threats and blames are pointless. The objective is to harm the Hamas and the Hizbulla only physically and directly with all the necessary might. This will acheive four goals: one, diminishing their military capacity of the forces that have built up in these areas since our withdrawl; two, encouraging the organizations to seek a ceasefire on terms more beneficial (but not perfect) to Israel (like after Homat Magen, when there was a visible decrease in the ability and motivation of terrorists); three, to damage the credibility of these organizations in their societies; four (maybe), if these organizations are significatly weakened and deligitimized, there is a greater chance that moderate forces will be willing to challenge them. This is also one reason why Israel should not attack the Lebanese government and civilians or Palestinian civilians.
2.3) There is a limited window of opportunity when Israel has legitimacy for the justified use of military force in that way.
3.1) However, it is essential to realize that at the end of every war there must be some form of diplomacy, a ceasefire. Especially in wars that do not end in complete and total defeat and surrender of the other side, like these two fronts. After enough harm is handed to the Hamas and the Hizbulla, and there is an improvement on getting the soldiers back (either for a very low price or since they were released), than a ceasefire should be negotiated that will get the other side to refrain from attacks across the border while allowing the Hamas and the Hizbulla to make it seem as if they have not completely lost (since if they do, they will simply continue fighting). This means Israel should be willing to negotiate directly or indirectly, with Abu Mazan and the Lebanese government, and maybe even the Hamas and the Hizbulla for a ceasefire. This will mean that Israel will have to give the Hamas/Hizbulla/ Abu Mazen/the Lebanese government more respect and legitimacy than they deserve. But it is the only way to acheive the third objective, which is cecession of hostilities at recognized lines, while creating a clear deterant for future actions by these groups. If a diplomatic way out is not offered, than these two groups will continue fighting, gain more support, and the Israeli deterance will be erroded.
3.3) we should not hesitate to negotiate witht the Hamas. Negotiations with us may gain them legitimacy as a government but will reduce their prestige as an ideological group, or if they refuse to negotiate, make them look like yhe obstructionists while not gaining them popularity with the general Palestinian public.
4.1) After the forces of the Hamas/Hizbulla were weakened, violence stopped, confidence and security have been restored to Israel at a reasonable degree, negotiations for peace must be offered a resumed. If their is vacuum it will be filled by other organizations. The only way that he Palestinian/Lebanese (to a lesser degree) will continue to frown on the use of armed force against Israel, will be if there is a better way visibly pressued. The only chance that Abu-Mazen can maintain a ceasefire for a while is if that ceasefire is justified as part of a broader negotiation process, or as necessary not to harm a future withdrawl (as can be seen by the ceasefire of the Hamas during the time leading to the withdrawl from Gaza. They didn't want to be seen as impeding it).
4.2) It should also be realized that until peace is reached some terrorism will continue, and some will be tolerated. Abu-Mazen will not disarm the Hamas and Assad will not expel it, and Lebanon will not eliminate it. Hopefully, the combined use of military force (and the threat of future use of it), ceasefire, and the promise of future negotiations will cause these organization to refrain from attacking into Israel. They will seek other ways to legitimize actions against Israel, the way the Hizbulla tried to legitimize attacks on Sabaa Farms or attacks to releae prisoners. The Hamas wil probably try to legitimizwe attacks in the West Bank. But the credibility of the Israeli borders an force must be restored.
Under these circumstances Israel acts correctly in attacking the Hamas and the Hizbulla but wrongly in attacking civilian infrastructure. Some harm to civilians is unavoidable, but it is in Israel's interst to destinguish between the offending organizations and the general public. It acts rightly in refusing to negotiate (at least not at this stage) about the kidnapped soldiers, but is wrong not to negotiate a ceasefire with them. Although at the moment some military harm must come before a ceasefire, for the combined effect to work, and also for the sake of the kidnapped soldiers.
* On a side note, the Israeli army shoul examine its procedures. Two cases of kidnapped soldiers + the fact that the Hizbulla is ready for Israeli attacks against it, seem to suggest the need to some thinking at the tactical level.
