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Monday, August 21, 2006

IDF determined to prevent Hezbullah from re-arming

If you hadn't noticed from some of the stories I have carried over the last few days, the IDF (with the US apparently playing along) is determined to prevent Hezbullah from re-arming regardless of the consequences to the hudna.

Writing in this morning's Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz sets out the problem:

Sensitive intelligence information that reached the IDF recently indicated that Hizbullah was in the process of assessing the extent of the damage caused to it since war erupted on July 12 and was working to rehabilitate its armed wing.

In addition, Hizbullah was allowing the Lebanese army to deploy in certain parts of southern Lebanon but not everywhere, especially in areas it wanted to keep under its sole control. [Recall what I said yesterday about how the Lebanese army is not deploying in certain Hezbullah strongholds. CiJ]

In recent days, the IDF received information concerning a shipment of anti-tank missiles on its way from Russia to Damascus. [Recall the Russian reaction to Israeli protests about the use of Russian anti-tank missiles by Hezbullah. CiJ] The defense establishment obtained what it called solid proof indicating that the arms shipment was destined for Hizbullah, and the decision was made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz to thwart it. The shipment was being delivered despite the clear [but toothless. CiJ] prohibition on supplying Hizbullah with arms.

Syria and Iran have set up a mechanism for smuggling weapons into Lebanon for Hizbullah. During the month of fighting, that mechanism did not work effectively, because the IAF was successful in targeting dozens of vehicles carrying weaponry into Lebanon. Since the cease-fire, the mechanism has gone into high gear and the number of attempts has drastically increased. The smuggling focuses on long and short-range rockets.

One consequence of the fear of Hezbullah continuing to smuggle weapons is that the Israeli navy is maintaining its blockade on Beirut, and is saying this morning that it may do so for "months" until the 'multi-national force' completes its deployment in southern Lebanon (assuming that ever happens). The blockade is being maintained despite claims of a "mounting humanitarian crisis" in Lebanon.

Another consequence of Israel's insistence that the weapons smuggling be stopped, and of the refusal of most European nations thus far to contribute to the 'multi-national force,' is that UN Secretary General Kofi Goofy Annan is expected to announce this afternoon in New York that the 'multi-national force' will be allowed to open fire on Hezbullah terrorists.
Nevertheless, even if the UNIFIL forces had authorization to open fire, whether they would indeed do so and subject themselves to a firefight with Hizbullah is questionable. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office reserved judgment, saying they wanted to see the recommendation before responding.
My guess is that if the UNIFIL forces open fire, there will be a suicide bombing attempt against them within 48-72 hours. That ought to be incentive enough for them not to open fire.

The assessment in the IDF is that Israel's insistence on stopping the passage of weapons to Hezbullah is likely to result in the war re-starting within a matter of weeks or months.
Specifically, the military source said, Israel will be forced to carry out aerial assaults on trucks traveling from Syria to Lebanon if they can be determined to contain arms shipments. Otherwise, he said, Hezbollah would renew long-range rocket attacks on Israel within a matter of months.

"If we know that a truck is carrying arms, we'll strike," he said. "There is simply no alternative."

He confirmed that the IDF was aware that such action could lead to new Katyusha attacks on communities in northern Israel.

"We presented this assessment to the government, too," he said.

The army hopes that an enforcement mechanism can be activated within a few weeks to reduce the likelihood of weapons making their way into southern Lebanon.
I'm not sure what 'enforcement mechanism' they have in mind, but I don't see anyone other than the IDF stepping up to the plate to enforce anything here.


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