Israel-Lebanon War

Just want to note this war between Israel and Lebanon that has been going on for about a week now. Will have to read more about it soon.

At first, I’m not too interested in the story since I’m not very familiar with any of them, except for Israel which brings back grade school and high school religion classes. But hearing about the possible effect – say, skyrocketing gas prices – that this war can have on the rest of the world, I think I need to know more about it.

UPDATE: I found this CNN report. Apparently, Hezbollah, which is considered to be a terrorist organization, has taken two Israel soldiers. And since then, Israel in its attempt to free the captured soldiers, has attacked the Beirut where the stronghold of the Hezbollah group is located. The group then attacked Israeli warships. And in response, Israel sent with airstrikes.

The Lebanese government claims that they have no idea of Hezbollah’s plans (and yet, they tolerate the presence and influence of the group in their own government.) The group is also backed by Syria and, guess what, Iran.

It’s also interesting to note that the US is not playing a major role in it. For now, at least. They just have ships on stand-by just in case they need to pull out American citizens in or near the affected areas. Kung sa bagay, the US already have its hands full with Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. I’m not sure they can still afford to get involved in this war.

Then again, with its cowboy mentality, the US is probably whipping up a plan that would get them involved, without being too involved. We’ll what happens in the following days.

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20 thoughts on “Israel-Lebanon War

  1. I believe that this was the problem created by Lebanon itself. There was the UN Resolution that they have not implemented, that is, disarm Hizbollah and get them out of the Israel border. Had they done this a long time ago, this would have not escalated to this point.

    True, the Lebanese government is not powerful enough to do this, true there might be a civil war that would break the country apart, then where are the Arabs to help Lebanon? Why are they leaving Lebanon alone?

    This is crazy! Iran and Syria are using Lebanon for their own self serving interest!!!

  2. I could see this war materialize before it started with the tensoins about Iran. What i did not see was the heavy and vicious assault on all of Lebanon. i mean why hit Lebanese infrastructure WHY. I understand Israel and their position and assumed they understand the inner dynamics of Lebanon. The Shia (hizbollah) are not liked by the Sunni’s, Druze and The Maronites. Yes they have to keep quite and cannot voice very loud objections but we are against their ideas. we want a strong Lebanon a thriving Lebanon but we keep getting pulled into these regional arguments and we are used as the theater by all.

    One last word IF ISRAEL KNOWS SYRIA AND IRAN ARE BEHIND THIS THEN THEY SHOULD HAVE THE BALLS TO GO AFTER DAMASCUS AND TEHRAN.

  3. Isn’t there like a defense deal between Israel and the US that could easily get the latter involved in the current? I mean, Israel has been the US’ little baby in the Middle East especially in the UN. It wouldn’t be long until the US gets involved, unless they totally abandoned their ‘roadmap to peace’

  4. Chuvi: From what I’ve read, the ‘root’ cause of this particular war is the Hizbollah’s kidnapping of 2 Israeli soldiers. And they’re using the soldiers to demand the release of Lebanese prisoners. But to understand the ‘real’ cause of the tension, we probably need to read up on the history of the region itself.

    To disarm and to remove Hezbollah (the Shiite militia) from Lebanon means flushing a very strong and influential sect. The parliament – or Lebanon, in general – is made up of different religious communities that continually agreed and disagreed in recent history. The same way, the government as well as the country are divided among the different factions. And it is almost expected that these factions within Lebanon have ties with countries/people around them.

    It just so happen that Lebanon, the country, is the setting. And Beirut is a stronghold of the Hezbollah. But essentially, its just a war between Israel and the Hezbollah.

    Toni: I think I understand your sentiment. Lebanon, although it is composed of different religious communities, used to thrive in unity. It’s just that there seem to be always a power struggle between them. Yeah, and it was difficult already for the Lebanese to stand up after the civil war, and occasional armed conflicts such as the current war always set back the whole country.

    Picking a fight against Iran or Syria is not necessary. No one, not even Lebanese I think, want this war to ‘spill over’ into the rest of the region. Israel just want their soldiers back.

    Jhay: I think there is an agreement between the US and Israel. I’m not sure though if it’s a formal diplomatic alliance or something just an unwritten understanding.

    At any rate, I think one can consider that the non-direct involvement of the US is already an ‘involvement’ of sorts. We know that the US doesn’t like the Hezbollah. By commencing a strong military action against the Hezbollah in Beirut, Israel is doing the US a favor. And considering the extensive damage – mostly structural though – that they have caused, it makes me wonder where and how they got hold of those firepower. Building and acquiring an arsenal such as the ones used by both sides, particularly Israel, doesn’t happen overnight.

    Now, we can ask, why the overt display of firepower? Can’t Israel get the two soldiers back using a less destructive method – say, a covert recovery operation?

