Saturday, July 29, 2006

The dilemmas of war between Israel and Hezbollah (Shimon Zachary Klein)

The voices of ordinary Israelis have been largely missing from the reporting of the Lebanese/Israeli crisis. Here is a view from an Israeli pharmacist and blogger, Shimon Zachary Klein, in his weblog on The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. (I was alerted to this by Ami Isseroff via ZNN.)

(Incidentally, Klein claims that news reporting from Beirut has presented a greatly exaggerated impression of the extent of damage in Beirut from Israeli bombing--see here. This suggestion is certainly plausible, based on past experience, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's correct. So I'm curious to know how correct it is.)

--Jeff Weintraub
Shimon Zachary Klein (in his weblog on The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict)
Saturday, July 29, 2006
The Dilemmas of War between Israel and Hezbollah

The war has now entered a very crucial phase. Press and horrifying TV reports of injuries, death and indescribable suffering are occurring to innocent Lebanese citizens, who are in the areas where tough battles between Israeli Forces and Hezbollah are raging. It does not matter who one supports, but the heart-rending scenes of suffering that innocent Lebanese people are undergoing cannot fail to leave one unmoved. Israelis are also suffering from the volleys of Katyusha rockets. The destruction and suffering of Israelis is no less! (See below)

At the start of the war, there was support for Israel’s cause in trying to push the murderous Hezbollah from Israel’s northern border after its kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. Many people say that Israel’s reaction was “disproportionate”. The description “disproportionate” has been bandied about so much that it has lost any relevance. The kidnappings are not the sole reason for Israel’s reaction! The continuous Hezbollah provocations on the northern borders eroded Israel’s patience! Can one say that the constant hostile incidents on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, initiated by Hezbollah since Israel’s unilateral pullout from Lebanon in 2000 is not sufficient reason for Israel to open fire on them? The Hezbollah did not invent kidnappings on 12 July 2006. There had been previous kidnappings over the years and negotiations for release. This latest kidnapping was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Hezbollah is an evil, terrorist organization. They are well trained and organized. It is possible that Israel’s intelligence underestimated their tenacity, prowess and motivation. Iran and Syria are supporting Hezbollah and are arming this organization to carry on the fight against Israel. Hezbollah hides behind civilians, threatening them at gunpoint to provide them with shelter in the areas where they live. Some Lebanese homes have become armament stores and command headquarters for Hezbollah. It would not be surprising if Hezbollah ordered innocent civilians to remain in their homes and not heed IDF (Israel Defense Force) warnings to vacate in preparation for the battles ahead. Hezbollah did this in order to achieve three basic goals:

  • Lebanese suffering will receive increased coverage by the media that will work in Hezbollah’s favor.

  • The Arab states and other powerful terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, will support Hezbollah in their fight against Israel.

  • The UN will come under pressure from the ineffectual Lebanese Government and the Arab states to get support for a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

  • Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are not allies but it is a matter of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” in this case. Hezbollah will try to gain support from any quarter for its cause of the destruction of Israel.

    The accidental shooting of four UN personnel who were part of UNIFIL was an unfortunate incident. One should view this in the same light as “friendly fire” on Israel soldiers by their own. In wars, unintentional accidents occur due to incorrect judgment. The UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan’s rash statements blaming Israel for this unfortunate incident was not constructive. It somehow casts a deep suspicion as to his fairness of judgment in this situation.

    Hezbollah must bear the responsibility for the suffering of the Lebanese People. They have made cynical use of their defenselessness for their own crooked propaganda purposes.

    United Nations humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, accused Israel on Wednesday 26th July of committing "catastrophic mistakes" in its attack on Hezbollah, which have caused civilian casualties and alienated the Lebanese public. Israel has not alienated the Lebanese People! It is Hezbollah! They provoked Israel into defending itself from their terror. They used the Lebanese people cruelly for the aims of personal aggrandizement in their hate for Israel. Israel has often stated that it does not intend to occupy Lebanon. Israel’s aim is clear – to remove the Hezbollah terror threat from its border! If this “alienates” the Lebanese people according to Jan Egeland, then maybe the UN should leave Hezbollah to its own devices undeterred! Israel has no argument with the Lebanese People. They are not part of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

    There are calls for a cease-fire. If the warring parties declare a cease-fire prematurely, Hezbollah will view this as a victory – not even a Pyrrhic victory, but a total one. They would adopt a cease-fire for one purpose only – to re-arm and attack Israel at a later opportunity of their choosing. After all, one declares a cease-fire with states and not terrorist organizations. If Lebanon were to declare a cease-fire and one of the conditions would be the reining in of Hezbollah and its demise including its total disarmament in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1559 (2004) then it would be worthy of support. Naturally, the return of the two Israeli soldiers and possible prisoner exchanges could be part of a watertight agreement in cessation of hostilities.

    Unfortunately, a weak government runs Lebanon, which has no power to replace Hezbollah with the Lebanese Army on Israel’s border to ensure peace or to negotiate an end to the war. In this respect, it resembles President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. The latter also has no power to negotiate the release of the soldier, Gilad Shalit in Gaza. Terrorist organizations – Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza run both entities. areas affected as of 21.pdf