Why?

Why end it when Hizbullah announces that they will not disarm and in fact reserve the right to re-arm?

Why end it when Lebanese politicians and officials express solidarity with Hizbullah’s aims with regard to Shebaa Farms and freeing of Lebanese prisoners by Israel including murderers?

Why end it when it is now clear that despite Annan’s unsurprising condemnations of Israel for supposedly violating 1701 (they are not since their operations focus on clearing territory of bunkers and arms. Paragraph 1 of 1701 allows defensive actions by Israel and Hizbullah’s promise to maintain and re-build their arsenal constitutes future risk.), in fact Hizbullah and Lebanon intend never to implement certain key provisions.

Why, and this is most important, end the blockade before the Israeli kidnapped soldiers are released? Trading for the soldiers is a mistake, but even if it is done, Israel has not ruled out the release of Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese who murdered an Israeli father in front of his 4 year old daughter and then crushed her skull with a rifle butt to murder her as well. He is number one on Hizbullah’s list of longed-for prisoners to be released but they cut a deal with Israel in the last round of exchanges (the Tannenbaum deal) to provide information about missing airman, Ron Arad, in exhange for Kuntar. Instead of providing that, they reneged and kidnapped Regev and Goldwasser in the attacks that caused this recent war.

Why end the blockade before these Israeli hostages are released? The bargaining card the Arabs seek is release of prisoners but Israel holds the more valuable card of the blockade. Why give it up for a resolution that has no teeth and which the Lebanese are already promising unquivocally to violate?

Why shouldn’t Israel state unequivocally that only after the soldiers are freed will they lift the blockade? At that point it will become the responsibility of Hizbullah, the Lebanese government and yes, the UN, if the blockade isn’t lifted. Will the average Lebanese agree to have the blockade continue so that Hizbullah can thrust out its chest and hold two soldiers in the hopes of releasing some murderers?

Furthermore, as of yesterday the Israeli government has not stated that they will refuse to deal for Kuntar. This is a tragic mistake because it will show that Hizbullah’s violation of the 2004 Tannenbaum deal with this recent kidnapping and war represents a correct strategy for dealing with Israel in the future. This means that no future deal can be trusted, that Ron Arad will truly disappear off the radar, and that any deterrence that Israel has built in this war will become irrelevant since in the end they gave Hizbullah what it wanted.

Forget the dealings for prisoners, or at least stick to low-level ones while using the blockade as leverage. Keep it going for as long as it takes for Hizbullah to give in, even if Kofi Annan is pissed off. After all, he’s not in the business of protecting Israel’s interests, citizens or the justice it deserves.

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themiddle

22 Comments

  • No doubt, if Olmert caves in to pressure, and ends the blockade, we’ll have some riots here.

  • Paragraph 1 of 1701 allows defensive actions by Israel and Hizbullah’s promise to maintain and re-build their arsenal constitutes future risk.

    I’m sure words can be twisted however which way, but in my understanding “defensive” here and in the resolution 1701 means that if Israel is attacked (for example a sudden, unexpected rain of rockets), Israel has the right to defend herself and is explicitly allowed to do so.

    The definition of “defensive” does not really extend to perceived or imaginary future dangers. Defensive here means reacting to an offensive, not starting to shoot proactively at whatever seems convenient today.

    If you go extending the definition of “defensive” as you like, where do you stop? At what point does it become violation of the resolution? Is Hizbullah also allowed to pull similar stunts, what if they respond to the “defensive” actions? Then it will be the war all over again.

    As for the blockade, even if Israel does not end it, I hope they at least will start helping to clean up the oil spill instead of waiting for it to reach Israeli beaches.

  • Finnish, this resolution involved a great deal of negotiating on the parts of numerous international players, not just the US and France. The language of the first paragraph was selected carefully and clearly distinguishes between the two sides and what they’re permitted to do. Israel is permitted defensive actions and Hizbullah is not allowed any military actions. Re-arming, which apparently Hizbullah is doing, is a clear violation of another section of 1701 and I think it’s hard to argue that Israeli searches to uncover arms caches and other military tools such as the tunnels constitute anything but “defensive” actions and thus are permissible. Furthermore, since the resolution calls for the disarming of Hizbullah but the international force isn’t there yet (not that they’ll do anything once they get there), Israel is also ensuring this part of the resolution is met, at least until UNIFIL comes in. This goes beyond semantics to the intent of the resolution which is that Hizbullah becomes a non-warfaring group and Lebanon take over the South. Every bunker destroyed by Israel, every gun and anti-tank weapon captured enahnces the Lebanese Army’s strength against Hizbullah but alos makes it far more difficult for Hibullah to try attacking again.