    And it’s sad to think that the whole of Lebanon has been dragged into this war because of the abduction of a single sect.

  5. I have just personally returned from what was to be a month’s stay in Lebanon. I was in the south, and all over the Bekaa Valley, and north to Byblos in April, when I went to a friend. I also went for two days to Damascus. I teach and live in Saudi Arabia where I have spent ten years of my life. I am N. American. And I have a thorough understanding of the Middle East.

    You have every reason to be concerned about this matter from a personal standpoint re. the rising costs of ‘oil’, if you will. But don’t we all have a moral obligation to stop nations like Israel and the U.S. and others who bully smaller countries into submission and into accepting conditions that simply are unacceptable? I am talking about the ‘root cause’ of the Palestinians who are living in absolutely unacceptable conditions in the Palest. ‘territories’. The fact that Israel simply will NOT go back to agreements made–to go back to the 1967 borders and to get the fanatics off the land that — to this day — Palestinians still hold keys for. (There is a day, annually, where Palest’s hold up the keys to their houses, now occupied, and pray for them to be returned.) The Arab world, I can tell you, is awash in fury, thanks to this latest, grossly disproportionate, and now criminal act of Israel against Lebanon. Virtually ALL of the bridges and roads on major thoroughfares have been bombed out. You can see for yourself by reading BBC.com (better than most outlets) and by watching news that isn’t FOX, MSNBC, and other N. American “reporting from Haifa” only (where are the reports from Beirut? finally, some are starting to come through again) propaganda.

    Back to my point. Moderates turn into militants or supporters of militants when they believe that they have no other choice or way out. There is, fortunately, a great deal of condemnation inside Lebanon about the actions of Hezbollah. Many do not want them there, and yes they are supported by Syria, but Syria is not directly involved thus far unless it is supplying the weapons I saw on the road to the airport from Damascus. One long piece of artillery being pulled. (I had to flee Beirut overland and go to Damascus while roads ahead were being bombed by the Israelis. One busload was hit as a bridge taken out. IS THIS RIGHT????)

    The Arab world WANTS a fair and negotiated settlement on the Palestinian issue, and it’s not as simple as the media would have you believe. There are hundreds of thousands of displaced refugee Palestinians living in squalid camps in Lebanon STILL, fifty years later…waiting to go home. Israel refuses their right of return.

    Lebanon is in a state of hell right now, and gone is the economic recovery that had started after fifteen years of civil war.

    Israel is NOT justified in using such force to hunt down Hezbollah militants who, yes, may be using terror tactics, but who were also elected (democratically, I might add) by the people of Lebanon, by a portion of them. A portion of militants in government. What DO you do when militants are supported by a people who have been bombed and imposed upon by decades by the Israelis?

    I’m writing so fast, and I know I’m hardly putting all the issues down in a coherent fashion, as I am in the midst of finishing up a long news article on our escape. However, if I merely raise the questions and invite you to start looking at the media and at this matter critically, that will be a good thing.

    For an excellent read on the history of Lebanon, read PITY THE NATION by Robert Fisk. Fisk is one of the most prolific writers on the Arab world, and his books read like a travelogue. This one is a tome, huge, but it will help you understand what Lebanon has been through.

    Best,

  6. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

    I was born and raised in Lebanon and lived through the entire 1975-1991 war. I have seen all the events up close, and since then, I have had a lot of time to reflect on them with the benefit of hindsight.

    What Israel is doing today in Lebanon is the same thing they did in 1982. The US is also doing the same thing by giving them the green light and political cover they need, and opposing any ceasefire attempt.

    In 1982, Israel’s claimed it wanted to stop PLO attacks. Today Israel claims they want to stop Hezbollah attacks. However, history has shown that in 1982 Israel’s intentions were much more expansive and sinister than simply stopping PLO attacks.

    As they’re doing now, Israel claimed in 1982 that their operation had very limited and specific objectives, and vehemently denied any intention of invading or occupying Lebanon. Yet in 1982 that is exactly what they did. The campaign took about 3 months and resulted in more death and destruction than the entire 16 years of war.

    The events we find ourselves in now are no mere coincidence. This situation is more than just an Israeli reaction to the capture of two of it’s soldiers. This situation is part of a much bigger and far reaching plan. Let’s look closely at the present events:

    First of all, Israel’s response to the Hezbollah attack was immediate. Now I can understand this if Israel was only responding by shelling south Lebanon from their artillery positions in northern Israel since these positions are probably always on high alert. But what we have seen right from the beginning is a very extensive air, naval and ground operation. This is a very complex operation involving multiple branches of the Israeli military and it would take a lot of time to plan and execute such an operation. It takes time for the politicians and the government to discuss and decide what to do. It takes time for the military to analyze intelligence, prepare and prioritize a target list. It takes time to mobilize pilots, prepare aircrafts, load ordinance, mobilize sailors, board battleships, sail and position them. Even by Israeli standards, their ability to mobilize and execute a campaign this big was way too fast.