Posted by Micha @ 07/13/2006 01:15 AM CST
The real question is when is the rest of the world, namely China and Russia and to a lesser extent the EU, going to wake up and realize that it can't continue to do business as usual with countries like Syria and Iran? Understandably, the desire for developing nations to secure longterm access to oil is strong, but the unrest that Syria and Iran are fomenting with their support of Hizbullah will continue to drive up the price of oil for the entire world. Clearly there are factions in Israel that desire escalation of the conflict, but the kidbnapping of soldiers by Hizbullah only gives those hardliners more credibility rather than marginalizing them as recent actions by Olmert's government (prior to the recent flareup) were accomplishing.
The bottom line is that the radicals on both sides are overwhelming the majority of Israelis and Palestinians who envision and want a longterm peaceful compromise.
Posted by Paul @ 07/13/2006 05:10 AM CST
Until groups like Hamas, Hizbollah, Fatah and states like Syria and Iran acquire through national experience a distaste for war as an expression of national will and integrate this experience into their national and group conciousness's there will be continual outbreaks of violence. The American, European and Oriental nations need to recognise that in the Middle East there is no universal aversion to war. Further there is little association between beligerent expressions and the consequences of war amongst Middle East populations. The only way this will change is if war impacts comprehensively upon every level of Middle East society. So long as the UN seeks to intervene to impede the progress of war it effectively infantilises the Middle East.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/13/2006 10:38 AM CST
The one thing no one addresses is the simple fact that there was a cease fire that Israel ended without ANY provocation. "It was an accident." they say. The Israeli government is either agressive, malicious, liars and murders ( which is what I'm putting my money on) or they are completely incompetant retards, in which case they should have all their war toys forcibly taken away. I wouldn't trust these "accident" prone bafoons with a cigarette lighter not to mention a thermo-nuclear warhead. Here are just a few of their so called "accidents". http://www.ussliberty.org/ , http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=17338019&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=2-dead-in-gaza-shelling--name_page.html , and here is the US intteligence communities take on Israel's http://www.aljazeera.com/cgi-bin/conspiracy_theory/fullstory.asp?id=193 . Tell me again who is at fault?
Posted by Drutch @ 07/13/2006 07:10 PM CST
As for suggesting that the "buffoonish" Israel should be forcibly disarmed. Could you suggest which nation state should undertake this action? I assume that you would be volunteering to be one of the first to hit the beaches of Tel Aviv.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/13/2006 09:05 PM CST
Yes if the US would declare war on Israel I would be the first to sign up. Not since WWII has there been a cause worth dieing for. Israel has been allowed to piss on everyone they please, unchecked by the UN, who issues worthless resolutions on them and do nothing to back them up. The Mossad is one the world's most dangerous terrorist organizations who will attack their own people as well as their allies and blame it on Arabs to provoke others to do their dirty work. My reference to Israel as a bafoon in no way was meant to impy that Israeli government or it's military is actually stupid. If you would have read my comment you would have noticed I said I place my money on them being malicious, agressive, murdering liars. The bafoon comment was meant to illuminate the rediculous "accident" lies that Israel uses everytime they commit an act of agression on a peoples. Unfortunatly, the US government has been infiltrated by the likes of AIPAC and Mossad, so I'm afraid we won't be doing anything about Israel's tyrany any time soon either.
Posted by Drutch @ 07/13/2006 11:18 PM CST
Drutch, you are obviously a jew-hater. say no more. my suggestion to you is to put your money where your mouth is and join other jew-haters to fight them. you really don't need to wait for the US to declare war on israel, for it won't happen in your life time at least. don't wait, just go! or you can only prove youself a worthless wanker!
Posted by p c huang @ 07/14/2006 04:35 AM CST
Posted by Moderator @ 07/14/2006 12:32 PM CST
God help the Palestinians if the US Army invade Israel on their behalf.
On top of that they'd have Drutch on their side leading the way. He talks a good war. But as someone pointed out back in the 70's, "Can a nation that turned up late for two world wars be expected to produce any "real men"?"
Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/14/2006 03:02 PM CST
Being a Jew hater would require me to be self loathing, which I am not. I am in fact partially German-Jew(true American mutt). I don't hate the Israeli people either. I hate the Zionist/Othadox Jew government of Israel. They are war mongers, and historically liars and cheats. They have managed to piss off every nation they have ever inhabited, which is what landed them back n Israel in the first place. Russia didn't want them (they cheated the people, attempted to corrupt the government..etc etc) BRITANIA, did not want them (they attempted to install a French monarchy to benefit themselves). Germany didn't want them (they treated the Germans as though they were dirt, riased prices of bread beyond the means of the people, the Germans weren't just making up the second class citizen remarks...this caused the suffering of all jews within Hitlers reach..not just the Zionists), Hitler even asked other nations to take them in as refugees as a solution..America declined, Britan declined..etc...etc. They continue to be, not Unlike the US, power hungry elitists who have no respect for their neighbors, their allies, or the world. I would have the same disdain for any nation that attempts to gain considerable leverage in my government with the intentions of leading my people on conquests that do not benefit my people. Iraq was planned in the 1990's, a plan was put together with Israel and signed by Wolfowitz, Wurmmser and Rumsfeld just to name a few. Conflict with the Middle east does not benefit the United States... it is an Israeli war we are dieng for. And as for your late to two wars comment...those were European wars, sorry you pansey's coulnd't win it without our help. I mean jesus, we sold you miss nancys all the gear you needed to do the job. But I guess you Brits just don't have the balls of steel it takes to get the job done. Christ, we even won WWII on two fronts..you couldn't even handle Germany.
Posted by Drutch @ 07/14/2006 06:49 PM CST
Posted by kk @ 07/15/2006 07:50 AM CST
I just want to ask one question ... if israel returned the 1 or 2 kms of land to lebanon and freed a the 4 or 3 persons that are in their prison, wouldnt that be a less price that we are all paying now.. Now one think with their brains.... !!!!
Posted by kamal @ 07/15/2006 02:47 PM CST
Kamal ... Isreal only looks for a cause to start a warm in the Middle East region. Look at what happened in Iraq ... Like the USA which accused iraq of having weapons of mass distruction and then admitting that they didnt find any ... Isreal is now playing the same game ... Just looking for a cause to start war and escalating the pressures on the other side. It wont be long until they ask for help from their allies such as the USA and Britian ... But we have to be realistic , USA and Isreal want to control oil production and starting a war with lebanon is their second step after the iraqi war ... Theyve already blamed iran for supplying weapons to Hizballah ... it wont be long till they start their air strikes on iran ... its really sad whats happenning but dnt u think that this is the start of WW3 ... The Middle East has always been the intrest of all wars and it looks like this will be the most horrible, blood shedding war in the history of the mankind ... I really hope that i am wrong
Posted by Comtronics @ 07/17/2006 07:56 AM CST
Israel is a lil state surrounded by all these Muslim countries. Israel has all the rights to defend itself and not to give in to all these bullys.
Posted by Sabaratz Palmer @ 07/17/2006 08:51 AM CST
Drutch, what is it in you that believes such drivel about your own ancestors? I think you ahve a real problem.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 07/17/2006 10:02 PM CST
the west must be clear on this: side with israel, a nation that shares its value and cultural heritage with the west, or side with terrorist groups such as hasbulla or what ever. sure, civilians will suffer as they always do in any war, yet the suffering of civilians shall not blur our judgement. sure, some of us may not be a fan of jewish people, but our personal feeling shall never disable our reasoning capability.
Posted by p c huang @ 07/21/2006 06:08 AM CST
Hizbollah/Syria/Iran never left Lebanon. Why not; Ambivalance, 'Can't do', 'don't want to do, 'can't afford to do' from Lebanon and others in a position to effect that? It wasn't Isreal's job: well it is now. Isreal will halt the march of Amadinajad's Shia Reich since no one else has the balls to do so. A dirty job indeed, but forget the out loud objections for public consumption, it is the whispered prayers of 'thanks Lord for that' in the privacy of western and moderate Arab political minds that is fuelling Isreal's comfort with it's current actions. There is only one UN resolution that matters in that region, and it was made in 1948: isreal is a soveriegn state.