  • It is “Scholars for Peace in the Middle East – Promoting Honest Debate” and it debunks a lot of the baloney that is all over the place. People who ONLY read the NY Times (and I subscribe to it) just don’t know much about the Middle East. They only know one side. Such a lot of wind.

    It’s a Bad Moon on the Right, only it’s on the left.

    What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been.

  • JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel will lift its sea and air blockade of Lebanon on Thursday evening, the Israeli government announced Wednesday.

  • Finnish, this is a horrible mistake that Israel is making. The kidnapped soldiers will likely soon be removed from Lebanon. This was the only leverage Israel had.

  • Haaretz on 9/3 Reporting on Lebanese farmers being outsourced as rocket launchers for Hez. One more reason to suspect that their villages Were the source of the trouble, and that the IAF was trying to do the best they could given the circumstances. Our own AF could not have done better at it. But it’s an interesting article. The campaign came at a lucky time. Given much more time, who knows what Hez would have been able to pull off? Geez… Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • From the article:

    The rockets, stored near the launch points in underground shelters or houses, were usually aimed with a direction and trajectory precalculated to hit a specific target in Israel. They were usually set up in orchards by arrangement with the grove owners, who were paid by Hezbollah.

    The two-by-three-meter positions consisted of a hydraulic launch pad in a lined pit. The pad could be raised to fire the 122-mm rockets from a launcher at its center, and then lowered and camouflaged with vegetation. The farmers received instructions by cell phone regarding the number of rockets to launch and in what direction and range. They were often provided with thermal blankets to cover the position in order to keep IAF aircraft from detecting the post-shooting heat signature.

    Presumably some of the Lebanese civilian casualties include these farmers. This doesn’t seem to be civilian activity.

  • Indeed. And I was wondering why it seemed as if they had gotten way more accurate with the launchings than usual. They had dedicated, carefully sited launch sites that were perfectly concealable, almost to the standards of those dastardly villains in all those 007 movies. Well at least the US will crack down on those serious currency violations that seem to be accompanied by the handing out of 100’s of dollars of US currency by Hez/Iran!

    But yeah. With bigger payloads & more long range rockets, this could have looked quite a bit different in a few years. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • Themiddle, I agree what Mr. Morrissey said, I’m of the same opinion that this was likely a part of the package to secure the release of the soldiers.

    The “hundreds of positions” (meaning at least 200) caught my eye. The total number of rockets launched during the whole war is estimated to be at least around 4000, this would mean a total of roughly 20 of those 122mm rockets fired per position. All positions were likely not used, so the number of rockets fired per active position is higher. Also, some positions were likely to be re-used, making the number of rockets fired per position even more higher.

    Now, one BM21-type launcher takes in 40 rockets. If you’re going to launch rockets you’d likely fire with full launcher capability to maximize the utility. If you fire 1 rocket and the position is destroyed, it’s not beneficial to you, as you only fired 1 rocket and no longer have a firing position.

    If about 4000 rockets were launched in total, with each launcher taking in at least 40 rockets (or some reasonable multiple of it), this would translate to around one hundred active positions (assuming no positions were reused, in which case it would be much less than one hundred).

    So, is the “hundreds of positions” an exaggeration? Or was there really so many inactive positions, meaning Hizbullah was working at less than 50% of their maximal capability…?

    (I’m assuming the launcher was a BM21-type launcher with 9M22U-like rockets, as they matched the descriptions closest)

  • Well, it’s assumed that Hizbullah had at least 12,000 and as many as 15,000 of these rockets. I don’t believe their launchers were ever completely full to capacity and in videos released by the IDF you see strings of 4 or 5 from a single location. Their manner of landing and the damage caused also suggests firing in small batches as would the simple logic that they know the IAF is watching from the sky and therefore there is a very limited window of opportunity to fire. In this regard, “hundreds” of positions would make sense. It would also make sense for tactical reasons.