    What about statements being made by Israeli and US politicians and diplomats from various political parties on CNN and other news agencies? Don’t they sound way too suspiciously similar to each other? We all know that US is Israel’s biggest ally, but when was the last time so many politicians from different parties and different countries agreed so much on anything? How is it possible that all these people can stick to the exact same script?

    Is it a coincidence that these events started during the G8 summit when the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries were meeting? In 2003, France and Russia openly criticized the US for invading Iraq. Is it a coincidence that these events started when world leader were all together allowing the US and UK to pressure them to stick to the same script and to not openly criticize Israel or demand a ceasefire? Is it a coincidence that the world leaders’ ability to put pressure on Israel has been neutralized?

    Is it a coincidence that these events are happening after the Syrian army withdrew from Lebanon and Syrian influence has diminished? While the Israeli military has been able to defeat the Syrians before, clearly it is more advantageous to Israel to face Hezbollah on its own as opposed to facing a joint Hezbollah / Syrian force and possibly a Lebanese army obliged to fight alongside them.

    After examining all these fact, I can’t help thinking that the current situation is no mere coincidence. What are the chances that the “stars would align” this much to make the situation so advantageous for Israel to conduct this operation? These events and their timing have a purpose. What is happening today is the result of extensive planning and preparation by Israel with the support of the US. All Israel needed was the right time to strike.

    So what’s Israel’s aim? The parallels between current situation and 1982 lead to the inescapable conclusion that we are in a prelude to an invasion. Israel wants to re-invade Lebanon and re-occupy, indefinitely this time, south Lebanon. They want to “correct” the “mistake” they made in 2000 by pulling out.

    What about a diplomatic solution? Isn’t there another way to resolve this? Well let’s look at the diplomatic options that are being talked about.

    Israel, and in fact the US, have demanded that Lebanon disarm and disband Hezbollah. How is this possible? Whether this is attempted politically or militarily, it would lead to a civil war. Lebanon had first hand experience during the war of the consequences of trying to use the army in an internal conflict. In many cases, the army became divided and entire units mutinied – South Lebanon Army (closely allied to Israel), Lebanese Arab Army (closely aligned to PLO), 5th Brigade (closely aligned to Lebanese Forces), 6th brigade (closely aligned to Amal) etc – or completely disbanded. The reason for this is simple. The Lebanese army is made up of Lebanese people. If the people are divided then the army will be divided. This phenomenon is not unique to Lebanon. The same happened in US during the civil war.

    Israel, and the US, have also demanded that Hezbollah return the two captured Israeli soldiers and to stop rocket attacks on Israel. Again, how is this possible? They might as well ask Hezbollah to rollover and play dead. Regardless of whether Hezbollah is right or wrong, and whether they intended for this escalation to happen or not, they have found themselves in a bloody battle with Israel. Surely, Hezbollah must think that the captured soldiers and the rockets are the best cards they’re holding. How can anyone expect them to want to give up their “ace in the hole”?

    Clearly the diplomatic options put forward by Israel, and the US, are not viable. Israel and US are smart enough to know this. But these options can still serve a useful purpose. They are a pretext that Israel and US have tried a negotiated settlement but failed because Hezbollah and Lebanon could not comply. This will lead to the only remaining option – for Israel to invade Lebanon. It would also give Israel a way to justify it to the world. Israel, and the US, have masterminded a situation that has no other possible outcome.

    Today we are only at the very beginning of this invasion. Much like what happened in the Iraq war and 1982 Israeli invasion, the current campaign is just the first phase, but a ground invasion will surely follow.

    The current campaign, particularly the air strikes, have focused on strategic and high value targets including major roads and bridges, major infrastructure, airport and ports. Any military expert will agree that these are the requisites for an invasion.

    It pains me to say this, but Israel will invade and they will occupy south Lebanon for a long time. There isn’t much that can be done about it now, and there’s no point denying the inevitable.

    What about the Hezbollah resistance? Hezbollah is highly trained and sophisticated organization. They are battle hardened and have fought many battles – against Amal, against Syrian military when Syria was trying to reenter Beirut in 1986, and as resistance movement against Israel and the South Lebanon Army. To my recollection Hezbollah never lost a battle they fought. I’m not sure if they can withstand the might of Israeli invasion, but I do believe they will make them pay a heavy toll both in initial defense and later in resistance and guerilla attacks. Ultimately, perhaps decades from now, Hezbollah or a successor resistance movement will create the same conditions for Israel that compelled them to withdraw in 2000. In the meantime, we can expect a lot of causalities on both sides with innocent civilians paying the steepest price.

    Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

    The lesson is Lebanon is a quagmire. There are no winners in Lebanon. Only losers.

  7. As an Israeli citizen I’m ashamed of my own government!

    Despite the horrible terror attacks, and the unacceptable kidnapping of our 3 soldiers (one in the Gaza Strip borner, and 2 near the Lebanese border) – the solution should be ONLY via negotiation!

    Who remembers the poor soldiers now, when the war innitiated in the name of “re establishing Israel’s deterring power”?

    The massive attacks of the Israeli air force on Lebanese civilian target will only increase hate, in addition of them being war crimes against humanity!

  8. Shiites need a common enemy so they can be united. The Lebanese government takes care of its own, ( mostly non shiite ). Remember that Lebanon was under a period of reconstruction. The shiite have little to offer to the Lebanese economy so they get left out of the process of distribution of goods and services from the Lebanese government.

    The Shiite in Lebanon, have been seduced by a prophet of social hatred who is the puppet of the extreme islam propaganda machine financed by Iran and Syria whose doctrine is to hate Israel because they are non arab, But they should be hating their own government for leaving them out instead. Why should Israel have to pay?

    As I understand it, israeli recruits are for the most part kids who regardless of social strata have to serve in the army. They have everything to live for, unlike most shiite in south Lebanon who are poor and have nothing. So shiite muslims do not regard life as something valuable.

    They kidnapped two young men who are serving according to israeli law, and for what?

    I say bomb the hell out of South Lebanon and force the Lebanese government to deal with hezbolah, WHO DARES TO CALL THEMSELVES THE PARTY OF GOD? ITS BLASFEMY, EVIL.

    It may be that the world may have to aid Lebanon in taking care of its poor unpriviledged Shiite community in order to stabilize the region, but why should the world care more about Lebanon that Africa or south America? Its unfair.

    By financing from Iran and Syria they provide goods and services to the shiite in south lebanon for the whole purpose of uniting them against israel who has nothing to do with their poor and precarious condition and the lebanese governments inability to provide for their poor.

    Iran and Syria should be held responsible for this tragedy.

    Isreal is doing the right thing… unfortunatelly, there is collateral damage. If hezbolah had the same weaponry than israel, they would be doing much worse that israel.

  9. I ask all the westren world citivens,
    what would you do if were Israel?

    What would you do, if you had a neighbor that one day, out of the blue, invades into your house, kidnap two of your children (19 and 20 yo), and just take off.

    Would you retaliate?

    What if this neighbor says in any given opportunity that they won’t rest until they purge and destory your country and your nation.

    Would you retaliate this?

    I don’t believe in acting out of anger or haste, but sometimes its pure tactics.

    If chamberlain wouldn’t retaliated Hitler in the first time, the second world war was prevented.

    You know, the war could be over any day, when Hezbolla release the two captures soldiers. But they just won’t do it, out of (as they say) “respect”.

    The absurd is that the people of Lebanon are blind to see Hezbolla, Syria, and Iran absuing their beautiful country to be a war-field against Israel. They won’t risk their own land, but they’ll scew the Lebanese’s country.

  10. I did researching and there is only one end to this stupidity. This is actually part of an ongiong war from back in 1948 and the simple reason for them having this war is because neither side is grown up enough to keep their word, nor can either side behave like adults and talk things out if there is a problem. Plain and simple…this is what happens when large amounts of people all behave like bratty little punk kids with bad attitudes. Neither side is willing to grow up and act like adults and work through anything together or to even “agree to disagree” so this constant murdering and bombing will continue through time until the ultimate stop comes…they blow each other to smitherines and there’s noone left…just a barren wasteland as a result. The USA needs to step back and tell both sides “if you want to act like rotten punk kids, then do it with no help from us and blow yourselves to high heaven for all we care.” They want our help but are full willing to bash us in their media but yet we keep trying to be the nice guys. It’s time to stop, let them blow themselves to pieces….because THAT is the only thing that will stop these idiots once and for all.

  11. DAMASCUS – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described what is happening in Lebanon as saying. “This is an act of war.” Olmert is correct. This is war. It has been war, non-stop, since 1948. What is happening in Lebanon today is yet another chapter of bloody Middle East events that will last for generations to come, because it is impossible, after so many years of conflict, for the Israelis and Arabs to forgive and forget.

    In this week’s events in Lebanon, the one set of parties, which include Syria, the Palestinians, Iran, Arab nationalists in the Middle East and North Africa, along with jihadi Muslims in the Muslim World, believe that escalation is the only solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    They claim that the Arabs tried to talk peace with the Israelis after the Palestinians signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1993, and ended up with nothing. They say that war is correct, justified morally, politically and religiously.

