Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's War, says Israel, reports Ha'aretz

The current count of Israeli dead is 8 soldiers.

Hizbullah terrorists infiltrate Israel territory, kidnap two IDF soldiers; three reserve soldiers killed during raid, four others killed as their tank drives over bomb during search for abducted troops; eighth soldier killed trying to retrieve comrades’ bodies. Northern Command chief: We assume two abducted soldiers are alive; there are blood stains at the scene. Hizbullah says soldiers in 'safe place.'

IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz advised the government to authorize a harsh operation that would "change the rules of the game."

Prior to the special cabinet session, Defense Minister Amir Peretz authorized a series of operations against Hizbullah strongholds in southern Lebanon.

Does anyone have confidence in Israel's defense with Amir Peretz as Israel's Defence Minister. That continues to be a bad joke. Maybe it's time for him to resign and for a hawk and a tactician to take his place. Someone that the Arab countries around Israel fear respect.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister is eschewing all responsibility for the actions of Hezbollah. And decrying the response of Israel that followed in its wake.
Lebanon PM: We weren't aware of and don't take responsibility for attack.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Wednesday the Lebanese government did not condone a cross-border Hizbullah attack against Israel.

"The government was not aware of and does not take responsibility for, nor endorses what happened on the international border," Siniora told reporters after an emergency cabinet meeting. He condemned the Israeli retaliation and said his government would call for a UN Security Council meeting.

Israel has responded to Hezbollah's act of war by hitting hundreds of targets in southern Lebanon.
The IAF struck a Hizbullah post and two bridges in southern Lebanon overnight Wednesday as the number of targets hit by the Airforce since fighting erupted after the kidnapping of two IDF soldiers, reached into the hundreds.

Herb Keinon explain that while Olmert knows that Syria is the local actor instigating the Hezbollah's operation, at this point, in the sight of the world, that move would be far harder to explain, than retaliating against Lebanon. So, while Syria deserves the punishment, it is Lebanon Israel is attacking.

Hizbullah is no longer a renegade, Islamic militant organization in Lebanon's south. Hizbullah is now a member of the Lebanese government, holds a ministerial portfolio, and in that sense is to Lebanon what Kadima, Labor, Shas and the Pensioners party are to Israel.

As a result, Israel feels it has greater international legitimacy to lash out against Lebanon, than against Syria. The Lebanese government cannot deny responsibility for Hizbullah, since Hizbullah is in the Lebanese government.

In addition, UN Security Council resolution 1559 called on Lebanon to dismantle the armed militias, but that is something the Beirut government never did. The international community, Israel is arguing, also bears responsibility for not forcing Lebanon to implement that element of the Security Council resolution.

Israel will act in Lebanon, but, as Olmert said, it will act in a manner that will "echo in the right places" an allusion to Syria. If the message is picked up in Syria, the hope in Jerusalem is that it will also impact on what is happening in Gaza as well. The underlining assumption in Jerusalem is that Assad can press Khaled Mashaal to release Shalit and end the Kassam fire in the south.
As another means of directly impacting Gaza, Israel has just now blown a gaping hole into the Foreign Ministry building in Gaza city.

And that will also show Lebanon what Israel is capable of doing to Lebanon's government buildings, should she wish to do so and if Hezbollah does not return the soldiers Hezbollah captured.

Meanwhile, the connection of Hezbollah's border transgression to Syria and Iraq has not gone unnoticed in Washington.
The White House on Wednesday demanded the immediate release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrillas and blamed Syria and Iran for the attacks.

"We condemn in the strongest terms Hizbollah's unprovoked attack on Israel and the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers," said Frederick Jones, spokesman with the White House National Security Council.

"We call for immediate and unconditional release of the two soldiers," Jones told reporters in Germany, hours before President George W. Bush was to arrive for meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We also hold Syria and Iran, which directly support Hizbollah, responsible for this attack and for the ensuing violence," Jones said.

The United States called the attack "an unprovoked act of terrorism" aimed at exacerbating Middle East tensions.

Hizbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, captured two Israeli soldiers and killed up to seven Israelis Wednesday, in what Israel described as an act of war by Lebanon that would draw a "very painful" response.

Interestingly, in a related matter, Michael Ledeen points to this paragraph on the role of Iran and Syria in Ambassador Khalilzad's recent speech on Iraq.
...we have to be candid in acknowledging the challenge posed by a few countries, such as Syria and Iran. Tehran has played a role in providing extremist groups with arms, training, and money. The Iraqi government is increasingly concerned about Iran's destabilizing actions. Iran must decide whether it is irreconcilably opposed to a stable, strong, and democratic Iraq. If Iran persists in its unhelpful actions, the Iraqi government, as well as the United States and other friends of Iraq, will need to consider necessary measures to deny to Tehran the ability to undertake destabilizing policies.

The United States in Iraq and Israel on its two borders, are fighting tentacles of the same enemy.

This war against terrorism has become, clearly enough, the same war after all.

On Syria as the sponsor of the Iraqi insurgency, see, too, Laurie Mylroie's recent important article in the NYSun, excerpted at length here.


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