  • That makes some sense, but scouting on the ground should be able to tell the rest of the story, if they’re able to do it adequately. In any case thae other thought I had was that these were exactly the sort of conditions that cluster bombs were invented to try and counter. Hidden forces or targets under cover. Denial of area attacks etc… Using the right tools for the job? That’s a flag & a 20 yd. penalty from the UN! We need full after action reports to be able to judge here too. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • Sorry Tom and Finnish, I was unfortunately right in my cynicism and concern:

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Friday it was premature to talk of negotiations for the release of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers abducted by Hezbollah in July, but said Germany would be prepared to help in mediation if asked.

    Speaking at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Tel Aviv, Steinmeier said he had raised the issue of abducted soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev with Lebanese officials.

    The abduction of the soldiers in a cross-border raid sparked 34 days of bitter fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Three other soldiers were killed in the attack, and five more died in an initial rescue operation.

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    “In my talks with the government in Lebanon I discussed this issue of the abductees,” he said, speaking in German translated into Hebrew. “I don’t know if the time is ripe, here in Israel and in Lebanon to start the process, but if we are asked to help we would be interested in doing so.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/760507.html

  • Well, the Germans have been intermediaries before. Perhaps something more substantive is going on behind the scenes . . . . But this whole business of the soldiers’ release and any ‘prisoner’ exchange has really become internationalized, hasn’t it, with the UN’s involvement in ending the war. Israel may be stuck with that int’l. process– so vigorous and effective in tackling such issues as North Korean and Iranian nukes.

  • I think it’s worse than that. The international community simply doesn’t give a hoot since Israel is leaving anyway. Olmert met with the Russian FM yesterday and proclaimed that Israel would not comply with 1701 unless the soldiers were released. Guess what? There’s no blockade, the IDF is vacating to make way for UNIFIL and there’s no leverage left whether Israel says it’s in compliance or not. As far as what Lebanon and Hizbullah need, which is not to worry about Israel, the elements of 1701 that benefit them will have been fulfilled by the Zionist state.

    The families of the kidnapped soldiers are justifiably angry and resentful.

  • Oh, I think there are already channels open behind the scenes to deal with the problem of the captured soldiers.

    The fact is that Israel has hundreds of people which Hizbullah wants. And Hizbullah has the captured soldiers (and possibly even some information about Mr. Arad) which is what Israel wants. So there’s clearly supply in both sides and demand in both sides, all that is left is to negotiate the details of the trade.

    I’m optimistic. (Hopefully not too much so as to having become a besserwisser)

    Oh and for VJ, if I understood correctly what you were saying, I’d like to say this (even if I start to sound like a broken record): there’s nothing so much wrong about cluster bombs against military targets in remote or clearly military areas in general. But dropping them to civilian areas also effectively mines the civilian areas (a certain percentage like around 10%, depending on type and model, of the small bomblets inside the cluster bomb do not explode). Now, mining civilian areas is fine if you’re a total cunt and want to cause maximal terror (example: Russians planting bombs into children’s toys in Afghanistan), but if you don’t want that, then you just don’t drop cluster bombs into civilian-populated areas. If you do, you might get “red-flagged”.

    If someone hides among the civilian population, then the situation is troublesome indeed. How to take out a valid target without causing collateral damage? That’s difficult. If one side is fighting with 4th generation warfare tactics and the other side is stuck mostly with 3rd generation warfare then there’s a problem, the 4th generation side has a clear advantage.

    But anyway, I’m hoping the captured soldiers get back home soon. By the way, is there some tradition in Israel what people do after a long journey? In Finland they’ll likely jump into a sauna, but I’ve no idea what people in Israel do in such a situation.

  • Finnish, It’s about 20-30% of UXO’s on a bad day. And yes, if you’re shooting missiles from your orchard, we will not shed any tears over bombing it. This has nothing to do with ‘cunts’, it has to do with trying to prevent missiles being shot indiscriminately into your cities. Also a war crime. So let’s call it even, right? Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • Finnish is probably right about how the soldiers’ release will play out. It’ll be quite an irony if it ends in ‘exchange’ (especially if that loathsome murderer is involved). I suspect that Hezbollah seeks a way to seem like a winner in this late, post-combat round of the conflict.

    As for cluster bombs: hmm, a potentially toxic debate to wade into . . . Except to point out that how Israel wages war, and how its tactics are perceived (and spun by Israel, for that matter), should be taken into account by policymakers, irrespective of whether this or that tactic can be justified on purely moral grounds. This involves the issue of public relations, and Israel’s poor performance at it. When everything you do is televised and analyzed to death, you better be prepared to help shape outsider perceptions. Just ask the Bush administration.

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