    To them, it is legitimate self-defense. They back this argument by saying that Israel still controls the Sheba Farms, which are part of Lebanon, and still has Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails. Also, they add that the Israeli tank destroyed by Hezbollah, and the soldiers captured and killed on July 12, had trespassed into Lebanon’s side of the border with Israel.

    They argue that if the Arab world cannot fight Israel, then the least Arab countries can do is permit -or facilitate – a proxy war with Israel through the Hezbollah resistance in Lebanon.

    US President George W Bush, who commented on Lebanon from Germany 24 hours after violence had spiraled out of control, described the situation as “pathetic”. He also expressed concern that Israel’s offensive into Lebanon could destabilize or even topple a Lebanese government that Washington supports. He made things worse and further infuriated the Arab street by expressing Israel’s “right to defend herself”.

    The other party (centered mainly in Lebanon) argues that Lebanon is paying a high price for a war that does not concern all Lebanese. The Christians of Lebanon, along with a majority of the Sunni Muslims, want a war-free Westernized country that thrives on tourism and sound economic policies.

    The Christians in particular were never too fond of the Shi’ites of Lebanon. They treated them as an underclass in the 1950s and 1960s, allocating no more than 0.7% of the budget for construction and health care in their districts, waged war against them in the 1970s and 1980s, then tried to mend relations with them from 1990 onwards.

    The Christians were worldly, well-educated and worked in business, politics, literature and the arts, while the Shi’ites were mainly laborers, farmers and ordinary citizens with limited social mobility. Even their deputies in parliament were feudal landlords who cared little for the community’s welfare.

    These Christians today – despite all the unity talk heard in Lebanon – do not feel that the Hezbollah prisoners in Israeli jails concern them. Nor do the Sheba Farms. They dislike the Shi’ite south of the country in as much as the Shi’ite leaders dislike the Christian districts of Lebanon.

    Therefore, they feel indifferent to the plight of Hezbollah. They do not want Lebanon to become the “Che Guevara” of Arab politics. They argue that all this military escalation does is wreck plans for Lebanon’s rebirth. On July 13 – as the Christians feared – tourism suffered tremendously after the Israelis struck at Beirut Airport. In one day, over 15,000 tourists fled Lebanon by land to Syria.

    Both pro and anti-Hezbollah arguments are valid, depending on where one stands today in the Arab world.

    It all started on July 12 when Israel troops were ambushed on Lebanon’s side of the border with Israel. Hezbollah, which commands the Lebanese south, immediately seized on their crossing. They arrested two Israeli soldiers, killed eight Israelis and wounded over 20 in attacks inside Israeli territory.

    This unleashed hell in Israel, and Olmert immediately responded by mounting a war on Lebanon. A sea, air and ground blockade was enforced on Lebanon, and a systematic destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure was began.

    Hezbollah responded by wounding 11 Israelis with Katyusha-style rockets fired on the town of Safad in northern Israel. Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah gave a press conference hours after the hostilities started. He was confident, articulate, strong and very defiant, as usual, saying that this operation aimed at getting the Israelis to release Lebanese prisoners from their jails.

    Counter-operations would not release the two abducted Israeli soldiers, he pointed out. Statements by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora, who wanted to distance himself from the attacks, said that his government had not authorized the Hezbollah operation.

    His claim, however, fell on deaf ears in Israel. Damaging his credibility was a statement by Lebanon’s ambassador to the United States, Farid Abbud, who spoke on CNN and demanded a prisoner exchange between Hezbollah and Israel, adding that Israel must return the occupied Sheba Farms to Lebanon.

    His statements gave the impression that the Lebanese government, which he was officially representing, approved of the kidnapping and was echoing the demands of Nasrallah. As a result, he was recalled to Lebanon.

    Undaunted by Siniora distancing himself from the Hezbollah operation, Israel responded by bombing Rafik al-Harriri International Airport in Beirut, bringing all aviation to a halt, and bombing two other airports in northern and southern Lebanon.

    These airports, Israel claimed, were being used to channel money and arms to Hezbollah. One of the party’s offices in the suburb of Beirut was bombed, and so was a post in the ancient city of Baalbak. And Israel battered roads, flyovers and fuel tanks in Lebanon early on Friday.

    A division of 12,000 troops has been stationed on the Lebanese-Israeli border. The Israeli Ministry of Defense has threatened to bomb the Damascus-Beirut highway. If this happens, Lebanon would become completely isolated, with no ground route to Syria, and its other outlets by sea and air blocked by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

    Hezbollah threatened that if more attacks ensued, it would target Haifa, the third-largest city inside Israel (which it then did), but Israel military commanders said that no targets in Lebanon were safe from reprisal attacks so long as the two Israeli soldiers were still held hostage in Lebanon.