In Palestine, whose 'situation' is being used as cover for other political manouvers in the region, prehaps finally, a genuine acceptance of Isreali soveriegnty would ease the situation enough to regain their sense of perspective and add myriad other dimensions to what appears to be their sole raison d'etre, the destruction of Isreal and the righting of over 100 years of wrongs. That would put a stop to their mass propensity to be so easily mythlead by those whose personal ambitions appear to preclude altruism and any rational reading of the no win, never will win as things stand, situation their people are in. If Palestine now were to take what had been on the table for Arafat at Camp David they would not have everything they wanted - very very close though - but they would have a position that allowed pent up sympathy around the globe to be poured into their situation by way of funds and assistance.Indeed I would suggest that even those matters not addressed in the initial settlement could easily be regained once Palestine is bought within the fold of legal democratic and peaceful nations. Join the 'legal' club and the gratitude alone for ending the constant crisis in the area would be vast. Such action would also change the dynamic within Isreal so that there is no longer a siege mantality that then mandates the use of attack as a form of defence. It is time for Palestine to blink, and in doing so it will discover that what it actually just did was wink.
Posted by Zed Misrahri @ 07/23/2006 06:01 PM CST
i personally think that some time predicted in the bible is at hand..i hope some people still remember the armaggedon..everything is falling in....we have to pray ,,everybody should atart to pray now..
Posted by samson @ 07/26/2006 08:18 PM CST
Unfortunately, Zed, Hezbollah will not leave Lebanon, because they are a native Lebanese political group (no matter who else sponsors them). Trying to get rid of them by bombing Lebanon would be like the Arab world trying to get rid of Kadima and install a more moderate regime by bombing Israel. Can you see that working? The only way to 'remove' Hezbollah is to remove the Lebanese Shia en masse, which I trust is not the plan.
Moderate Arab Opinion and most western political minds are aware, as Israel seems not to be, that violence strengthens the hand of the extremists, not the moderates. If Israel wanted to help Arab moderates their best course would have been to talk to them and demonstrate to the Arab masses that talking brings results. Hezbollah only came into existence because of the previous Israeli invasion - what will the fruit of this invasion be?
Posted by Chris @ 07/28/2006 02:37 PM CST
It is written that during the end times there will be those that will kill christians thinking that they are doing service to _od. And it seems to me that these folks have been so endocterinated to hate, that their souls are truly lost, but fullfilling ancient prophecy. And it is written any nation that opposes Israel will be _od's enemy, and will be defeated in the end. The second comming of the Messiah is at hand........
Posted by Susie @ 07/28/2006 09:55 PM CST
I think you vastly understimate the Arab penchant for the detection of weakness in it's enemies, and using them as springboards to action . Something Isrealis have had quite some time to establish as fact from their seemingly endless experience of it. Remember, Arab spokespeople have a common tendency to refer to every defeat and setback as a 'humiliation' of the Arab people by Zionist aggressors' not simply a loss. Hardly the words of peace lovers, more like a machismo bully that keeps getting his balls kicked in and just plain hates it. Remember, Mohammed set a table that orders the heirachy of religions, with muslims (only Arabs at that time) at the top. And to the Arab the notion of their historical kicking boys putting one over them is tantamount to the most heinous insult they could ever experience short of being fed to a hungry pig.
Posted by Zed Misrahi @ 07/29/2006 08:45 PM CST
Samson, Susie. Keep taking the pills.
Posted by Zed Misrahi @ 07/29/2006 08:49 PM CST
Samson, and Susie, for once I actually agree with Zed. Take a few pills for me as well. I shall pray for both of you. lol
Posted by john @ 09/08/2006 08:27 PM CST
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