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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

IAF jets (to) continue to pound South Beirut, Tyre (for another week)

IAF jets continued to pound the Hezbullah stronghold in South Beirut during the night, with at least five loud explosions being heard. Shortly after midnight there were two loud blasts and around 3:00 AM there were three more.

The IAF also hit targets in Beirut's southern and eastern suburbs, particularly Chuweifat - a coastal town where several factories are located, just south of the capital, near the airport - and Hadath, a mainly Christian town just east of Beirut, according to local television.

IAF jets also struck a bridge in the southern city of Sidon and houses in two other southern villages, according to local media. There was no immediate word on casualties in any of the airstrikes.

Earlier Tuesday night, IAF planes dropped flyers in Southern Lebanon mocking Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah and calling on him to come out of hiding.

"Where are you hiding?" asked the flyers. I guess that someone in the intelligence division had some fun yesterday.

As I noted yesterday, the IDF believes that it needs another week in order to devastate Hezbullah's infrastructure. It looks like that week will be coming. The New York Times is reporting this morning on the 'outlines of an American-Israeli consensus' in which Israel would "continue to bombard Lebanon for about another week to degrade the capabilities of the Hezbollah militia."

According to the Times, "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would go to the region and seek to establish a buffer zone in southern Lebanon and perhaps an international force to monitor Lebanon’s borders to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining more rockets with which to bombard Israel."

You will note that the Times said "international force" and did not mention the United Nations. That becomes even more explicit later in the article:

American officials said Washington was discussing with its Arab allies and Israel how to beef up Lebanon’s borders, a central Israeli demand. Israel has been lukewarm to the idea of an international force in Lebanon, but is willing to consider such a deployment if it includes troops from major powers and is used to prevent Hezbollah from supplementing its arsenal.
The Times could have added "and if it does not include UN troops or troops under UN command." The reason for the hostility to a UN force is, as I noted in an earlier post, that UN forces were complicit in the kidnapping and eventual murder of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbullah in 2000:
On October 7, 2000, Hezbollah guerillas crossed the border and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers (including one Israeli Arab), all of whom they subsequently killed. Observers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon videotaped the scene of the kidnapping, including the getaway cars, and some guerillas.

Inexplicably, they then hid the videotape. Questioned by Israeli officials, Terje Roed- Larsen, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, chided Israel for "questioning the good faith of senior United Nations officials." When after eight months the U.N. finally admitted to possessing the tape, officials baulked at showing it to the Israeli government since that might "undermine U.N. neutrality." The fact that U.N. observers protected and defended guerillas who crossed a U.N.-certified border, using cars with U.N. license plates while under the cover of U.N. flags, was apparently of no consequence to UNIFIL. Pronouncements aside, U.N. moral equivalency in practice dictates that terrorists are equal to states. Fighting terror compromises U.N. neutrality.
Former Israeli National Security Council Chief Giora Eiland made clear what Israel requires if it agrees to a multinational force:

Giora Eiland, until recently Israel’s national security adviser, said an international force is not in Israel’s interest if it acts just as a buffer. It can only be effective, he said, “if the other side does not want any provocation and wants to maintain quiet” and “if there’s a credible address on the other side” with control over Lebanon.

Israel should, he said, insist that any international force “make it possible for Lebanon to do what it has to do and not be a buffer between us and them, which would reduce the Lebanese government’s responsibility.”

The problem with this is that there is also a 'history' of 'international forces' in Lebanon, and it is also not pretty. You will recall that the Hezbullah attacks on the American embassy in Lebanon, and on American and French troops in 1983 were a response to the stationing of a multi-national force in Lebanon after the 1982 "Peace for Galilee" operation, in which Israel expelled the PLO from Lebanon. Thus, if Americans and other nations are going to be asked to provide an 'international force' in the months ahead, it is in their best interest for Israel to pulverize Hezbullah. That should work in our favor.

However, there is another note in the Times article which is not good news for Israel:
American and Israeli officials are also contemplating a 12-mile buffer zone in southern Lebanon to keep Hezbollah away from the Israeli border. While disarming Hezbollah entirely remains Israel’s goal, it is no longer demanding that as a condition of a cease-fire, officials said.
I don't understand this. First, we already know that Hezbullah has rockets that can reach well over twelve miles. Second, why are we suddenly willing to let Hezbullah live to fight another day? Third, what happened to getting our soldiers released? Are we now going to start negotiating a 'prisoner exchange'?

What's worse is that pronouncements like the one above are making the likes of Lebanese President Fouad Siniora, who has been crying for a cease fire at every turn, and who would likely be dead by now if his country was being invaded by anyone other than the Israelis, thinks that he has the power to dictate terms for a 'cease fire.'
In the interview, Mr. Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, said that he favored a release of the two Israeli soldiers. But he coupled that call with other requirements.

Any solution to the crisis, he said, should include Israel’s withdrawal from the disputed Shebaa Farms area of the border, the release of Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails and a return to the terms of the 1949 armistice between the two countries.

He suggested the Lebanese Army would move to southern Lebanon once these conditions were met. He backed the idea of a more robust international force, but only after “all the issues” were put on the table, and he stopped short of condemning Hezbollah for inviting the Israeli attacks on the rest of the country.
Let's just hope that in the rush to 'peace' our government doesn't forget why it is bombing Lebanon in the first place and what we are supposed to be accomplishing there.


At 2:05 PM, Blogger Shanah said...

I don't like the idea of any "international force" along our border. I don't trust them. Israel has a military that can get the job done-- let's hope they forego diplomacy, and this is just a propaganda report.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I think an international force is necessary and to be applauded - for the rebuilding of infrastructure after Israel does its job.

But not before.

At 4:39 PM, Blogger solbear said...

Great posts! Your blog has become part of my morning.

At 8:25 PM, Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

As for the bombing of the American embassy in 1983...

"What is that?"

"It's a radio transmitter that broadcasts the frequencies commonly used to detonate car bombs. It has a range of about one thousand feet. We suggest that you set a pair of these on the roof. That way, any radio-controlled car bombs in the vicinity will detonate before they get close enough to do any damage to the embassy."

He looked at me incredulously. "You mean, we'd destroy the car bomb before it got to the embassy?"

"Yes, sir."

"But that would cause casualties."

"Well, yes, sir, but--"

"That is unacceptable," he said.

"What is?"

"Causing casualties. We can't cause casualties.
Indiscriminate casualties would be bad for our diplomatic image."

[So the embassy got blown up.]

God forbid that Lebanese die when Americans can die instead.

-- Richard Marcinko, of the carbombing of the U.S. embassy, in _Rogue Warrior_, 1992


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