    Israeli chief-of-staff Dan Halutz said that the operations would continue “to restore calm to northern Israel”. These responsibilities, he added “particularly bombings by air and artillery, target Lebanon itself and Hezbollah. They will continue as long as necessary until our objectives are reached.”

    Israel military commanders have pledged to plunge Lebanon back 20 years if hostilities did not end immediately. Bridges inside Lebanon, near the city of Sidon and throughout the south, were also destroyed. The death toll, at the time of writing, is over 50 Lebanese killed. Another 103 have been wounded.

    Meanwhile, according to the IDF, 90 people had been injured inside Israel. This is the largest Israeli offensive in Lebanon since the IDF invaded and occupied Beirut to defeat the Palestinian Army of Yasser Arafat in 1982.

    Apart from all of these facts, everything gets muddled in Lebanon. Israel announced on July 13 that two rockets had landed on Haifa from Lebanon, as Hezbollah had promised, but Hezbollah denied the accusation.

    If Hezbollah did not fire the rockets, however, who did? Is it a fabricated story being used by Israel to launch more offensives into Lebanon, because minutes after the story was revealed, and despite Hezbollah’s denial, Israel jets raided fuel tanks at Beirut airport.

    The question on everybody’s mind is: why is all of this happening now? Apart from the soaring emotions and reminders of trumpeting Arab nationalism of the 1960s, it is sheer madness for anyone to believe that Hezbollah would be able to defeat, or even inflict maximum pain, on Israel – and get away with it.

    Too much is at stake inside Israel for Olmert to let the offensive pass without transforming it into all-out war. In October 2000, right at the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in Jerusalem, Hezbollah did a similar stunt by kidnapping Israelis in Lebanon.

    At the time, prime minister Ehud Barak refused to seriously push for their release, fearing that opening another front against Lebanon, while the Israelis were busy combating the Palestinians at home, would only endanger Israeli lives. Five months later, Barak was voted out of office, in March 2001, for a variety of reasons, prime among them being his passive response to Hezbollah.

    So, is anybody influencing Hezbollah to dramatically escalate the conflict? Has Hezbollah coordinated these attacks with Hamas inside Palestine, believing that the time was ripe since relatively new and inexperienced leaders were now in power in Israel (in reference to Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Olmert)?

    Never before has Hezbollah carried out such a massive offensive, not even during the heydays of the Syrian presence in Lebanon in the 1990s when most of south Lebanon was still occupied.

    What makes it believe that this time – with the tense international situation – it can get away with it? Ultra-nationalists in Hamas, like the Damascus-based Khaled Meshal, have certainly supported the Lebanese group, injecting them with confidence and prompting them into “defiance” mode.

    Meshal, who leads the anti-pragmatism fold in Hamas that still wants to destroy the Jewish state, is not satisfied by the overtures of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya towards Israel. Haniyya, voted into office early this year, wants to run a country and is suffering from an international boycott on food, medicine and money into the Palestinian territories.

    Wages have not been paid in Palestine since February. Haniyya made several gestures of goodwill toward Israel (much to the displeasure of Meshal), to prove that he was not in power to combat Israel but to improve the livelihood of the Palestinians.

    Meshal had other plans for the Hamas-led government, which contradicted with what Haniyya was seeing on the ground in Palestine. The two men drifted apart on how to lead the government, and split when three resistance groups in Palestine, apparently coordinating with Meshal’s team, kidnapped the 19-year old Israeli soldier on June 25.

    This sent shockwaves throughout Israel, and Olmert responded with grand force, re-occupying Gaza and killing, to date, an estimated 75 Palestinians in revenge. Electricity was destroyed in Gaza, and currently 1.5 million inhabitants live in darkness. Israel struck at buildings, an Islamic university and official buildings, including that of Haniyya and his Foreign Minister Mahmud al-Zahhar (which was destroyed on July 13).

    Ministers have been arrested, along with parliamentary deputies, and brought before military courts clad in chains to their feet and hands. Haniyya, who sees the state he is heading crumbling before his very eyes, wanted to solve the crisis politically, claiming that all the Palestinians living under his control were suffering from Israel’s military response. The resistance groups demanded a prisoner swap where 1,000 Palestinians would be released from Israeli jails, in exchange for the young Israeli soldier. Israel has refused.

    Haniyya is closer to a solution that releases the Israeli soldier in exchange for Israel releasing Palestinian funds (frozen since Hamas came to power in January, and its authorization to bring clean drinking water, food and medicine into the Occupied Territories. Both solutions have not yet materialized, and in the middle of all the chaos and war, came the Hezbollah operation.

    Men of war
    This is where the Meshal-Nasrallah connection comes into play. Both leaders are clearly not interested in peace with Israel. Their views are mirrored with their two allies in Tehran and Damascus. Both leaders are unimpressed by Arab regimes that call for peace and dialogue – prime on the list being Mahmud Abbas in Palestine.

    They are being aggressive with Israel so Israel can respond with similar aggressiveness – killing whatever dreams Arabs peacemakers have in mind. The same formula applies inside Israel, where many do not want room for moderation in Israeli-Arab relations.

    They want to root out the moderates to justify aggression against the Palestinians and Lebanese. Meshal would very much love to see Hamas out of the political process. It would then be restored to the fold of the resistance, and freed from the burden of government, able to focus on military operations once again.

    The same applies to Nasrallah. If Israeli leaves the Sheba Farms and frees all Lebanese prisoners from its jails, there would no longer be a need for Hezbollah. The reason behind such calculations, however, and the dramatic side-effects such adventures have on Palestinian and Lebanese lives, are colossal.

    They believe, however, that war on two fronts would achieve one of two things. Either it would get Israel to show aggression, justifying their own aggression against the Israelis. Or a best-case scenario would be that a two-side war would break Israel. Either outcome, Hezbollah and Hamas are the victors.

    The final argument – based on conspiracy theories – in the war of Lebanon is that somebody convinced Hezbollah of this offensive with the purpose of destroying Hezbollah, forcing them to commit “political suicide”. This “somebody” has given Hezbollah enough rope to hang itself, making it believe that it could turn the tables on Israel by capturing two Israeli soldiers.

    The reason for this argument is that Hezbollah, for the past two years, has been a topic of international concern. Everybody wants Hezbollah to disarm (except Syria and Iran) but do not have the means to make them lay down their weapons. It certainly is not working by dialogue – because Hezbollah would not hear a word of it, and, therefore, has to be done by force through a foreign power. The only power able and willing to inflict a deadly blow on Hezbollah is Israel.

    Having the Americans pressure Hezbollah to disarm would be considered aggression on the Shi’ite community as whole. It would enrage Iran and alienate whatever support the Americans still had left among the Shi’ite community in Iraq. The leaders of Lebanon, who came to power after the Syrian troop withdrawal in April 2005, wanted to court Hezbollah. They believed that by making them shoulder responsibility for government, Hezbollah would show more reason in dealing with Israel.

    The same reasoning applied to the Americans when they brought the Sunnis to power in Iraq, hoping that this would help end the Sunni insurgency. The Lebanese, headed by Siniora, reasoned that with seats in parliament and government ministries allocated to Hezbollah, the resistance group would not possibly engage in war with Israel.

    Apparently, they were wrong.

    Many wrongly believed that once the Syrian army left Lebanon, Hezbollah would be weakened, gradually losing its influence in the country. This turned out to be nonsense, since contrary to what is commonly portrayed in the Western media, Hezbollah is a party that is totally independent in Lebanon from control of the Syrians.

    They used to work under Syria’s umbrella under former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad in the 1990s, needing his support to keep their arms in the post-war era, but since their victory in liberating south Lebanon in 2000, they have become independent of Syrian control.

    They still confer with the Syrians, seek their advice and coordinate with Syria but they do not take orders, money or arms from Damascus. For example, they had four parliamentary seats in 1992, and four for their allies, a total of only eight, and this in the heyday of Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. Today, with Syria out, they have 14 seats.

    This explains why Hezbollah remained pro-Syrian until curtain-fall. Nasrallah never relied on the Syrians for his power base, nor did any member of Hezbollah. Also in Hezbollah’s favor now is the victory of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has shown strong support for the Shi’ite Lebanese resistance. Ahmadinejad clearly believes in the vision of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to promote Shi’ite Islam and help emancipate the Shi’ites of Lebanon.

    Ahmadinejad said on Thursday any Israeli strike on Syria would be considered an attack on the whole Islamic world that would bring a “fierce response”, state television reported.

    Relevant to all that is happening in Lebanon today is the degree of support Hezbollah and Nasrallah have in the Shi’ite community – and the amount of animosity in non-Shi’ite districts. One reason the Shi’ites support Hezbollah is religion. It is not the only one, however, because a study conducted by Dr Judith Harik, a professor at the American University of Beirut in 1996, showed that 70% of Hezbollah’s supporters saw themselves only as moderately religious, and 23% said they were religious only out of obligation.

    Pragmatism, nationalism and charity networks, rather than Muslim ideology, are the secrets of Hezbollah’s success. Hezbollah enjoys authority and commands unwavering loyalty among Shi’ites because it always appears to be a confident political party that is doing an honorable job in fighting Israel. Adding to the nationalist aspect is the social one, which is that many people in the Shi’ite community, mainly at the grass-root level, rely on Hezbollah for charity and welfare.

    Hezbollah has succeeded in promoting itself through the media, igniting confidence, safety and security among the 10 million viewers of al-Manar television, for example. Many of those viewers are Shi’ites. Not once does al-Manar, for example, show viewers a member of Hezbollah defeated. Rather, it shows pictures of dead Israelis, real footage of Hezbollah operations and programs highlighting Hezbollah’s charity organizations. Hezbollah is a movement inspired by nationalism rather than religiousness.

    Precisely for these reasons it would be difficult for anyone to tackle Hezbollah. The only way to disarm is for the Shi’ite group to wait until the Israelis leave Sheba, then free all prisoners. They would then have to modify their agenda, after quiet discussions with everybody in Lebanon, and transform themselves from a military party into a political one.

    That would have been the logical response, but Nasrallah proved otherwise. What he has done in the past few days is show the world that if he so wishes, he can create havoc in Lebanon and the entire Middle East.

    Nasrallah is sending a message to the world – and to his opponents inside Lebanon – that he is still strong and a force to be reckoned with. He is also sending a message to the United States, Israel and the Lebanese that the Shi’ites are still there – still strong, still a force and still visible to the rest of the world.

  12. The Israelies are not fighting a war just for their own servival but Islamofashism that has spread all over the western world Islam and it’s dictators use termoil and war to claim billions and billions of western dollars and to push their brain washed Muslims on to the rest of the world with the help of propaganda the UN and the left wing movements in our own countries i just hope we don’t wake up to laye

  13. Don’t people ever wonder why is it that kids women and old people are seen dead or fleeing and not Muslims of fightting age is it that they are in their bunckers safe to claim victory of their propaganda and the outrage of all the bleeding hearts in the west if all these people stoped Hesbollah planting their rockets and tunels in their homes schools and playgrounds maybe they would not be facing their own end

  14. I think its only a matter of time before the US invades Iran, Syria and god knows who else.
    Certain events (propaganda) will justify them doing this, for example Iraq and Afganistan.

  15. BigChris, I don’t think the US has the capability to invade any country in the middle east. They’re dealing with too many issues – both domestic and international – to even consider it. Such a plan would consume a large amount of financial and human resources, both of which are currently too spread out into too many things.

  16. (A voice from South Africa) You guys MUST stop your nonsense up there in the Middle East.

    What you’re doing to each other (with major risk the rest of the World) are NON different from what happened in Burudi when Hutsi and Tutsi tribes murdering each other. Members from the same family but predigest preaching to young children and then hatred you cannot imagine.

    And dont tell me Israeli and Palestine are not family. Man.. you look the same, you count money the same and DNA will proof you’re actually members of the same family.

    And get yourself some Leaderhip man !!.. 40 years of of that in south Africa until one day Bishop Tutu said.. “ONE DAY WE WILL ASK OURSELVES.. HOW COULD WE BE SO STUPID FOR SO LONG”

    Stop your nonsense !!.. You’re destroying the homes, the livelyhood of good people and you’re destroyimg the future of children.

  17. War between lebanon’s hezbolah and Israel should be stopped. Nothing will gain in war, both will suffer its economy, destruction of property and the primary victim of this conflict are the innocent civilians. If hezbola really concern with the welfare of lebanese citizens then they should be the first to initiate peace instead of war. the hezbolah believes that Israel has a strong military capabilities and goin to war aginst Israel will suffer more the lebanese people.

    I believe, in my own opinion, the hezbolah group doesnt care about wether the civilian and the lebanese economy will be affected. I still believe that they the circumstances it will be faced if they committed an act of war against Israel. Israel will surely retaliate with the kidnapping of its two army soldiers. The lebanese government and its citizen should think twice in adopting the hezbolah group.

    In Our country, the Philippines, has been patient in all our decisions. There were some circumstances that our dignity and sovereignity were put in line but we still believes that diplomacy should reign. That is the reason why we always promote peace and nationhood with our neighbors in asia. One way or the other we will benefit on having peace economically and politically. Tnx.

  18. Lebanese over six years old are responsible for the deaths and destruction of themselves. Look what they have brought down upon their children. They have either supported or cast a blind eye toward Hezbollah while it built up a force and constantly shelled and murdered innocent Israelis.
    As far as this American Baptist is concerned, the Lebanese are Hezbollah and as guilty as the “innocent” Germans who ignored the Nazi buildup. More power to Israel! What have the “Palestinians” done with the terrirtory they do occupy? Nothing except preach hate, murder, and make with celebratory gunfire at the slightest pretext. Barbaric! What has Lebanon done to disarm the Islamofacists? Embrace them.
    “Middle Eastern” people apparently want to live under authoritarion rule whether it be by selfish dictatorship or by a power crazy theocrat’s decree.

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